January 29, 2019 by Remie Verougstraete
Each spring, colleges and universities across the country ramp up their yield campaigns to ensure admitted students (and their parents) stay engaged and motivated to enroll. If you work in enrollment management, it’s a busy season of finding and curating the most relevant and persuasive content to use in these campaigns.
With so many talking points to share and so little time and space to share them, do employment outcomes deserve a place in the marketing plan? Or is that information just for the career services office, when you’re helping students decide what to do when they leave campus, not whether or not they’ll come in the first place?
To help answer that question, here’s a look at five reasons to make outcomes data a point of emphasis in your upcoming campaigns:
This one is pretty straightforward. It’s well known that improved job prospects are one of the main reasons students decide to go to college at all and one of the key criteria they use to select an institution. If career outcomes are a motivating factor for students, then they should be a central part of college marketing efforts. Plus, by proactively sharing this in-demand information, you demonstrate that you understand and are aligned with students’ priorities and concerns. They know that you know what they’re looking for out of their college investment, and they can be confident that your institution will deliver.
Student testimonials are powerful because they are personal. Prospective students are able to connect with and trust those stories because they come from peers who are only a few miles ahead on the road of life. At the same time, these stories are, by their nature, anecdotal. Wary students and skeptical parents might be prone to assume that your student ambassadors are the exception rather than the rule, and that the student featured on the poster is, well…the poster child, rather than the average student. By supplementing those stories with objective data about the employment outcomes associated with your programs, you can give prospects the confidence they need to know they’re making an informed decision.
As The Seattle Times recently noted, STEM continues to dominate among incoming undergrads. Our own research confirms this trend, but also demonstrates that employers continue to place a premium on “human skills” like leadership, communication, and research—skills that are emphasized and honed in many liberal arts programs. Providing data to show the kinds of jobs and industries where your liberal arts grads find employment can help incoming students choose the best major for them based on their strengths, interests, and career goals.
Graphics from GoRecruit
The rising cost of higher education is a hot-button issue today. Everyone knows it’s a problem, but solutions are hard to come by. However, by sharing actual employment outcomes of your past graduates (including estimated salary), you can demonstrate your value to incoming students and families, reassuring them of the ROI offered by your institution’s programs. It may not make college cheaper today, but it can provide concrete evidence of the long-term benefits (e.g. increased job opportunities, higher wages, etc.) that they can expect to enjoy for a lifetime.
Though most administrators would agree that having outcomes data is important, most would also agree that it’s hard to obtain. Even institutions that provide some form of alumni employment statistics are often limited by small sample sizes based on low response rates to surveys. It’s a rare school indeed who can deliver reliable, comprehensive data on the current employment of their students, by cohort and by major. Schools that are able to offer this kind of data will set the new standard for what students can expect from institutions they’re interested in. Being able to provide this information to an inquiring student (or parent) could deliver the confidence boost they need to commit.
This is not an exhaustive list, but we hope it provides some idea of why outcomes data can and should play a strategic role in your enrollment marketing plan. Later this week, we’ll follow up with a practical look at how to deploy this data effectively as part of a multi-channel approach.
Looking for a better way to demonstrate alumni success, engage prospective students, and drive enrollment? Check out GoRecruit. Have questions about the data? Contact GoRecruit product manager Ashley Safranski. We’d love to hear from you!