The recruitment funnel outlines the process that a student goes through before they show up on campus. The timeline around that funnel is different for every student.
The recruitment cycle on the other hand, runs with the year and is structured around dates and deadlines. The recruitment cycle starts when active recruitment starts. For us, right now, that’s the beginning of senior year (August-September time frame).
The funnel should line up, to a certain degree, with the cycle. They work in tandem together with both pushing students from one bucket to the next. The funnel informs what should be done, and the cycle informs when it should be done.
At the beginning of the cycle, we purchase names from ACT, NRCCUA, SAT, College Board, or any other list server. We start communicating with those students with the intention of sparking interest.
We’ll but other names at other times during the year but they will be younger students, trying to get a head start on the recruitment funnel.
The recruitment cycle is driven by deadlines and events. Those deadlines and events are tactics to move students from one bucket of the funnel to another.
Because the fall is primarily generating interest and applications, that’s when we schedule high school visits, college fairs, open houses, and push campus visits (campus tours and other prospective student events). The big deadline for the fall that these events revolve around is our priority deadline, where students can qualify for the maximum amount of scholarship money.
The highest achieving and best-prepared students are statistically very active in their search in the fall while making a decision of where to attend in the late winter, early spring. If quality is what you’re after this is a good place to focus.
With this big push for numbers in the fall, December becomes a transition month. We move out of generating applications and into completing those applications.
Just like the fall is driven by the priority deadline the first part of spring is driven by the scholarship deadline. This deadline pushes students to complete their applications in order to qualify for scholarship money.
From the beginning of the year to the scholarship deadline our conversations with students and with their counselors are all about completing applications to qualify for scholarship money.
After the scholarship deadline, we change the focus to registration and starting their academic career right but getting into the right classes. This drives the commitment to the institution.
Even though the recruitment cycle is driven by deadlines we are constantly trying to get students onto campus. No matter where students are at in the funnel we ask them to show up. A lot of our communications are organized around school holidays.
Setting these deadlines and outlining the recruitment cycle is a matter of understanding the institutions big picture goals. Are they looking to grow numbers, quality, or revenue? These should determine where the deadlines land in the recruitment cycle.
The other thing to take into consideration is the student's culture of the area and students' decision habits when it comes to higher education. In Utah, 60% of graduating males leave for two years of church service before attending college. Nationally, most students make their college decision between the end of January and the beginning of May. This kind of data will help you understand what you can and can’t get away with, or what exceptions need to be made before you the recruitment cycle is solidified.
My CRM manager and I have a joke that everything is set in stone until it’s not. After making a decision be flexible with those decisions, you never know if they’re going to need to change. Changes should be made incrementally that way they can be tested and then optimized.