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Redefining Recruitment Practices

By Ginny McSwine August 28, 2013

by Karen Full, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Kettering University

The stagnating economy, a steady decrease in the high school-age population in many parts of the U.S., and a lessened ability and/or willingness on the part of parents to fund a private university education for their children has contributed to the enrollment difficulties facing many institutions all around the country. Those of you in charge of enrollment probably already feel an urgent need to revisit your student recruitment strategies.

Emphasizing and promoting your institution’s uniqueness to prospective students and parents is of utmost importance. You need to find ways to convey the right message to the right students, and at the right time.  These five areas of your enrollment operation  should be conducted uncommonly well:

  1. Tell your story to as many students as possible.  Create a series of well thought-out communication plans.  Customize your prospective student communications based on the interests and backgrounds of students in your pool. For example, at Kettering University, we look for an interest or attribute specific to one portion of our inquiry pool and tailor a special email message just for that group.
  2. Learn each student’s story.  As your recruiters get to know their students through high school visits, regional receptions and campus interviews, strive to record the students’ stories into notes and activity records.  Since recruitment is all about helping students find the right college “fit,” this makes it very easy to customize future messages to individual students.
  3. Effectively communicate next steps of the process to every student.  Recruiters should set specific expectations for each student.   Each time that you speak with a student, clearly outline what needs to be accomplished next, such as an application submission, the scheduling of a campus visit, or filing for financial aid.  Set the expectations, and then set a date to follow up.  Following this method consistently will go a long way toward increasing yield.
  4. Host outstanding and well-attended recruitment events.  Have you tracked your campus visitors in recent years to determine the percentage of those students who enroll?  Do you know why some students do not enroll after visiting your campus?  At our university, the campus visit is of utmost importance, therefore we attempt to create the best possible experience for the student and family.   We frequently survey students post-event about their experience.
  5. Provide excellent follow-up and customer service.  Utilize a task-setting and tracking mechanism to remove guesswork and enable the recruiters to more effectively stay on top of their student pool at all stages of the pipeline.

Your recruitment efforts need to become highly personalized and focused on one-to-one relationship building, not only with prospective students, but also with parents and other important customers such as high school guidance counselors and community college advisors.

Easier said than done, right? So how do you actually do this? By working with a CRM system like Salesforce, you can be empowered to much more easily perform relationship management tasks that are usually cumbersome and time-consuming if you’re forced to work from paper spreadsheets and static databases.

At Kettering University, we’ve created a  Salesforce –based recruitment practice that looks like this:


Our recruiters may now log into Salesforce, look up any student or groups of students and instantly glean useful information.  For example, they can view the number of times a student has been contacted by phone, letter or email.  They  can see how many times a student has responded to or interacted with our email messages.   They  can assess a student’s interest level based on a ranking system.  They can set tasks for future follow-up to each student.  Pertinent data and enrollment history from the student’s high school, the student’s campus visit history–  all of this information is now readily available at our fingertips.

This is the magic of Salesforce:

  • Easier for recruiters to effectively maintain communication with all of their students.
  • Large-scale communication plans and automated responses are easy to build and monitor.
  • Efficiency in tracking student activity.
  • Prospective students and families may easily register for recruitment events on-line.
  • Recruiters can view and edit student data in real-time, from any mobile device.

Most importantly, Kettering University has already begun to reap the benefits from our new processes. Our admit-to-enrolled yield rate has improved from 18% to over 30%, and new student enrollment  increased 11% from 2011 to 2012.   2013 so far looks to be another successful recruitment year.

You cannot repeat the same old processes again and again and expect different results.  Making this move to Salesforce within our enrollment department has been extremely worthwhile for Kettering University.

Hundreds of your peer higher education institutions are using Salesforce to allow them to listen across social networks about what is being said about their institution, learn their prospects’ language, and to engage in a more meaningful way. In fact, education customers cite a 64% improvement in understanding their constituents via social media and a 27% increase in conversion rates.

Watch the short video about how Salesforce can help do this while reducing overall costs and increasing recruiting efficiency.


Karen Full is the Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. She has over 20 years of experience in college admissions and enrollment services, including Marian University in Indianapolis, University of South Florida, The University of Tampa and The College Board.