For the better part of 20 years, I’ve heard that my home state of New Jersey is one of the biggest exporters of college-bound students in the country, with about half of those choosing four-year schools going out of state. And that’s great, but I also know that this kind of mass student exodus—and the never-ending quest to reach those students fleeing their home states—drives admission offices crazy!
I’m sure at some point in your career you’ve been tasked with the goal of increasing your out-of-state enrollments. Like me, you’ve probably stood behind a table at a college fair in a town you weren’t even sure existed on a map. You felt like the lonely kid at a party that no one wanted to speak to, envious of the other admission counselors talking with students, handing out their glossy materials. And then the moment finally comes when a student stops at your table. You look up from your cell phone, ready to go with all of your statistics about out-of-state students, the great clubs and organizations . . . but the student has only stopped to ask if you know if some other school is in the room. Okay. Back to checking Facebook and Twitter.
So how can you attract out-of-state students to your campus? Building your out-of-state recruiting presence is not going to happen overnight, and I may not have all of the solutions, but I can give you a few ideas that may help point you in the right direction.
It starts with knowing your website analytics (we actually have a free webinar on this topic). There may be geographic pockets of out-of-state students looking at your institution online, and you didn’t even know they were out there. Once you find these pockets, start reaching out to the students with targeted messaging. (Private Colleges & Universities, our platform of integrated print, e-mail, online, mobile, and search engine optimization, can help you dip your toe in the water of out-of-state recruitment.)
You may want to consider sending your out-of-state prospects direct mail using personalized postcards that use information you already know about them, like their intended major or activities of interest. Integrated campaigns like this can be an inexpensive way of reaching prospective students, saving you the cost of sending an admission counselor to an unknown territory. We can also help you with digital display advertising and Retargeting. You just have to remember that digital content is aimed at building long-term relationships; this applies not only to your bread-and-butter prospects but also to the ones you are trying to attract that don’t know much about you yet.
Or how about doing some targeted digital display marketing out-of-state just before your travel season. You could focus on particular zip codes or areas where you want to increase your exposure and build your brand. We can certainly help you get started. We have several digital outreach programs that can be tailored to your specific geo-targeted needs.
If your current out-of-state recruitment efforts aren’t showing results, why not try something new! Your admission counselors just might be busy at that next out-of-state college fair, instead of checking their Facebook or Twitter!