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It's time to ask why students chose your higher ed institution (or didn't)

We tend to get a little reflective of a Friday and today is no exception. The summer is coming to an end soon and lots of high school students will be packing their bags, waving goodbye to their childhood safe-havens and heading off to college. There’ll be excitement, anticipation, a little fear but hopefully for most the start of something that’ll shape them for the rest of their lives. It’s a time for new beginnings, new relationships and a freedom long sought.

But it’s also a time for marketing and recruitment teams in colleges and universities around the world to put their research hats on. This is a primetime to develop an understanding that’ll inform their actions and strategies for the next year. That is to say to fundamentally understand the motivations behind a choice; a choice to choose your institution or a choice to not choose your institution.

Very often people get stuck on the outcome and ignore the underlying motivations behind the decision itself. ‘We hit our student recruitment targets – great’. ‘This student turned down our offer – never mind we filled it anyway’. ‘We were her first choice – wonderful, send her details about registration’.

We get it. The marketing and recruitment efforts that go into driving student recruitment (domestic and internationally) are exhausting and sometimes you want to celebrate the fruits of your labor rather than analyse them. But we’d ask you a question – Is today, the ‘honeymoon period’ of their university choice, not the ideal time to understand the reasons behind that decision? When students are probably at their most agreeable in participating in surveys, focus groups or calls and isn’t it a waste not to capitalize on it?

We love a list at TERMINALFOUR.

We’ll get the ball rolling and list some questions you might include in a survey: 

  • Where did you first hear about our university/college? 
  • What information source gave you the most insight e.g. website, social media channels, radio ads? 
  • What social media platform did you use most to receive updates? 
  • Did you do research on any forums or blogs?
  • Did you research on your mobile device or desktop?
  • Did your parents, guidance counsellor or friends assist in your choice? 
  • What clinched it? What made you choose us?
  • What was your favorite aspect of dealing with us before you accepted? 
  • What was your least favorite? 
  • Where did we fail? 
  • Why did you choose another institution? 
  • What could we have done differently? 
  • What aspects of the campus visit did you enjoy the most? 
  • What aspect of the campus visit did you least enjoy?

If it isn’t obvious, this is just a brain dump of potential questions. But hopefully it’s also obvious the insights that may be gained from asking the questions. Maybe you’ll discover you’re misallocating budget to a social media platform that has no influence on decision making (maybe the opposite is true too i.e. under resourcing). Maybe you’ll discover that they couldn’t find the right information on your website so they abandoned the search.

Knowledge is power. The more you know about your successes and failures the more control you have over the performance of future marketing and recruitment efforts. Your new intake of students (or those that passed on the opportunity) hold the key to so many answers. Why don't you ask them? 


Tagged: Student Survey, Higher Education

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