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The Key to Increasing Summer Enrollment: Personalizing Outreach

Summer classes can make a huge difference to college students’ academic careers, but many of them never take advantage of the opportunity. Some don’t realize that the advantage. Others don’t know that their grants or scholarships, such as Pell Grants, can potentially be used towards summer class fees. Many are simply intimidated by the extra paperwork and stick with the traditional fall/spring schedule out of sheer momentum.

Schools have a lot to gain by raising enrollment for summer classes. They help leverage otherwise underused classroom space. Their students are more likely to graduate successfully. It even adds nicely to the bottom line. It’s a situation in which everyone wins. So how can schools increase summer enrollment?

Why Enroll in Summer Classes?

Selling students on the advantages of summer classes is the best way to get them to sign on. Schools can emphasize some of the most important ways taking classes in the summer can help students meet their goals.

Graduate Faster

Adding an extra semester to the year can help students get out into the real world much faster. It lets business-oriented students start earning real money more quickly. It also increases the chance that students will actually graduate by decreasing the amount of time in which life events can derail their plans.

More Availability

Getting into some of the more popular spring/fall classes can be a challenge. Using the summer term as a way to complete popular requirements can open up some flexibility in students’ schedules.

Smaller Classes

The smaller class sizes that are common in summer courses offer much more opportunity for personal interactions.

Greater Flexibility for Study Abroad and Internships

Taking internships during the school year and studying abroad are amazing ways for students to get a richer college experience. But sometimes jumping through the hoops necessary to do so and graduate on time is daunting. Taking a few summer classes can make it much easier to pursue opportunities during the traditional school year.

How Schools Can Help Students Learn the Advantage of Summer Enrollment

Despite these advantages, many students may need some persuasion to consider taking classes during the summer. How can schools better communicate the possibilities?

Recently, a group of Ohio community colleges discovered one secret is to increase the personalization of their communications with their students.

“The study found 31.5 percent of students enrolled in summer courses in 2017 and 2018 when they received personalized emails and letters. Only 26.2 percent of students enrolled in summer courses with generic information.”

By adding students’ names and personalizing the information about their particular financial aid situations and course recommendations, they were able to capture students’ attention far better than a generic reminder. Including the contact information and name of a specific adviser the student could turn to for help made the application process far less daunting and confusing.

“Headlam said the colleges saw enrollment increases prior to and after the restoration of year-round Pell, an indication that the personalized messaging based on behavioral science does play a role in increasing student summer attendance.”

It’s clear that personalization can make a big difference.

Taking Personalization One Step Farther to Increase Summer Enrollment

Personalized emails are a great start. But emails are easy to skim over, and at the end of the day, are still just cold text. Video can make this even more effective.

Adding a short video message about that financial information and those course recommendations could be even more powerful. Better than just including some contact information for an adviser, having the adviser actually speak directly to the student makes a world of difference in making the student feel supported and understood. It creates a personal relationship. Schools care deeply whether their students successfully graduate; seeing a human actually reaching out helps students feel that care. A video also stands out in a cluttered inbox, making it far more likely that the student will actually absorb the information.

This is one of the reasons we introduced Kaltura Pitch. Adding video messages to emails make them feel personal and sincere. It helps the email stand out. But it’s also really easy to use, a critical feature when trying to communicate with a large number of people. Even better, it allows the sender to track whether or not the recipient actually watched the video. Advisers who are worried about students in danger of failing can tell whether students are actually paying attention to their communications, and reach out again or in other ways if they’re not getting through.

Using video messages to help students see the benefits of summer enrollment makes for a powerful tool for helping both students and educational institutions achieve their goals.

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