Campus News

Student recruitment efforts weathered pandemic challenges

Admissions advisors at Kirkwood Community College say despite minor setbacks in their efforts to recruit new students during the past 18 months, the college has been largely successful in this endeavor in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consequently, the college reported a spike in individual tours and visitations from students and their families, often booked at record level capacities weekly, even as their standard group visits to local high schools around the state significantly decreased during this time.

But despite a few setbacks, admissions advisors have high expectations this academic year in their recruitment efforts and looks forward to a full roster of student visitations this fall, said Nick Kettman, Kirkwood admissions advisor.

According to insidehighered. com, an online publication that provides educational news, resources, and jobs centered on colleges and university-related topics, community colleges around the country were faced with the task of utilizing a myriad of strategies in order to remain adept in their recruiting efforts during the pandemic.

These include incentives such as marketing campaigns, cash incentives, as well as offering books and supplies to prospective students. And although Kirkwood did not offer such incentives, nonetheless, data from the college’s Office of Institutional Research indicates that incoming applications remained steady based on prior years.

According to the data it is customary to receive the bulk of student applications during the fall semester, which explains the difference in lower numbers in the spring.

Some of the concerns the college encountered in their recruitment efforts was the inability to attend in-person visits to local high schools due to COVID-19 restrictions and travel limitations throughout various regions of the state.

Also, the college’s signature recruitment event, College Days was adversely impacted. However, despite these impediments, Kettman said reliance on virtual appointments through Zoom meetings was a game changer and allowed them to gain ground through the use of technology in spite of setbacks they faced.

Moreover, although limited, the college was able host individual visits in blocks of two families at time in the fall for social distancing purposes and later increased those numbers in the spring, said Shannon Felderman, admissions advisor.

As a result of these improvised recruitment efforts, admissions staff say they plan to keep virtual visits as an option for students.

They also tout an ease in recruiting through a new texting platform this fall which allows advisors to connect with prospective students more efficiently based on data collected from the college’s contact system or students who have already applied.

Admissions staff said they to continue connecting with prospective students through enhanced technology system, Signal Vine.

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