Recruiting Gen Z students requires more than previous generations. The evidence suggests that Gen Z values lived experiences and authenticity more than an institution’s reputation or accolades. This means that what students want to hear is not a pitch on why your school is the best, but a more personalized, human approach.
As a student recruiter, your recruitment strategy involves determining how to disseminate pertinent information at the right time. But an important factor in your outreach should also be considering who is providing this information. The truth is that an institution is a community. Prospective students are evaluating your school to see if it’s the right fit for them. In order for them to get a good sense of this, they need to hear from more than just the recruiting department. Not to mention, these members of your existing community only benefit from building relationships with incoming students. As we have more and more conversations with higher education professionals, we realize that there are many stakeholders that benefit from recruiting a positive-minded cohort of new prospective students. It’s not just about the financial impact to your institution, it’s about admitting new members to the community.
With this being noted, it’s important to consider methods by which you can include said stakeholders into your recruitment process. Here are some considerations.
Besides the recruitment team, some members of the school community who benefit from yield target being hit are:
1. Professors and Faculty
Especially at schools with large student bodies, it’s not often that a professor gets a chance to form relationships with students. A professor’s priorities are likely to have students that embody the same passion they have for their program (as noted by Nicole St. Pierre in our Georgian College Case Study), as well as have enrolled students who may be interested in participating in their research.
2. The existing student body
Students carry the lifeblood of an institution. They are the determining factor in how a school culture develops and is upheld. It makes abundant sense, then, that the incoming cohort of students will be influenced by the years above them, and those current students can only benefit their school community by inviting open-minded newcomers with open arms.
3. School Dean/President
It goes without saying that the figurehead of a school benefits the most from the success of their student body. It is of the utmost importance to them that students are entering a safe learning environment where they feel supported and heard.
Using video messaging, we have seen an incredible rise in the usage of various stakeholders as the point-of-contact for prospective students. Emailing and texting can be quite impersonal and students often don’t remember the name of the person who reaches out to them by this method. The Goodkind videos below showcase how each of the above three groups have been involved in video messages to prospective students.
1. Professors or Faculty
Professors from across the continent are now being asked to participate in the recruitment process as Goodkind recorders! This is their opportunity to speak about their program and personally invite new students to book time to speak with them. Professors at Northwest Missouri State have even seen a packed office hours schedule once they were featured in a video message.
Here is an example: https://video.jbu.edu/Fe20ZEuI?demo=true
The most common video recorder we are now seeing from partner schools are student ambassadors. Students are from the same generation as your prospective cohort, so they present lived experience in the most direct way. Not to mention that they get recognized on campus after recording videos and become beacons of safety for prospective students. This is a key role in giving prospective students a peer contact when they are weighing their school options.
Here is an example: https://springarbor.goodkind.tv/ZMpGKIYK?demo=true
3. School Dean & President
Having the school president address students directly is a pretty rare occurrence. I’d be surprised if someone could say that they interacted with their school’s dean in any capacity during their educational career. This is a member of your community that holds high status and, therefore, it means something quite significant if a student receives a video from them. This also allows the dean or president to pull down the barrier between students and the office they hold, integrating them better into the community and creating the reputation of informality amongst the incoming student body.
Here is an example: https://austinpeay.goodkind.tv/TkSOlSTm?preview=true
It is rare that recruitment teams have the opportunity to include various stakeholders in their recruitment process. Video messaging allows them to bring the school community’s charm directly to each and every student, removing the banal nature of drip emails and sending a warmer message to prospective students. Our school communities can only be richer when we participate in the success of students from the get go, instead of separating their journeys with us into distinct moments and categories. In order to have a highly successful recruitment strategy with Gen Z, it’s important to consider what will work best for them. Having faculty and students show their passion for your school is a great way to convey a safe learning environment where they feel like they’ll belong.