Since our recent return from a highly energizing 2016 NACAC conference in Columbus, the Whiteboard team has been hard at work supporting our clients with their enrollment strategies while having numerous meetings with other institutions about their goals and plans for the coming year.
A common theme has emerged in all of these conversations — high touch outpaces even high-tech. This notion was also reaffirmed in our new national study of more than 210,000 parents of high school seniors on behalf of the National Catholic College Admission Association.
In recent years, there has been a heavy focus on the technology of student recruitment, almost to the point where the outreach efforts seemed to exist to support the technological engagement. There has been some angst around creating a presence in endless social media platforms, website analytics, and tracking and a rush to explore flashy gimmicks regardless of evidence of its effectiveness. Think QR codes.
Today, we’ve seen a shift — a very positive one, in our view. To be clear, this is not a shift away from technology. It’s actually far from it. The shift is toward a keener focus on technology supporting a personal, authentic, and responsive student and family outreach and communication flow rather than the other way around.
Lately, a great number of our clients have expressed excitement about new capabilities around their CRM systems that enable smart recruitment travel, checking open house registrations from their phones, quick follow-up to student inquiries, and the like. No longer are we hearing much about aspects of the systems that don’t directly connect to the student experience. This is a hugely positive development for all enrollment professionals.
We also hear a newfound enthusiasm about the importance of rich messaging, encouraging two-way conversations between students and institutions, and the degree to which some of our own technological capabilities generate one-to-one recruitment opportunities between students or parents and admissions counselors. An impressive ability to develop these strategies is one aspect of what separates Whiteboard from other enrollment management firms.
Less often do we hear clients ask about the latest shiny objects of the day. Many of those gimmicks aren’t effective with the current generation of students and parents. One institution recently told us, “When we pride ourselves on communicating personally, it’s absolutely counterintuitive to lean on these detached ‘solutions.’”
Likewise, what we hear from our clients over and over again, and so often in Columbus, is how important it is that Whiteboard, as their partner, is proactive, attentive, ultra-responsive, and always flexible. It mirrors the experience they hope to create for their prospective students — where every interaction is a positive experience, one that furthers the interest and deepens the relationship.
That’s Whiteboard’s DNA. And it’s the approach we take to help our clients deliver most effectively on that promise with prospective students and families.
Whether it’s through our unique approach to student search, parent search campaigns, financial aid strategies, digital marketing, ESP Student Polls, or our national research studies, we’re offering a very different type of relationship.
That’s not to suggest that technology isn’t just as important to underpin these strategies as before, but technology in itself cannot be the communication strategy.
In 2016, we are very encouraged by the degree to which we see deeply authentic communication and personal attention in focus. You are out front where you belong — and the technology is behind the scenes in the supporting role.
Thanks for coming to see the Whiteboard Higher Education team at the NACAC National Conference in Columbus. We were humbled by the number of our clients who urged others to visit us to hear about a very different type of enrollment partnership.