How Universities Engage–or Fail to Engage–Applicants Makes a Difference

By Travis Moon

A few months ago, I began applying to get my Master’s degree. It had been nearly 15 years since I went through an academic admission process, and a lot’s changed in that time–the growth of the internet, ease of access to information and student reviews for various programs, and the rise of social media. I’ve changed too; from a high school kid just excited to get in somewhere to a professional anxious about the time, energy, and finances I was getting ready to commit. I quickly discovered, however, that the thing that attracted me most to any given program was simple, old fashioned personal interaction.

I looked at roughly a dozen programs, all of which were available as online degrees. Each university had one thing in common: a place on their website to request more information. My assumption was that each of these schools knows I’m looking at multiple programs, so, after making a request, I sat back and waited to be courted. This was the make-or-break point for my decision making process, and man, do some schools get it wrong. Here are the types of responses I got:

• The Chumps: Of the 12 programs I applied to, four–seriously, four–never got back in touch. No email, no text, no call. I actually went back to one of these school’s websites, found the email address for the admissions office and wrote them to ask for information–and still heard nothing back.

• The Grumps: These folks at the very least reached back out with cursory information about their programs. But they lacked any sort of personal touch–the emails were boilerplate, without even my name as part of the template. These schools quickly made me feel like they just wanted my money, and didn’t care about me at all.

• The Blasters: These were the total information dumpers. They sent me three or four emails a day, asking me if I was interested, selling me on their financial packages, sharing all sorts of nice reviews. I can’t fault them for lack of information, but after a week, I was sending all of their emails to spam. Never once did anyone reach out to me personally.

• The Masters: Two of the universities really nailed it. Within a day of my request, I got a personal email back from someone in the admissions office to set up a time for us to talk and go over any questions I had. The same person stayed in touch with me, through email and phone calls, throughout the process, serving as a resource for the application process and a liaison to any other departments I needed to access.

Those two masters of the process were the only programs I actually applied for; even after I declined one of them, I still got an email from my admissions representative wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. It’s a simple touch, but it absolutely makes the difference in showing how invested any program was in my success, and who was worth my own investment.

Travis Moon is a seasoned professional writer with experience developing content for audiences across the healthcare, higher education, government, communications, and financial industries. Travis lives in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore and is currently working as a senior proposal writer for a IT services and staffing firm.

You can find Travis on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/travis-moon/21/615/79b

President’s Notes
Jonathan Oleisky

Jonathan Oleisky

President
Read the latest post from Kalix President Jonathan Oleisky.
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