Magazine article CRM Magazine

Learning the Recruitment Ropes: Business Tactics Are Helping Higher Education Institutions Tackle Imminent Challenges in Recruitment and Retention

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Learning the Recruitment Ropes: Business Tactics Are Helping Higher Education Institutions Tackle Imminent Challenges in Recruitment and Retention

Article excerpt

Higher education institutions are finding that there's more to recruitment than perfect SAT scores or glowing recommendations. Rapidly developing trends are forcing schools to make recruitment strategies more efficient, more effective, and more service-oriented. In other words, schools are starting to look a lot more like businesses.

Schools are abandoning wide-net recruitment because it's both costly and ineffective. "Sending a postcard in the mail isn't going to cut it anymore and it's expensive," says Nicole Engelbert, a senior analyst at Datamonitor. Rather than trying to attract just any student, schools are narrowing the prospect pool and devoting their limited resources to targeting the right students. That's where CRM comes in--except in this case the "C" stands for constituent.

"They're adding not only contact management and email management, but also the capability to handle this info as a business process," says Catherine Burdt, a senior analyst at Eduventures. To survive, schools are taking the core values of CRM--sales, service, and marketing--and replacing "sales" with "recruiting." CRM allows institutions to "segment data, understand patterns of giving, and help allocate [their] resources, manpower, and measure effectiveness," Burdt says.

The U.S. education market is facing "competition from all different angles that simply didn't exist 10 to 15 years ago," says Anirban Chakrabarti, vice president of marketing at Intelliworks, a six-year-old provider of marketing software for higher education. The shrinking pool of potential college freshmen is a primary concern: Not only is the number of U.S. high school graduates anticipated to decline by 2010, but the international student pool in the U.S. is diminishing as well. Schools abroad are improving curricula and building their reputations. Chakrabarti says this is especially apparent in the BRICK nations--Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Korea. "These countries have burgeoning emerging economies that need a lot of training and retooling so [they are] investing a lot on their education at all levels."

Another challenge is limited monetary resources. "We've maxed out on what is possible to charge for higher education," Engelbert says. Luckily, technology allows for less costly modes of recruitment. The Facebook generation relies on the Web for information and instant gratification. Engelbert reported in a case study on one school that students "prefer to obtain information about a potential institution through the Internet," and that nearly 24 percent of the freshman class came through the Web site. In contrast," meetings with admissions representatives, during the expensive travel season, brought only 7. …

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