To say that the web and social media are the next frontier in recruiting prospective students may sound a bit misleading. Colleges, including Skidmore, have been using the web to communicate with prospective students and their families since the first “.edu” domain was established. However, some colleges have been slow to adapt to this new way of communicating.
Happily, Skidmore isn’t one of them. We’ve positioned ourselves as part of the social media vanguard in higher education, particularly with respect to online recruitment. In addition to having one of the best admissions staffs in the world, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into making sure we’re communicating with students on “their level.” Prospective students are inundated with e-mails from colleges and universities, a small percentage (about 20%) are actually reading what we are sending. And with the cost of print increasing, we’ve been looking for some cost-effective ways to connect with prospective students.
What better resource to use then, then our student body? The 2011 Noel-Levitz e-Expectations report emphasizes the use of current students as one of the most effective ways to connect to prospective students. Taking that to heart, Communications and Admissions have teamed up to launch Student-to-Student, a multi-media initiative that aims to put prospective students in direct contact with current students in a cost-effective way. (You may have received this e-mail in your inbox today.) A special thank you to the marketing genius mind of Mallory Wood for acting as a mentor for this program. If you don’t know Mallory Wood, you should check out her blog.
Students (and three staff members) participating in Student-to-Student blog at least weekly (free), use Twitter at least daily (also free), maintain a presence on Facebook (guess what, it’s free, too!), and answer questions on Formspring (surprise, it’s totally free). Since launching the page on Monday, October 5, it has been viewed 433 times, and visitors have spent an average of 3.43 minutes (!) on the page.
These tools are not only cost-effective; they’re everywhere. It’s important to leverage them (and social media) in new ways to connect and communicate with these prospective students, but also to create and cultivate relationships beyond Skidmore’s walls. It’s about keeping the lines of communication open and constantly flowing between our future students and us—which is never a bad thing.