Student recruitment…. 8 secret shopping emails in December

Student Recruitment… 8 emails in December from 3 schools

We saw in the update for November that fewer of our six schools were sending new email contacts. That trend continued in December, with a slight reduction in total email received. While three schools made contact, most of these were again from just two sources: the “private college in upstate NY” and the “private university in Massachusetts.
OK, let’s have a look at the messages sent in December as a January 15 application deadline grew near.

  • December 1: From the “private college in upstate NY” comes a reminder that the Early Decision and Early Action deadline is “midnight tonight!.” To take advantage of the “Fast-Forward Application” that I can complete in only an hour I’d better send in that app by midnight. I’ll know by admission status before the holidays. Other reminders: no application fee and no essay required.
  • December 2: “Exciting news” from the “private college in upstate NY.” The admissions director has been able to get me “one more day” to complete the “Fast-Forward Application.” 
  • December 2: An email arrives from the “private university in Massachusetts” that profiles in text and video a senior student who loves organic chemistry and was one of four student in the U.S. selected for an internship at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. At the end there is a discrete link to apply for admission.
  • December 3: Our “most selective university” is back for the first time since October 29 with another invitation to join a December 4 chat event. If I can’t make the event, I’m invited to a Facebook site. Although brief, this is another email that would benefit from spacing between paragraphs.
  • December 5: I’ve mentioned before that I suspect two different offices at the “private college in upstate NY” are sending emails to the inquiry pool. Today’s email, also from the director of admissions, is in a different format (clear & easy to read) than the “Fast Forward Application” series. The subject line and text asks me to call if I need any application help. A link to a page where I can get FAFSA help is also featured.
  • December 8: At the “private college in update NY” the admissions director is still “eagerly awaiting” my application as I’ve been “handpicked” to “thrive” at this school. Unlike the December 5 message, the text in this series is too small and cramped for easy reading.
  • December 14: An unusual email arrives from the “private university in Massachusetts” to let me know that I have a personal financial aid counselor available who will help me with financial planning. When I follow the link I find photos of the counselors, including email and phone number to make a contact. That’s different than anything else received.
  • December 14: The subject line from the “private college in upstate NY” tells me that the admissions director is “still eager to hear” from me. The tone of this email is calmer than earlier ones in this group. The director wishes me well this year, reminds me of the “Fast-Forward Application” benefits, and suggests I might want to finish my app today because it is, after all, “so quick and easy.”

That’s all for December.

Nothing unusual for December, other than one email with a special emphasis on contacting a financial aid counselor. January beckons and we have so far received 10 emails from four schools. The pace did indeed pick up as January application deadlines drew near. And yes, I’ll bet you can pick the two schools that were most active since January 1.

I’ll likely have the next summary written up next week.

You can commission a similar secret shopping project.

I’ve just started a new secret shopping project for a client in the Mid-West. While I’ll blog and tweet about some general observations from that work, specifics are reserved for the client.

Contact me at to arrange your own (and truly secret) secret shopping review to see how you stand vs. your competitors when someone makes an inquiry online. One hint based on this new venture: more schools just might reduce the number of “stealth” applicants if they would only make the inquiry form easy to find.

That’s all for now.

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