Every institution that has any concern about enrollment should be rethinking how they are marketing their career services. Career pathways and outcomes aren’t just important to current students, they’re one of the biggest factors in the enrollment decision. In fact, a recent student success survey conducted by Strada Education and Gallup found that 86% of students cited career advancement as the primary factor in their decision to enroll in college.
Enrollments are everything. With government funding declining and stark changes to the perceived value of a degree, the overall pool of students is shrinking, creating increased competition for new students. There is no shortage of reminders of this happening.
- U.S. Colleges are Facing a Demographic and Existential Crisis - Huffington Post, July 2017
Why is Undergraduate College Enrollment Declining? - NPR, May 2018
Colleges set to fight for fewer students - US News & World Report - Sept. 2018
With a direct correlation between enrollments and budgets, institutions are rightfully concerned, and the pressure is on for schools to differentiate their programs and highlight the ‘return on education’ to effectively recruit today’s students.
With budgets tightening, what actions can be taken to improve the return on marketing spend and strengthen recruitment efforts?
A fast and effective way to attract more students and improve conversion is to embed the career resources and support services your programs offer into your marketing.
Check out all the great work Chalvonna and her team do on their uConnect platform here: https://careers.seas.gwu.edu/
At uConnect, we have adopted a mantra of Career Everywhere or #careereverywhere for those who are active on social media!
Historically, career services has been viewed as just another student service. A ‘nice-to-have’ offering for students. While some students took advantage of career services to connect with alumni, get their resumes reviewed, participate in mock interviews or meet employers, most students overlooked these resources completely.
With such strong data linking engagement in career exploration and planning to enrollment and persistence, schools are paying more attention to career services. Many schools are investing in tools and technologies to help students with career exploration, mobilizing faculty to provide career support and even providing transparency into outcomes by making employment outcome data publicly accessible.
By embedding career resources, data and information, like employer partners, career outcome data and alumni success stories, into institutional marketing efforts, schools can help students enroll with a vision of an outcome, and to more purposefully persist to completion.
Since we launched uConnect’s career services marketing platform in 2014, we’ve helped many schools more effectively promote career pathways and outcomes with a focus on the largest and most immediate opportunity - the website. In 2016, EduVentures found that, by far, the #1 place prospective students learned about academic degrees and programs was the institutions website. Unfortunately, institutional websites for both traditional undergraduate, graduate and even continuing education programs have very little in the way of career data and information. Program pages, which provide students details about specific academic programs and degree pathways often focus on course descriptions and credit requirements. While this information is important for most every student deciding to further their education, it is not what draws them in. It’s the outcomes of students before them who have been on the same pathway. What gets their attention is showing a return on their investment of time and money. When schools fail to include their career resources and services in their marketing and website experience, they’re not only failing to motivate students but they’re missing a massive opportunity to differentiate their program from competitors.
As mentioned, the good news is that schools are putting more of an emphasis on career services. While sometimes hiding in closed off portals and apps, new technologies on campuses everywhere are attracting new employer partners, creating more career opportunities and more success stories.
As a marketer, if you can uncover these resources, relationships and stories, it can be like finding buried treasure. By adopting a strategy where career is embedded into the public-facing website, you can put the provide critical decision-making data to both active and passive prospects - increasing inquiries, applications and yields.
If you’re concerned your specific programs don’t have as robust career resources and services, look beyond your department, across campus to see what’s offered more broadly by the institution. Tying career with the top-level brand narrative can impact recruiting and enrollment at every level.
If growing enrollment is a priority at your institution, and you’d like to see how schools are leveraging career resources and information they already have to recruit more students, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org