Everyone knows the gist of those wedding dress reality shows. After trying on two or three dresses to no avail, the bride finds THE dress, which is usually accompanied by a few tears.

While college admissions doesn’t involve nearly as much glitter as those wedding shows, most prospective students check out a few schools before committing to one. And like those shows, each student is different when it comes to their eagerness to find THE college.

If you want to close the deal with your prospective students, you need to tailor your marketing to their level of commitment. Whether you are on an admissions deadline or have rolling acceptances, this time of year is great for a final push.

Here are a few tips to leverage online forms and engage prospective students to say “Yes!” to your school.

Students who have been accepted

Encourage your incoming class to engage with their soon-to-be classmates via social media. Some universities are having great success by creating a custom admissions hashtags. They accompany a student’s acceptance letter and spur online engagement.  Hashtags like #SchoolNameSaidYES or #SchoolNameBound gives newly admitted students a fun way to announce their acceptance—and their commitment—to their friends and family.

Have your admissions office respond on social media to welcome new students who use the hashtag. You can also include it on graphics for easy sharing. If create your hashtag, be aware that some jokesters (or rejected students) are likely to make their own #SchoolNameSaidNO hashtag. In the social media age, be prepared for the ups and downs of admissions to be made public.

Students who have been accepted but haven’t responded

There’s nothing worse than someone leaving you hanging! Those students who have been accepted but have not responded are a big question mark. Their delay is understandable. They might be waiting to hear back from another choice, or to hear about scholarships or financial aid.

No matter what the reason for the delay, you want to encourage these students to make the right choice. Give them a friendly phone call to gauge their situations and answer questions that may have arisen. Offer a contest to encourage engagement with your school as they make their decision. Keep your school at the top of their minds with carefully-timed communication.

Students who haven’t applied

Some students requested information but never got around to applying. To encourage engagement, reach out via an email campaign. A drip campaign can be an effective way to nurture this population of students. Each email should provide a separate message to re-engage prospective students.

A drip campaign allows you to communicate strategically about the advantages of your school. The campaign should have a flow that tells a story. Include a strong call to action at the end of the campaign—and to encourage additional applications, include a code to waive your application fee.

Special events get students off the fence

Create invitation-only campus visits for indecisive students; they might need an additional nudge. Customize the events to students’ potential majors and interests. Enlist current students to meet with them or even host them in their dorms. Help them envision themselves at home on campus.

Use simple online forms to manage registration and integrate with your email marketing campaigns. For example, you could send a new video tour to students who reply “no” to the visit. For those who reply “yes,” you can send a personal note from a current student ambassador who will coordinate their visit.

Closing the deal

Moving a student from interest to acceptance can be a long nurturing process. It’s a great feeling when you see the excitement from your incoming classes all over social media. Careful attention to prospective students can result in improved acceptance rates and higher levels of student engagement. Create a plan to increase the number of incoming students next fall.

About the Author

Laura Thrasher is a freelance writer for Formstack, an online form building platform that makes it easy to capture and manage data. Based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, she taught English at the University of Alabama and enjoys sharing what she knows through speaking and writing. She is originally from the Midwest and enjoys good restaurants, cheesy jokes, and running the occasional half marathon. Follow her on Twitter (@lauranav) or Google+.


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