Using Social Media to Influence Inquiries and Applications
TLDR: unless you’re among the lucky few universities out there, you’re going to need more applications.
There were many unique challenges as it relates to enrolling students for the 2020-2021 academic year. While most are still modifying by the day as COVID evolves, all are looking ahead to the incoming class of fall 2021. It’s important to note that this new class of students brings an entirely different mindset to applying to college.
First, prospects from the class of 2021 are optimistic about the prospect of heading back to school which is very different than their preceding class who entered college this fall. According to a studentPOLL survey from June 2020, 81% of students polled are at least somewhat confident they will be able to have in-person classes and participate fully in campus life in fall 2021. Long story short: most rising high school seniors are feeling good that by the time they get to their college campus, the pandemic will be significantly more under control than it is now. In their minds, the “typical” college experience is within reach for their freshman year.
In addition to an optimistic outlook, prospects are also open to new ways of consuming information. One of the hallmarks of the admissions process has been the college tour, where universities promoted all of their bells and whistles. Given the pandemic’s impact on travel and gatherings, in-person tours are not a part of the current yield phase for this incoming class. And prospects are ok with that. 90% say they would still apply even if they weren’t able to tour as a junior or early-stage senior. So the question becomes, what is your university doing to supplement this void during a key moment of the prospect’s journey?
Lastly, the next set of prospects need time. What for? Time to figure out how to bulk up their applications now that activities and sports have been cancelled. Time to adjust to changing SAT and ACT testing requirements. Time to balance the college search with their high school academics during a time of significant change with delivery models. Universities that can flex and meet this need for time will win. Yes, it can cause anxiety to drag out deadlines, but it will make a difference. Two thirds of students surveyed by studentPOLL said that they’d be more likely to apply to a school if the applications deadlines were pushed back.
So now, how do we get these prospects into the funnel, and encourage them to apply?
Check out our subsequent blog posts on the topic to get social-specific advice on generating inquiries and applications.