“Are you accepting new students?”

We’re seeing this question being sent to colleges on Facebook more than ever before. This is important for two reasons:

  1. Many prospective students, likely in the “non-traditional” age range, are seeking new career options during the economic fallout from the COVID-19 situation. 
  2. A significant number of them, however, aren’t sure if colleges are even “open” or accepting applications. 

As I’ve been saying, there is so much clutter out there, so much distraction, and it is going to be very difficult for colleges to get in front of and engage potential students. For every prospective student that takes the time to seek out a college and inquire about its status, there are likely many more scared and unsure what to do next, unaware of your college and your opportunities.

Like every recession and economic downturn before this one, we are saddened to hear the stories of persons losing jobs and income, but we are encouraged by the opportunities that our institutions have to offer. 

We’ve all seen student success stories about people that lost a job or encountered some hardship, but used it as a springboard to a better life. I’m sure your school has many former students that have such a story to tell. Now is a great time to pull these stories off the shelf and get them out there for the public to see. 

Seeing businesses close that may never be able to reopen, and seeing countless people losing their jobs, is truly gut-wrenching. But seeing these same people approach new careers—and the schools that can get them there—with excitement and optimism is so inspiring. It reminds me why we all do what we do: to connect people with life-changing opportunities. 

With every problem and challenge, there is an opportunity. For every institution of higher learning, we have opportunities today to comfort struggling people by helping to get them someplace better. 

But we need to be proactive, and we need to work harder to promote our schools this summer than we ever have before. Not every person that needs you is going to seek you out. So seek them out, and share the opportunities you have available.

Promoting financial aid is always well received, but this could be more important than ever right now. Promote federal aid, scholarships, grants—whatever you have, make people aware of it, and make sure they know your financial aid office is ready to make the process as easy as possible. 

I’m not suggesting that you do anything you probably haven’t done before… But I am suggesting that you start now, and that you be more aggressive and proactive than ever before. Yes, enrollments increase when economies decrease. But don’t take that for granted! Not every person that your school can help will seek you out. Many people just need a nudge, and now is the time to start doing some serious nudging!

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