By Suzan Brinker, PhD
Higher ed communicators are well aware of the challenge they are currently facing – the need to engage the campus community and drive applications into the funnel during a global pandemic. This is no easy task given that many prospective students are currently wondering if they should change their college/grad school plans, and international student mobility has been disrupted in an unprecedented manner.
Yet, colleges and universities are staying resilient and are coming up with creative messaging while the pandemic persists.
1. George Mason Student Survey
With many students disappointed in their online learning experience, George Mason signaled that their campus administration wants to listen to student concerns and handle them with transparency and a commitment to proactive tweaking of the experience. Efforts like this build trust with campus constituencies, including prospective students and their families.
2. Tufts Commencement Change
Tufts University initially announced that it would hold a virtual commencement for the Class of 2020, but revised this plan once students and others expressed dissatisfaction with the approach. Instead, the university committed to rescheduling an in-person commencement once it is safe for graduates to get together. Similar to the George Mason example, this demonstrates a commitment to listening to students and factoring their voice into leadership decisions.
3. SNHU New Tuition Model
In mid-April, Southern New Hampshire University announced a new model that will cut tuition from $31,000 to $10,000 and make the first year on campus free for freshmen through a new innovation scholarship. This bold move has allowed the New England institution, which has emerged as a major leader in online higher education, to position itself on the forefront of re-imagining college access and affordability.
4. Boston College Campus Video
Boston College tweeted out a video featuring highlights from their campus and campus life. The messaging appeals to both current students, who may be missing the spaces they usually frequent, and prospective students and families, who may be curious about what Boston College looks like.
5. BU President Brown’s OpEd on Fall Reopening
Brown University president, Christina Paxson, published an Op Ed in the New York Times arguing for the need to resume in-person classes this fall. This allowed her to position Brown as a strategic leader during this time and ushered in a polarizing but needed debate about the risks and benefits of abandoning the online-only model.
For our summary of the most impactful ideas for protecting college enrollment pipelines from Covid-19, read our blog post here.
You can also watch our webinar on enrollment marketing during Covid-19 and listen to my interview on the Enrollify podcast about how to leverage faculty and stay strategic during this time. These are unchartered waters for higher education, and we are all in this together. A strategic approach to this crisis can strengthen your institution well beyond Covid-19. As always, let us know how we can help.