We have passed the fall mile markers. September/October travel season. Check. Thanksgiving. Check. December 1. Check. January 1. Check.

Enrollment managers now find themselves speeding headlong into yield season and asking questions.

  • Did Student Search produce quality prospects at the top of the funnel?
  • Did the travel plan support the goal?
  • Is the communication flow working as we planned?
  • Are we providing the right financial aid packages to students?
  • Are we getting enough students to visit campus?

By this time of the year, there are fewer enrollment “levers” to flip to ensure you meet your fall class numbers. If you are not on pace to reach your goal, don’t throw in the towel. Instead, consider how you can use these three options to get back on track.

Discount Rate
At the mid-year point, it pays to evaluate the discounting plan for your recruiting pool. Look at those who have received a financial aid package (more of them thanks to prior/prior). Who has accepted the package? Who has not accepted?

Evaluate if the plan is working. Look for student types (cells) that are either under-awarded or over-awarded. Bring in your financial aid staff to review students, who have not yet been awarded. Plan any necessary changes to your awarding strategies moving forward. Financial aid dollars have a bottom-line impact. Your CFO will thank you.

Are enough applications coming in? How does your application pool compare to previous years? Are you seeing changes in your profile (academic, geographic, gender, athlete/non-athlete, etc.)? Different market segments convert and yield differently. If you are seeing a significant uptick in your athlete applications, and know you have limited roster spots available on those teams, are the application numbers reflecting your school’s reality?

When applications are below where you like them to be, consider an application generation campaign. There are always hidden pockets of life in inquiry pools. By finding them with an application campaign, you can generate a few more applications. Every enrolled student is critical to meeting your university’s goals.

Campus Visits
A campus visit is typically one of the strongest indicators of interest.  Determining if visits are up or down, is a good indicator of the “health” of your funnel. Converting campus visitors to applications or enrolled students should top your priority list.

If visits are down, or if your visitors are not converting to applications, look for ways to incentivize visitors by deploying one of these tactics:

  • Campus store discount: Offer “20% off on your first campus store spirit-wear,” and let them redeem the discount online.
  • Travel reimbursement: Many schools are on the way to somewhere, so they get numerous drop-in Other schools are destinations, and a special effort is required to visit. If your campus is off the beaten track, travel reimbursements can help you bring more prospects to your campus. This was an effective tactic for me, and I was always surprised at the number of students who looked for travel help.
  • Application fee: Offer to waive the application fee, if students visit your campus. It may not be much, but application fees add up for students. This offer could help tip the scales for you.
  • Faculty contact: If you are at a college with an engaged faculty (or even a few key professors), this could be a great option for you. Ask selected faculty members to reach out to students. You should always respect their comfort levels with the process. Some will be fine with sending a letter or email. Others will make a call. No matter what they are willing to do, their effort helps you. The best outreach is both personal and trackable. One option that fits both those criteria, is a tool called Bomb Bomb. This is an inexpensive subscription-based email solution. Senders can record short videos and send them to students. Once the email is sent, you can track if the student received, opened and watched the video. Whatever method the faculty member wants to use to reach out to your student pool, at this time of year, it might be a “make or break” opportunity for you!

While there are no magical answers, you still have options. Look at your situation objectively. Stay positive, consider your options, and act!