One of the most important and influential days in a young student’s life will be A-level results day; the day they discover the outcome of all their hard work and study over the past two years. For some however, results day will mean a quick change of plan, as those who didn’t manage to achieve the grades they were predicted realise they will not be able to attend the university course they applied for.
Over 61,000 students went through Clearing last year, many in a panicked and emotional rush, each hoping to find a place on a course that suits their goals and their grades. Meanwhile for universities, this period is just as busy — and just as important, in order to fill places for September’s courses, while also boosting brand awareness among UK nationals.
Here are a few things to do during Clearing in order to maximise your last-minute student recruitment:
Provide a results day online help pack
When students receive grades lower than they were expecting, they are likely to be in a bit of a panic, so having all the information they need readily available is vital. Create an online ‘Results Day Help Pack’ that students can access and/or download, complete with steps they need to take, spaces that are still available and how quickly they can get enrolled.
If you run a university blog, it’s a good idea to post about what steps students should be taking, featuring prominently on your university website. Making the information very visible and easy to access will give stressed-out students a lot of comfort during Clearing and help endear your university brand to them.
Use your blog to answer frequently asked questions and set up an FAQ section so that Clearing students can navigate to it as soon as they land on your university website. Giving students the answers they’re looking for quickly and easily allows them more opportunity to relax and connect with your university brand.
It’s also important to carefully select the keywords you use in your posts; consider what prospective students will be searching for when they are looking for advice. According to Google’s Keyword Planner, ‘university clearing’ has an average 1,920 searches monthly, whereas ‘UCAS clearing’ currently has 12,600 monthly searches. So title your blog posts and online articles with the keywords that will draw in the most student searches.
Use alumni to showcase your university courses
While you may not have been these particular students’ first choice, you will have been the first choice for many others. Be sure to show off why your university is popular, what its strengths are and why it is so highly regarded.
Now is the ideal time to specifically highlight the benefits of courses that have spaces left to fill. The alumni of those particular courses are a valuable resource you should be tapping, in terms of interviews and testimonials. Insights directly from alumni provide a real-life perspective which is highly valued by prospective students, giving them a clear idea of how the course has benefitted others and providing inspiration for their own future plans.
Be online and be available
Needless to say your administrative staff will likely be all hands on deck this week, with many of them glued to the telephone throughout the weekend; so make sure your digital team is doing the same.
Being on-hand to answer questions instantly will help to settle students on the idea of enrolling at your university much faster. In addition to showing professionalism, a timely response could be the clincher when an information-desperate student is searching for a place to study and seeking certainly as quickly as possible.
This could mean replying to emails outside of regular office hours, giving a student the response they were looking for more quickly than another university; monitoring social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook and responding instantly to questions, concerns and conversations on social media; and running instant-chat and online forums through your university website so prospective students can ask questions instantly there as well.
A swift but serious decision
While their decisions may be rushed, prospective students applying through Clearing will still take the decision-making process seriously; higher education is still a significant investment whether they are applying through Clearing or not.
Read more articles and tips on student recruitment on our blog.
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