One of the biggest challenges facing recruitment and admissions teams over the coming months will be ensuring that admitted students and future applicants are fully informed and remain engaged in the admissions process.
As a Higher Education institution admissions leader, you are best served by proactively preparing your admissions and recruitment teams to alter their approach as the COVID-19 situation changes:
Set-up a regular communication channel with all external stakeholders – including admitted students, students awaiting a decision, pipeline applicants and prospective future students. This should be a set time and channel each week. A regular video update from an admissions leader helps applicants feel at ease. This also gives you as a team a deadline to address new developments each week and gives your applicants an opportunity to see if you address their questions before they reach out to you directly.
At the same time, you also need to be ready to send updated messaging outside of this channel if the situation requires.
Find ways to split your human resources between dealing with current and future applicants. To ensure that your institution comes out of the COVID-19 outbreak on track, you need to ensure sufficient time and resource is focused on both yield and pipeline development. It is important to put processes in place to ensure that future applicants aren’t sacrificed in the current confusion to ensure admitted students make it into the Fall 2020 start.
Fully understand policies in place if students start to defer – and if there is room to, lobby for flexibility with deferral policies that align with your admissions strategy and current status.
No-one likes to think too much about the medium- and long-term negative effects that the COVID-19 situation will have on Higher Education, but it is smart prerogative to plan now for worst-case scenarios. At least have some high-level thoughts in place and some initial discussion for scenarios such as no international visas being issues to students in time for 2020 start dates, or a delayed/move-to-online start for Fall 2020 classes, or how your recruitment strategy would change if your team can’t travel to international locations until 2021?
Be open to new ideas and ready for anything!