The Cost of Attracting the Wrong Students

This is the third in a series of posts about the importance of differentiating your college’s message from the messages of other schools.

Your goal in recruiting is not simply to attract students, but to attract the right students. You’re looking for the students who will stay and succeed at your institution. You’re well aware how frustrating and morale-killing it is when a student that you have successfully recruited leaves after a semester or two, declaring that the school wasn’t what he had thought it was going to be. 

Noel-Levitz helps to put the cost in more concrete terms.  According to the company’s 2013 Report on Undergraduate Enrollment Trends, for small private colleges (the smallest third in enrollment size), the median cost of recruiting one student was $2,392. You know how much revenue you generate per student per year. If a student stays four years, that $2,392 is a sound investment. If that student stays for one year, that $2,392 is a huge dent. If the student stays only one semester, the dent is twice as huge.

Your institution isn’t for everybody. No institution is. It is important, therefore, that you not cast too wide a net in your messaging. When you honestly and clearly communicate who you are as an institution—and how you are distinct from every other institution—you attract more of the right students and fewer of the students who decide that your school isn’t a good fit and leave after a semester or two