Four Little Words

Colleges and universities across the country say these four little words to thousands of students each year. And prospective students typically hear these words from multiple schools. According to Niche’s 2017 College Acceptance report, the typical incoming freshman applies to four schools and is accepted by three of them.

We know that a student’s commitment to a particular college or university is influenced by a variety of factors that seem to constantly change. How does a college or university stand out and continue to recruit students even after they’ve been accepted?

Well, as is true in so many situations, it’s not necessarily what you say, it’s how you say it. A growing number of schools are taking a unique approach to college acceptance milestone in an effort to foster a stronger commitment to attend. Treating acceptance like a celebration (who didn’t love the videos of the remarkable Little brothers last year) presents a creative opportunity for schools to really stand out.  

Instead of a form letter sent in a regular envelope (which looks a lot like everything else already in a student’s mailbox), a growing number of schools are utilizing customize acceptance packets to celebrate this milestone and foster commitment with future students. Depending on budgets and the typical number of students your institution accepts, a custom acceptance packet can be a great way to stand out.

We’ve recently helped create a variety of customized acceptance packets focused around three common goals:  

  1. Celebrate the student

  2. Build a connection to the institution’s brand

  3. Provide clear next steps

Many schools are working hard to help their acceptance communication stand out. Smart acceptance packets put their packaging to work in different ways:

  • Colorful converted envelopes and small boxes stand apart from the more standard business envelope, making it clear that acceptance is something to celebrate.

  • The use of inclusive or celebratory language on the outside of the mailer promotes the “you’re in” mentality right from the start.

Building on the official acceptance letter, including a variety of branded items can be a great way to build on your school’s brand identity or introduce campus traditions. From custom items like vintage pennants or beach towels, to affordable die-cut stickers and car decals, admissions teams are shifting budgets to invest in quality branded items that an accepted student will actually use (and be excited about).

Some of the most effective acceptance packets, though, aren’t just full of promotional items. They include helpful literature that draws potential students one step closer to enrollment. Think insider guides and helpful checklists of next steps.

College acceptance is also valuable social currency. Instructions, or a hashtag, give accepted students a way to share their excitement socially, creating a gold mine of sharable content (check out #seeyouatthepoint or #westmontsaidyes). Or, for a handful of local students, consider delivering your acceptance packets in person. Bonus points if you take your mascot like the folks at Butler - their handful of drop-in deliveries of their acceptance packet have made local and national news, along with heart-warming social content.

Are you ready to re-think your acceptance process and communication? We’d love to brainstorm along with you.

Caffee, Alex. “2017 College Admissions Report.” June 5, 2017.

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