National Decision Day has come and gone, but anyone in higher education knows that not every high school student has officially chosen where they'll spend their next four years—and in turn, not every admissions office has sealed off incoming applications. In fact, more than 220 institutions are still looking to fill out their fall semester. Is yours?
If your institution still has openings, financial aid, and housing available for qualified freshmen and/or transfers, it's not too late to meet your enrollment goals. Here are a just few things you may want to consider doing, ASAP:
1. Get on this list. Last week, NACAC posted its annual College Openings Update. This year's list—designed for counselors, parents and teachers— includes more than 220 private and public schools that still have openings as of May 1. NACAC CEO Joyce E. Smith said in a press release: “We hope students who need to rethink their admission options will benefit from knowing that these opportunities are available.” And in the list's description, NACAC says: "In cases where well-qualified students may not have applied to a range of institutions, or may have been turned down by all schools to which they applied, the Update provides an opportunity to be identified and possibly accepted by competitive institutions, and to obtain financial aid and housing."
In other words, this is one way your college could potentially attract a few more applications from qualified prospects who are having a last-minute change of heart. Or, from prospective transfer students interested in finding out where they could still go come fall 2015. To get your college on the list, follow these instructions.
2. Recruit more freshmen..carefully. Check your mailing lists; is there anyone who was in contact with your school at one point, but never inquired further or only partially completed an application? Find out if they've committed elsewhere. While it's okay to continue recruiting throughout the summer, you have to do so ethically. NACAC's Statement of Principles of Good Practice states that institutions should "not knowingly recruit students who are enrolled, registered, have initiated deferred admission, or have declared their intent, or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions unless the students initiate inquiries themselves or unless cooperation is sought from institutions that provide transfer programs." If you know that a student hasn't committed elsewhere, however, let them know about your openings.
3. Contact guidance counselors. Another list you should tap into now: high school guidance counselors you have relationships with. They may still be advising students who haven't made a deposit elsewhere, and knowing that your school still has financial aid available can be a huge selling point to at least get their students interested in learning more about your institution.
4. Make use of your owned channels. Have an admissions blog or active Twitter account? Post a message about the status of your applications. And, publish more content that conveys the value of your school's education. What does your institution have to offer at this point in the game to qualfied students? Where have graduates gone, that incoming freshmen might want to know about? And what are you looking for in applicants?
5. Rethink your marketing strategy for the next round. Get a team together and assess where you fell short of your enrollment goals and why. To make sure you aren't in this position next year, it could be time to revamp your enrollment marketing with new messaging, new designs, new points of contact, and perhaps a new partner to help you produce a communications sequencing map that yields the results you want. And if you'd like...