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Reminder: Your Prospective Students Need Reminders

Reminder: Your Prospective Students Need Reminders

By Andy Shaw

I got a rude lesson in reminders last month.

This past December I received my vehicle registration letter in the mail and put it in a conspicuous spot so I can take care of it later.

Flash forward to March. I’m pulling out of a Starbucks, having just worked on some Accepted Student Day marketing for my private college.

A local police officer was positioned nearby, and I gave him a friendly smile. The cop pulled out behind me. Always a good sign. A minute later, he pulled me over. There was no way I was speeding. I thought through the possibilities.

That’s when I realized my inspection sticker expired in February. Fantastic! And then the officer kindly informed me my registration expired in December. Super!

The state had officially done its job with a letter in December and a sticker on my windshield with the date on it. Life, as usual, got in the way of me taking care of menial tasks and I got a nice $190 reminder reinforcement (and I got it all taken care of within two hours, not that that matters, fine-wise!).

What I wouldn’t have given for a few quick reminders!

Our problem as admissions marketing professionals

Our emergency is not their emergency. Our deadline is not their deadline. We worry about this stuff all the time. They forgot we even asked!

  • How many times do we look at attendance numbers for an Open House and wonder how could it be possible that people forgot to show up…to an event they registered for two months beforehand?
  • How often do we throw our hands up in exasperation at students not sending in official transcripts after applying? After all, we mentioned it once on the application and on some random place on the website!
  • How many times do we wonder why families fail to get the FAFSA done within the first month of it being available? Don’t they set a Google alert?!

We can’t levy a $190 fine for students not getting a transcript in within a week of applying — now that’s an idea! — but we can infuse our communication flow with periodic reminders.

It might seem annoying. But that’s because we’re assuming they are already on top of it. The truth, just like my registration and inspection, is that they have every intention of doing it but aren’t making it a priority because so many other distractions are happening all the time.

Three steps to improve your reminder process

1. Make it convenient.

How complicated is it for families to do all the required steps to enroll? Have you done them yourself to get a sense of how much time it takes?

If there are unnecessary steps or actions that require too many moving parts, get that simplified, pronto. It’s amazing how much money we all spend to recruit students only to make the actual act of enrolling as difficult as possible!

2. Make it top of mind.

This is where having multiple communication streams helps immensely.

At York College, we use texting to help with simple reminders. We also regularly use Facebook and Twitter for reminders, because we don’t assume that anything we send is going to be seen by the entire desired audience.

Build in some checklists and brief reminders throughout the enrollment cycle so that well-intentioned students can get the gentle nudge they need. And then send those same reminders to parents.

3. Make it useful.

It’s not annoying if it’s helpful! You have to remind yourself of this crucial fact when you hesitate to send a segment a second reminder that, yep, we still need your FAFSA.

You have no idea what is going on with their lives. Don’t assume they will get annoyed and write you off their list. If that is what causes them to remove you, you weren’t that great of an option.

And let this also be reminder to get your inspection and registration updated for your car.

See? Wasn’t that helpful?

collaboration practices andy shaw

Andy Shaw is the director of enrollment communications and operations at York College of Pennslyvania, a private four-year residential school. He also is a speaker, columnist, comedian, and father of three toddlers.