Does your work have anything to do with student recruitment, marketing, or retention? If you answered yes, then you absolutely have to attend the National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention. A Noel-Levitz-sponsored event, the "NCSRMR" was held last week in Denver, Colorado and it was tremendous. More than 1,300 higher education professionals attended and almost 1,000 tweets were posted to the conference backchannel.
Having never before been to a conference that was put on by a vendor (instead of an association), I grabbed my laptop (to tweet/share resources with the backchannel) and proceeded to have an extremely meaningful experience. The majority of sessions were full of useful insights, ideas, and data. "Actionable" is the first word that comes to mind when I think about the sessions. Yes, I'll definitely be back for the NCSRMR when it's in Chicago next year.
Perhaps the most-attended, and certainly quite informative, was the session about the 2011 E-Expectations Report. Presented by Stephanie Geyer, Lance Merker, and Ryan Munce, this session was chock full of data for higher education marketers. The statistic that generated a lot of buzz was the percentage (75%) of prospective students and their parents who "say they never or only rarely read blogs on college sites." Several attendees posited that students/parents most-likely weren't aware that a lot of content being viewed was being powered by a blogging platform.
Validating what a lot of us already know about communications were the statistics about email use. 86% of students and 80% of parents use email and are checking it on a regular basis. Yes, email is not dead...it's quite alive.
A session that might have intimidated some due to its content was the fantastic presentation by Mark Greenfield on "Managing the Unmanageable: Web Governance in Higher Education." Anyone who cares about marketing, recruitment, enrollment management, alumni relations, and retention (let's face it, almost any functional area in higher education) should have attended this session. In higher education, our websites are generally a mess when it comes to governance and brand consistency. Greenfield's presentation should be required for anyone who creates, edits, designs and/or has anything to do with webpages.
When I wrote about the NCSRMR in June, I was excited about its potential. Now that I've actually attended the event, I can't wait for next year.
Did you attend the NCSRMR? What did you think? What are your most pressing issues regarding student recruitment and retention?
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