Every time I hit a milestone, I like to take a moment and appreciate it. Sometimes I can see the milestone coming and have a chance to mentally prepare, like that big birthday I had this year. Other times, the milestone happens without my even knowing it, and I can only celebrate upon reflection.

I knew that when I began working in higher education my path was taking a new and interesting turn. To celebrate that milestone, my hub and I took an unforgettable trip to Lake Nebo, NY. Upon return I got to work as Director of Communications at Maryville College. What I didn’t anticipate was that over a decade later I would still be working in higher ed, and I never imagined that it would be the dynamic, rapidly changing environment that it has become.

H·A ThirtyOne is on the cusp of launching and executing its 250th cross-media campaign designed specifically for increasing college admissions. That’s a proud milestone.

These campaigns have encouraged applications, dispelled myths about affordability, driven more campus visits, accelerated deposits, and educated families on basic information about specific institutions. But more than half of these campaigns have been in the area of Student Search.

When you do repeatable work in a specific area you can either get dull and lazy, doing the same old same old, or you can make every activity an opportunity to try something new and learn something more. We at H·A ThirtyOne are in the latter camp. And by taking this approach we’ve learned some very cool things about Student Search.

Another characteristic that we work to foster in our company is that of collaborative learning and activity. We don’t want to just sit on our discoveries…our latest findings about Student Search are worth sharing, and we want to get enrollment leaders together to discuss our latest Big Idea and plan some effective methods for execution.

So what’s the Big Idea?

First, a few elemental findings…
1 – Student Search is as important as ever. Nothing impacts a family at the beginning of the enrollment communications cycle more than Search. Although some schools need to do a recruitment search more than others, in some cases, it can influence more than half of an incoming freshman class.

2 – Mail and email in Student Search have to work together to get the biggest ROI. As we predicted, QR Codes have begun to impact this landscape, too. One of our schools can trace 30% of their total inquiry pool back to the scan of a QR Code. Thing are always changing. These are fast times.

3 – Students don’t care about you, unless you care about them. In fact, we have seen as much as a 60-percent difference in a response rate test between campaigns that are passive — meaning they only tell the student how great the school is — when compared to an active approach, where students are asked to share something about themselves.

Taking all those things into consideration, we stumbled upon our next Big Idea.

We have the technology and tools to learn about prospective students in ways that can help them discover how they learn and in what ways they are likely to be more successful at specific institutions. What parent (or student, for that matter) wouldn’t appreciate some help in actually decoding the question of fit and gaining assurance and vision of a path for success?

We’re able to integrate these ideas into Student Search, meaning that these new approaches will have the strength and intelligence to transform the learning ecosystems of some campuses. Imagine a day where your Student Search efforts are integrated with academics, student affairs, and campus life. This is the start of something big.

How can you and your institution be a part of these new ideas and help shape this next milestone in enrollment management? H·A ThirtyOne is conducting two Student Search Summits, one hosted at Queens University of Charlotte, in Charlotte, NC, and the other at Randoph-Macon College, in Ashland, VA.

This is a milestone I can see coming. Small, focused, and highly collaborative, these round table summits will be a milestone in the future of student recruitment. If you’d like to be a part of shaping the future and changing both the experience and outcomes of college recruitment, please let us know quickly. We believe it’s important that we keep the groups small enough for deep and meaningful discussion.

Student Search Summit – Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Queens University of Charlotte
Charlotte, NC

Student Search Summit – Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Randolph-Macon College
Ashland, VA


Karyn Adams is vice president and creative director for H·A ThirtyOne, working closely with the enrollment leadership and strategic communicators on campus. Have some ideas you’d like to test? Contact Karyn at karyn.adams@hathirtyone.com | 865.207.6944