It's no secret that the biggest challenge for career schools today is increasing enrollments. In recent news, Universal Technical Institute experienced a 9.79% decrease in their enrollments between March of 2014 and March of 2015.

What's encouraging, however, is that the career school saw strong show rates for their second quarter this year (up 500 basis points when compared with their starts from the same time last year!). Due to these strong show rates, UTI expects an increase in new student start growth in the fourth quarter of 2015.

So what sets UTI apart in their recruitment strategy? Along with lowering their registration fee, UTI attributes this positive trend to the two major changes the school had implemented this year: focusing on high-propensity marketing, and keeping students engaged during the enrollment process.

Here's a breakdown of these two tactics--what they entail, and how your school can benefit from them:

High propensity marketing

  • What it is: High Propensity Marketing is targeting your most critical audience: students who are most likely to be interested in your school, who are motivated and confident, and have good retention rates. 
  • Profile: Focus on the marketing channels that generate successful students. This audience not only fits the bill for the demographic you're targeting, but they also have the highest likelihood to progress and graduate on time.
  • Target: Develop a new understanding of who you're targeting. Your audience is diverse and complex, and the more you can begin to understand the lives, motivations, and interests of who you're high propensity market it, the more effective your recruitment marketing will become.
  • Evolve: In that vain, keep tabs on the evolving behaviors, attitudes, and ideals of your high-propensity audience; demographics change over time, so should your marketing tactics.

Engaging enrollment process

  • What it is: Authentic, experienced-based enrollment that provides exposure for potential students to the school. The key is to focus on relationship-building with potential students by building rapport and connection.
  • Communicate: Optimize your website for mobile usage. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and offers the option to submit forms from a smartphone or tablet. Consider using text messages as a way to stay connected with students. You can also send deadline reminders and send prompts for filling out financial aid applications or registering for orientation.
  • Connect: Frequently update your social media presence. Connect with students on a current, quick-responsive, and personal level.
  • Engage: Offer class passes, to help potential students decide if a program is right for them.

By generating inquiries and applications from students with the highest likelihood to start school, and keeping students engaged throughout the enrollment process, schools should see a positive improvement on recruitment all the way to graduation and job placement.

Learn more tips on how to improve your recruitment, enrollment, and retention strategies by downloading the slides from our webinar "Survey Says:Survey Says: Top Career School Challenges and How to Overcome Them.'

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Resources: Photo (1) Universal Technical Institute sees glimmer of hope for enrollment boost (2) How to Effectively Target High-Propensity Students in Higher Education Using Display Advertising (3) High Propensity Visitors: The True Attributes of People Attending Museums and Cultural Centers (DATA)