It has been a tough road for law schools. First year enrollment dropped more than 25% over the past six years. And, while the February 2017 LSAT exam showed an increase in test takers, it hasn’t translated in applicants. For many institutions, this has meant forced budget cuts and paring down, not only of programs and services, but even faculty and staff. However, there may be some light at the end of the bleak tunnel that was law school admissions these last few years.
For the first time since 2010, when law school demand was its highest, the market is seeing an uptick in applications. Well, “uptick” may be overly optimistic since the raw numbers only reflect a handful more students. In reality, we should say the law school admissions market is stabilizing as application numbers are flat.
While this is indeed positive news, law schools certainly aren’t out of the woods. Our market is more saturated than ever with over 200 ABA accredited law schools fighting for the same students. The schools that win are thinking outside the box of what they’ve always done to recruit and enroll their classes.
Traditional tools alone, like attending law fairs and forums where students receive a viewbook and maybe a few minutes of an admission counselor’s time, just won’t cut it. It’s not just the landscape of legal education that has changed—the students have, too. Law schools are now faced with prospective students who divide their time between a plethora of devices, programs and apps, all competing for their attention.
Admissions offices need to cut through the noise and ensure that their recruitment emails and marketing pieces are actually reaching their potential students. If we want to make an impact with today’s savvy student, we need to disrupt the norm and change our old marketing ways. Here are three ideas to shake up your traditional law school recruitment methods:
Law School Forums aren’t going away. While the numbers have dropped from the thousands into the hundreds, forums are still a cost effective opportunity to increase brand awareness—especially in cities where you may want to expand. Instead of sending an email to your registered prospects on the CRS list, which every other law school attending that forum is also doing, why not use geofencing to serve prospective students ads and messaging about your brand? This strategy will increase visibility for your schools so that when and if they do open that traditional email, your content will stand out.
Thanks to LSAC’s dedication to detail and reporting, CRS searches can be done really strategically. In my opinion, there should be no one in your immediate surrounding that is looking at law schools and not applying to yours. There may be some great value proposition that your school offers that they’re just not aware of yet. Don’t discount viable prospects just because they didn’t initiate contact with you at the onset.
Retargeting will get you back out in front of these prospective students to remind them of your brand. Social media channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to enter email addresses and match them to a particular IP address so you can target their needs and interests, especially as it relates to your program.
Okay, so these are omnichannel consumers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t throw a curveball in there once in awhile. As an enrollment manager in this competitive landscape, you should constantly be re-evaluating your content and your communication flow. While everyone has (for good reasons) prioritized digital, doing away with tradition notes and postcards altogether may not be in your best interest. Print is on the rise with millennials and incoming generations of prospective students. Mix up your communication sequence and surprise your admitted student with a personalized congratulatory card from the dean. You’ll be surprised how much that means to them!