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How to Increase Student Enrollment in Higher Education for 2023

It’s a time of change in higher education. Since the beginning of the pandemic, undergraduate enrollment has dropped by 9.4% across the United States. With a smaller pool of students to draw from, many colleges and universities are struggling to engage with and attract students to their school. 

Record low acceptance rates at Ivy League universities indicate that top schools are seeing increased applicants, but clearly this trend isn’t shared across the board. For most schools, it has become increasingly important to expand recruitment efforts and do more to engage with prospective students. 

Understanding how to increase student enrollment starts by understanding prospective students and how they want to engage. With that in mind, in this article we’ll look at some of the ways colleges and universities can engage with students how, where and when they want. 

4 Proven Strategies to Increase Enrollment this Fall

4 Proven Strategies to Increase Enrollment this Fall

This guide explores 4 cost-effective strategies that any school can adopt to help them engage with more prospective students and increase enrollment this fall.

Read more
Slides

1. Break down the barriers to connect 

Today’s Gen Z students have followed in the digital-first footsteps of the Millennials that came before them. Thanks to the prevalence of digital communications, the ways that colleges and universities have traditionally communicated are now foreign to many students. First phone calls, and now email have fallen out of favour among Gen Z. Surveys have shown that as much as 70% of this generation experiences anxiety when answering the phone. To break down this barrier to engagement, schools must introduce instant digital communication, and the only channel that can provide this is live chat. 

Live chat is the preferred channel for 85% of Gen Z, allowing them to communicate instantly and digitally through a familiar text interface. Schools adopting live chat can expect to see improved engagement and satisfaction, as Cambrian College are achieving now. 

Cambrian College provides an excellent case study for the use of live chat in student recruitment. After introducing Comm100 Live Chat to their Recruitment department in 2020, Cambrian College’ students immediately took to live chat, scoring 4.5 out of 5 in customer satisfaction of live chats, compared to the industry average 4.2 out of 5. With live chat in place, Cambrian College have increased engagement with prospective students and are boosting their recruitment numbers. 

Alison Caruso, Manager of Student Recruitment at Cambrian College, speaks highly of the reception to live chat from prospective students: 

“Providing personal and genuine support to our students is really important to us. We want all of our students to feel that we care about them as individuals and Comm100 Live Chat lets us do just that. The people we speak to on live chat also really enjoy the more casual and colloquial nature of the support, which helps us to build relationships while still being informative and helpful.”

Alison Caruso, Manager of Student Recruitment at Cambrian College 

Keep reading: Cambrian College improves recruitment with Comm100 Live Chat & Chatbot 

2. Offer around the clock support 

As schools attempt to reach prospective students and consider ideas for how to increase student enrollment, they can’t just consider how students want to connect. They also need to consider when. As McKinsey & Company describes, Gen Zers “expect more than ever to consume products and services any time and any place”. Just as websites and social channels don’t have set hours, students expect to connect with schools at any time of day too. 

The cost-effective solution is through automation and chatbots. Chatbots are increasingly being introduced to enable schools to provide 24/7 support. Chatbots can easily handle your most common enrollment questions without agent intervention, providing cost-effective support any time of day. For a real-world example of chatbots in higher education, we can look to Thompson Rivers University (TRU). 

After first introducing Comm100 Live Chat, TRU decided to expand their support hours by integrating an AI chatbot. By importing their existing support FAQs to Comm100’s bot platform, TRU now automates the most common and simple questions so when their agents are offline, students can still receive the immediate and helpful support they demand. The TRU chatbot handles 83% of all incoming chats within the Future Students department. 

Besides providing after-hours support, introducing a chatbot to a team of agents can also improve key live chat KPIs. With more than 80% of common requests handled, wait times are reduced for students needing agent support. Most Gen Z students expect immediate response from an agent, meaning faster response will provide students with a much better experience. Agents can use the time saved answering common questions to handle other work, or offer students a more personalized experience, leading to our next strategy for how to increase student enrollment. 

Keep reading: Thompson Rivers University adopts Comm100 Live Chat & Chatbot across 5 departments 

3. Personalize! 

Because they’ve grown up in a time of highly personalized digital services, today’s prospective students want to feel that their needs are catered to by colleges and universities. Research shows just how important personalization is to all consumers in 2022: 

  • 88% agree that the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services 
  • 73% expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations 
  • 62% expect companies to anticipate their needs. 

Live chat empowers agents to deliver a personalized experience. When a student reaches out, their chat is accompanied with a wealth of information about them that the agent can use to offer more helpful and personal support. Taking this a step further, by connecting the CRM system (such as Salesforce), live chat agents can access even more information such as their degree, events they’ve attend, marketing emails they’ve responded to, and so much more. 

Routing rules can improve personalization too by automatically directing inquiries to departments or specific agents best suited to answer the question. For example, international students can be routed to a team dedicated to international recruitment. Auto chat translation enable schools to further adapt to an international audience by automatically translating the message to the agent and back again to the student. 

4. Connect with students using SMS 

We’ve seen that young people don’t always respond well to email, which can create difficulty for schools wanting to reach prospective students with messages. SMS is a solution to this problem, allowing colleges and universities to send notifications and reminders to students in a way that’s less disruptive. 

Studies also show us just how much more responsive people are to SMS messages than emails. Compared to only 20% of business emails, 98% of business SMS are opened. People are also more than 4 times more likely to reply to SMS marketing than email. 

Comm100 helps schools reach prospective students using SMS through Comm100 Ticketing & Messaging. This allows agents to send and receive texts using the same agent console managing other digital conversations. Ticketing integration means that conversations can be sorted and prioritized based on urgency, and cases can be created and assigned to agents for follow-up. 

5. Go big(ger) on social media 

Like all online channels, social media has a huge influence on Gen Z. In one survey, 20% of Gen Zers surveyed said they spend more than 5 hours a day on TikTok alone. It shouldn’t be surprising then that social media is the channel most used by Gen Z to engage with brands. For postsecondary schools looking for ways how to increase student enrollment among this demographic, social media has become a channel that can’t be ignored. 

Staying on top of every social channel where schools have a presence can be difficult. Introducing an omnichannel platform like Comm100 makes it a breeze as it funnels every message from every social platform into a unified inbox. This includes Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp Business, WeChat, Line, Telegram, and more. 

Cpmm100’s omnichannel platform also allows agents to easily move the conversation without losing history or context. For example, if a prospective student reaches out on a public social channel and requires a private follow-up, these platforms allow the agent to easily move the conversation to a direct message or a new channel entirely, like SMS or email. As with SMS ticketing, these social messages can be easily sorted, tracked, and prioritized. 

Wrap Up 

These are just a few of the ways how to increase student enrollment that colleges and universities can use in 2023. For more ideas and to explore these strategies in more depth, download our complete guide below. 

4 Proven Strategies to Increase Enrollment this Fall

4 Proven Strategies to Increase Enrollment this Fall

This guide explores 4 cost-effective strategies that any school can adopt to help them engage with more prospective students and increase enrollment this fall.

Read more
Slides

About Kate Rogerson

Kate is the Content Marketing Manager at Comm100. She has extensive experience in content creation for technology companies across the world, including the UK, Australia and Canada. She specializes in B2B messaging, branding and soccer trivia.