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Articles: Recruitment

 

ANY COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY THAT ISN'T WEB 2.0 to its fullest is falling behind. We all know that. Colleges need to be RSSing, Digging, tweeting, blogging, social networking, virtual worlding, podcasting, Flickring, YouTubing, and wikiing. (My apologies for creating new and possibly horrific verbs.)

If your institution is swimming in appealing candidates for admission each year, more than you could possibly desire, then this article may not be for you.

For all other colleges and universities, the bedrock of a healthy applicant pool usually involves large-scale marketing outreach, often with the assistance of high-volume name buys--known generically as “search.”

As branding initiatives in higher education have emerged and evolved over the past two decades, the media-outreach segments of the plans often continue to miss the mark. The reason? The campus professionals who are responsible for strategic communication are often relegated to a back-seat role in the process, or are left in the dark until the branding campaign is ready to be rolled out.

 

Rugged four-hour practices, aggressive recruiting, fierce competition, and the non-stop pursuit of national championships are what you would expect to find on the campuses of college basketball and football powerhouses. But those same elements are in full view at the considerably smaller University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and University of Texas at Dallas, where the world-class chess teams are generating national attention, giving new meaning to sports scholarships, and offering novel ways to recruit high-caliber students.

When I applied to colleges 40 years ago, I wrote letters to six schools and received a view book from each with a friendly cover letter, an invitation to visit the campus, an application, and a pointer to an alum or two who would be glad to sit down with me and discuss my future.

E-mail is dead, long live Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Social networking sites are all the rage, and we should just go ahead and discard any of the old working models ... or so the prognosticators of teen communication culture would have us believe. While it is true that the trends are pointing away from "traditional" methods of reaching prospective students, it doesn't mean that your educational institution should completely forsake the old reliables: direct mail and e-mail.

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