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Making the Most of an Understaffed Admissions Team

Lauren Cunningham |Nov 17, 2021

The fall recruitment season is in full swing, but many college and university admissions teams are facing the same problem: they are short staffed and don’t know how they are going to get everything done to get through this cycle successfully.

If this sounds like your team, here are a few simple but impactful things you can still accomplish. These best practices will help you attract the right-fit applicants to your institution, even if you have less help than in a typical year.

Share Authentic Student Stories.

Nothing says authentic like a student-shot film. Ask current students to record their answers to common questions prospective students have like, “Why did you choose this school?,” “What do you love about campus?,” and “What is your favorite part about being a member of this community?” This way, you have an easy way to create a connection between current and prospective students.

Student-shot footage may not be extremely high quality, but it gives a more “real” feel to the information that is shared, and does not require the time of your staff during filming. It is, however, important to ensure the video is put together by a professional who understands storytelling and can combine all of the student clips in a meaningful way. Instagram and Facebook stories are great places to share this content. Consider having current students do “day-in-the-life” takeovers with social media stories leading up to application deadlines.

Effectively Showcase Your Campus.

Current students love to show off their school. Let student tour guides film their favorite places on campus and tell stories about different experiences they have had in these places. Use this content in a weekly social media series to highlight a different area of campus each week that could appeal to prospective students.

Additionally, a self-guided virtual campus tour is perfect for when campus tours are overbooked or limited because of staffing shortages. Visitors can use it after a tour to explore areas of campus that a guided tour doesn’t have time to cover, or if they are visiting during off hours. These virtual guided tours are much more effective than traditional map PDFs, especially for the average Gen-Z prospective student who is used to navigating with a GPS.

Create A Robust Online Experience.

Your website is most likely the first place prospective students will go to gather information about your institution. However, a majority of prospective students have indicated that college and university websites need to be easier to navigate and the information provided on them needs to be clearer. Go through your website and make sure that all of the questions you most commonly get in emails and phone calls can be answered with just one or two clicks. It may take some time up front, but will allow your limited staff to complete other necessary tasks rather than answering the same questions over and over!

Prospective students also love video. The most-used social media apps among Gen-Z are largely video based, like TikTok, Youtube, and Snapchat. This indicates that video is much more effective at catching prospective student attention than text or images. Sort through your existing video content to find the best and most relevant videos to place in strategic locations on your website. Video is the most effective way to capture attention and make your institution stand out.

Your team may be thinking that once you wait out the “Great Resignation” this admissions season, you will be able to make some hires and get back to normal. However, trends are indicating in every industry that this worker shortage is not going to disappear any time soon. Start thinking about reshaping your team and redistributing your work for this new normal. These tips are a great start to thinking about making the most of a smaller team, but long term implications are also going to have to be considered soon.