In the first blog of this series, we discussed how a visually appealing award letter can encourage students to choose your school as they are considering more than one institution. In this article, we will discuss how changes to your award letter can reduce “lost” award letters and increase enrollment and the opportunity for student financial literacy.
Tip #2: Digital Award Letters for an Online Generation
Where do your students spend most of their time?
If you answered the pizza place, the coffee shop and the mall, you have left out one major place: the Internet. The Millennial student spends hours online each day.
From playing games to social media to watching hours of YouTube videos to occasionally completing research for homework, students live much of their lives online. Their parents aren’t much different. Research shows people of all ages are spending twice as much time online as compared to 10 years ago.
You can reach them while they’re online. We’ve discussed nine must-have resources for a college financial aid website in a previous blog, but most students will not visit such a site until they receive their award letter. So how do you provide them with the information they need in the online format they most often look to?
Enter: digital award letters.
Reach Students and Parents Immediately
Whether you like to think about it or not, your student applicants are considering other schools. Several factors will go into which school they choose, and timeliness is one of them. With tuition and room and board deposits looming, students need to know how much financial aid they can depend on, and they need to know ASAP.
Get to them first with a digital award letter sent directly to their phones. At least 22% of Americans aged 18 to 29 check their smartphone every few minutes, and 51% check it several times an hour. This means from the moment you press send, your award letter could be in front of them in less than 30 minutes.
The early bird gets the enrollment, isn’t that how the saying goes?
Reach Students and Parents in Different Locations
Another benefit of digital award letters is that they can be viewed from anywhere. Suppose the student has parents in two different states or is away from home for the summer. A physical award letter can only be sent to one place. A digital award letter sent via email can be viewed by students and parents simultaneously from different locations, ensuring that all important parties see it with no delay.
Reduce Lost Award Letters
With a digital award letter, you also reduce the number of award letters that are “lost.” Whether they are actually lost in the mail or just misplaced upon arrival, you have no way of knowing whether students have received their paper award letters. Digital award letters can be tracked, and you analyze who has opened them, how fast they’ve opened them, and what actions they take upon opening. This is crucial to determining what is working with award letters, where in the financial aid awarding process students are failing to continue (i.e. costing the school an enrollment), and what you can do to mitigate lost students.
Give Students and Parents What They Want, No Less, No More
It can be overwhelming for a high school graduate to sort through a huge packet of information. Add to that the complexity of said information and the boring, utilitarian design of most award letters, and many students end up skimming or shuffling past important explanations.
How do you balance the desire to give students all relevant information and the fear of overburdening them by sending out a thick stack of papers?
You make it digital, so you can easily link terms from the award letter to helpful resource pages. If a student or parent doesn’t understand a term or statement, they can click or expand it for more information. If they do understand it, they simply keep reading.
Furthermore, video and other interactive content is proven to be more engaging and easier to understand. It’s pretty difficult to put a video in a paper award letter, but it’s easy (and suggested) for your digital award letter.
Simply put, people consume information differently. Students and parents can customize the information they receive in a digital award letter expanding sections or not. This gives them a sense of ownership of their award letter experience, as well as appreciation for your school providing so many helpful resources.
Show Off Your Tech-savvy Side
Lastly, there is the crucial factor of technology. In 2015, it’s no longer an extra benefit for businesses to have a website; it’s a bottom floor expectation. The more presence you have online, the more validity you have in Millennials’ eyes.
Sending a student a paper award letter brings to mind chalkboards and overhead projectors (remember those?). I doubt your campus is still using those in your classrooms, so why are you still sending out the same mundane, paper award letters?
Embrace the technology your students have grown up with. Show them you can offer them not only an excellent education, but one that will release them into the world with a mastery of the technology they will surely be required to use on the job. Don’t let a dusty old award letter process indicate that your university is behind the times. Instead, show off your tech-savvy side and impress your potential students into saying yes to your university.
So you know your department’s award letter should be beautiful (tip #1) and it should be digital, but what should it say? Stay tuned for Tip #3 to find out…
Create an award letter than increases enrollment, helps students borrow more responsibly and improves the student experience with CampusLogic.