The competition between colleges and universities looking to attract first-generation students is fierce. So what strategies should you use to attract them?
A recent survey conducted by Niche looked at students whose parents have not graduated from a 2 or 4-year college as a marker for first-generation students. Of the 30,353 responses, 10,969 responded as first-generation college students.
Some strategies to help your school win over first-generation students in the recruitment process include:
Choosing the right communication channels
Every outreach channel has proven to be more influential to recruit first-generation students, with text messaging (+8% compared to their peers) and emails (+5%) making the biggest impact.
Ninety-four percent of first-generation students expect to receive emails and 82% want text messages from prospective schools.
They are much more open to outreach, so it's important to build dedicated and relevant conversation flows, focused on email and text, that help support them.
Lead with net tuition after financial aid
When it comes to messaging, make sure they have an accurate picture of what attending your school would cost.
- Approximately 76% of first-generation students eliminated colleges from consideration based on sticker price.
- Less than half said they would consider applying to a college with a total published cost of over $30,000 per year.
- Around 18% said they would only consider colleges with a total published cost of under $10,000.
It's also important to lead conversations about tuition with examples of the generous aid packages your school has available to first-gen college students. The more you can present your sticker price as close or identical to the net price with financial aid, the more likely you are to reach these students.
Share the first-generation student perspective
A diverse student population is one of the most important factors desired by all incoming students, and even more so for first-generation students. Don't claim to be a diverse campus (especially if you aren't) without backing up your statement.
Use email and texting as a way to share user-generated content that highlights your institution's diversity, and publish stories that showcase first-generation and BIPOC students thriving at your school.
Know their interests
First-generation students are less influenced by alumni networks. Either explain the benefits of alumni networks or avoid the topic altogether.
They are also less interested in athletics, so don't boast about your collegiate sports programs when communicating with first-generation prospects.
Utilize their connections with college counselors
Admissions counselors from colleges and their current school are extremely influential to first-generation college students in their decision. Ensure your recruitment strategy includes communications with the influencers who know how you can help these students flourish.
Peers and family have proven to be less influential in a students' college search process, although it is still important to work with families and educate them. When parents and family are involved and understand the process, they provide better support to the students.
Ultimately, different student groups require unique outreach strategies. If you aren't taking advantage of a texting platform to reach them, you're missing a critical channel of communication for first-generation students.
See how Mongoose's Cadence texting platform can enhance your recruitment strategies today.