Intead (International Educational Advantage) recently conducted a cool experiment to answer the question: when a Chinese student inquires about admissions at your school, do you respond?
Modeling the mystery shopper idea, one of Intead’s analysts pretended to be a Chinese student interested in studying abroad and sent letters of inquiry to 30 universities in US, Canada, and Australia.
Through a QQ account (a common email service provider in China), the analyst asked about admissions requirements for Fall 2014 and also requested information in Chinese for his family.
What kind of response did he get, and how quickly did he get it?
54% (16 schools) replied within 24 hours (auto-generated or personal responses)
13% (4 schools) replied within a few days.
10% (3 schools) replied within a month.
Surprisingly, 23% (7 schools) did not reply at all. For the 7 schools that never got back, the conversation may end there.
Intead advisor Lisa Cynamon Mayers suggests the following ways to improve communication with prospective students. (Detailed information about specific university’s best practices come from Intead’s newsletter, which you can get by subscription)
- Incorporate auto-responses to inquiries to streamline admissions process – Syracuse University had an auto-response set up to thank prospective students for writing and to ask for patience as the admissions counselors got back to him. It was quickly followed by a personalized email with information about the school.
- Try to correspond in the native language of the students and parents, especially in countries like China, where parents have a strong influence – SUNY Binghamton offered the opportunity to connect with a Chinese-speaking staff member. A number of schools had documents in Chinese outlining facts about the school and admissions requirements.
- Use social channels that prospective students might have so you can connect with them on a platform they already use – The U. of Cincinnati tried to become friends via QQ and invited the inquiring analyst to join the prospective students group on QQ to facilitate discussion.
- Maintain contact with the prospective students throughout the entire recruitment and admissions cycle – this one should be no-brainer!
How does your school communicate with your Chinese applicants?