Capture Blog

Beanball Admissions: How You Have Been Misled About Student Recruitment

One year ago today, Capture Higher Ed began a concerted, company-wide effort to up its game when it came to examining, discussing and sharing all of the issues, insights and trends surrounding modern enrollment management and higher education at large.

Through the company’s daily blog, everything from automated marketing in the admissions office to the use of data science and cutting-edge modeling for class prediction to the best and worst practices in all areas of student recruitment have been discussed, dissected and displayed. The blog, which many receive through a weekly digest, opens a window into what the data, marketing and enrollment experts at Capture are thinking about every day. 

Capture’s new and improved blog kicked off with a piece by Senior Vice President of Data Science Thom Golden, Ph.D. The post uses a sports metaphor to outline the decaying model of  student recruitment that has been sold to higher ed. We repost it here in celebration of the new blog’s one-year anniversary. Enjoy! 

October 5, 2016

Imagine your ideal prospective student. Picture him standing with a group of friends or sitting alone with ear buds in, doing whatever it is that post-millennials do.

As a student whose name was purchased in your latest PSAT buy, he is not facing you. Instead, he’s consumed with life as a teenager. Your job, as an enrollment manager, is to figure out how to communicate with that student in a way that results in him enrolling at your college or university.

The model of recruitment that has been sold to higher education would tell you to do the following:

  1. Grab a foam ball from a bucket that your consultant has placed at your feet. This ball represents your carefully crafted, initial marketing message. Throw it at the student in hopes that he will simply look your way and somehow, fall in love with your institution.
  2. When the prospective student doesn’t flinch, do not panic. Grab the second ball and throw it. This is to be expected; it usually takes a few.
  3. Throw another.
  4. Then another.
  5. And another.
  6. Hold up. You know what it is? The segment of students this prospect is in likes green-colored balls … and you’ve been throwing red ones. Time to switch strategies and go green. This generation likes everything green. Go ahead. Throw it.
  7. And again, and another.
  8. We’re running out of time here; grab the whole bucket and dump it over his head.
  9. Still nothing? We thought so. New research just published in a white paper seems to indicate that teenagers are distractible and mistrusting of foam balls being thrown at them and/or being dumped on their heads. Change formats and begin throwing baseballs.
  10.  If this doesn’t work, try bowling balls. If that doesn’t work …

Now imagine 10 of your fiercest competitors, all being consulted to do likewise. Imagine all of the balls lying at the feet of your most ideal, prospective student and consider the cost of each of them, in dollars, in human time invested, and in squandered good will between your institution and your prospective student.

You can do better.

There are more efficient, effective and progressive ways to market to students based upon real-time behavior — not post-time, student-reported data — using demographic, socioeconomic and behavioral data.

This is the future of the industry. It’s time to start throwing the correct-colored ball to the student who is looking at you and ready to catch it.

By Thom Golden, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Data Science, Capture Higher Ed

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