What to do when fall travel is “off the table”

Traditional student recruitment has seemingly always been reliant on two key legacy strategies. 

  1. List buys from testing and survey companies to fuel prospect pools. 
  2. Travel to meet directly with prospective students, families, and counselors to raise awareness and affinity for the institution.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic it is clear that traditional recruitment tactics, particularly travel, will not be the same this fall or next spring (at the soonest). This means traditional face-to-face programs are off the table.

What are we solving for?

Traditional fall travel boils down to a combination of a handful of key initiatives that include: 

  • High school visits
  • College fairs
  • Coffee shop interviews/meetings
  • Regional recruitment events
  • Campus visits like tours and open houses

The challenge for enrollment managers and admissions counselors is figuring out the most efficient and meaningful way to replace these initiatives to best support students, while also not burning out their staff. There is a pressure to “do everything,” which will lead to negative results.

How do I replace the high school visit?

A typical day of an admissions “roadrunner” is pretty simple. Each day, visit 3-5 high schools and present to interested students in the guidance office or during (the oftentimes dreaded) lunch visits. In the evening, represent the institution at a college fair or meet with prospects one-on-one for interviews at coffee shops.

If one were to replicate this experience online it would boil down to a series of back-to-back zoom meetings with high school students at all the high schools you would have otherwise visited in a single day, followed by a virtual fair in the evening. And, without the need to drive between high schools and take breaks at Starbucks or Panera Bread (or naps in the parking lot … we see you). You should be able to double the number of presentations, right? 


For most admissions counselors, the questions received at individual high school visits are predominantly the same. It’s just the audience that changes,not the content. Additionally, a traditional high school visit is hard to predict. Sometimes a counselor meets with a large group. Other times it’s a single student. And of course, the worst case scenario is when no students sign uppaired with a busy counselor who doesn’t have time to do anything more than take materials and file them away.

By doubling the amount of presentations all you are doing is doubling the amount of times your staff needs to be “webcam ready” for a very unpredictable outcome. This will lead to rapid burn out by your staff. 

Digital solutions for your fall recruitment strategy must help your institution scale admissions content in order to reach a wider audience while also significantly saving time and travel resources.

How do I use Conduit to offset the loss of high school visits?

While Conduit is great for hosting large scale live events, it’s also a great solution for repurposing pre-recorded content while creating a live experience for your audience … we call that “Simulive”.

Leveraging Simulive, your counseling team can record the presentation they would typically present to students at a high school visit. They can focus on making it the best presentation possible and ensure they hit the key points. This presentation can then be scheduled to play at specific dates and times throughout the fall. Rather than presenting live, your admissions staff would simply staff a live chat to answer specific questions students may have outside of the presentation content. Because the presentation is scheduled at specific dates and times it gives the audience the feeling of a live event … particularly with a well-done presentation that encourages the use of Campus Connect, our chat tool.

Use tools like Hobsons Intersect, email, SMS and targeted digital media to invite your prospective students to these information sessions throughout the cycle. Additionally, rather than continuing traditional visits deep into the fall when awareness building needs to transition to conversion; you can develop more focused content on application completion, financial aid, parent, and counselor-focused sessions instead. 

Don’t Miss Out

We’ve assembled a leadership panel from a wide array of institutions to continue this conversation and dive deeper into other strategies and tactics that will help transform your recruitment efforts.

Join us on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at 2 PM ET for
“Farewell, Fall Travel?”
An Executive Leadership Forum Discussing the Potential Realities of
Travel Being “Off The Table” This Fall

Click here to register