Higher education needs to rethink how it approaches the student lifecycle. The resounding message from the 2016 Eduventures Summit was that as technology emerges and a new generation of students arrives on campus, schools must be able to offer a personal touch and affirmation that the school will meet their goals. These conclusions are based on Google search trends, generational preferences and advances in social media data analytics.

Collegis Education sponsored and attended the event, in addition to presenting on how institutions can better use technology to meet the needs and expectations of digital natives. Mingling with higher education professionals and discussing how the latest research uncovers opportunities to better serve current and prospective students was a highlight for our Collegis staff. Here are key things we learned from speakers and attendees.

It’s About the Fit

Today’s students are looking for an institution that meets their expectations and provides the experiences they are seeking. It’s about how well your institution fits with their life goals. With that in mind, understanding the mindset of each student will be essential in the coming enrollment cycle.

Eduventures shared findings on six distinct student mindsets that can help colleges and universities move toward personalized recruitment tactics. Interestingly, half of these mindsets have career preparation as decision criteria for their college choice.

The other three cite decision criteria that are social and academic in nature.

Eduventures’ Six Student Mindsets

Career Preparation Mindset

Social/Academic Mindset

Experiential InterestsSocial Focus
Career through AcademicsGrad School Bound
Career PragmatistsExploration and Meaning

 

But just knowing the mindsets isn’t enough. “This is only a starting point,” says Kim Reid, Eduventures research analyst. “What really matters is the way you interact with those students.”

Your student experience must address student needs — from the admissions process through graduation.

 

Generational Trends Impact Your Student Experience

Generational trends are playing a significant role in how colleges and universities attract and retain students today. But, many colleges and universities are still nestled in the values and influences of past generations. If colleges and universities are to be successful, they must find common ground with the new generation.

Campuses are flooded with Gen Y and Gen Z students that comprise traditional and nontraditional populations. But, when you dig into the generational values of these segments, you see they are not that different — they are searching for meaningful, relevant experiences. They are less interested in conforming than generations past, and they tend to be more frugal. They are more accepting of differences among their peers, and many want a chance to “build their own” education.

“Meaning is so important,” said Tammy Erickson, the keynote speaker of the conference and award-winning author of “Your Next Recruiting Class: What Are They Really Thinking.”

Social Engagement Tools in CRM Strategies Are on the Rise

Social media has permeated our world, and many institutions are on the hunt to find ways to engage and understand their students via this medium. Integrating social media into your CRM allows your recruitment and advancement teams to work smarter, and create more relevant, meaningful conversations.

“Data integration isn’t an end in itself. It’s about knowing more about the people you are connecting with,” said Roz Lemieux, general manager of Attentive.ly at Blackbaud.

Almost everyone is reading what colleges are posting on social media during their college search. But the key is to find a way for them to engage with those social media posts.

As higher ed professionals seek to use social media, it’s critical to remember what this information provides — not just a new connection point, but a way to understand who your targets are. Social media allows institutions to recognize passion points, demographics, location, etc. I’s a key tool for creating a profile of who your prospective and current students are.

Peer conversations and experiences on social media are still the most impactful types of engagement. Colleges and universities that leverage their existing student social content can grow their brand awareness and affinity with prospective students.