3 tactics for growing law school enrollment during (and after) COVID-19

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How to grow law school enrollment during (and after) COVID-19

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The second cycle of the LSAT-Flex.

A pivot to online recruitment.

Law school application and applicant volume running higher than last year by a broad margin.

COVID-19 and an intensely shifting socio-political landscape continue to impact law schools this cycle. As a former law school and graduate enrollment professional, I—like many of you—have not seen this level of volatility in the market since the Great Recession.

As the law school community navigates this unique cycle and prepares for the potential long-term impacts of the pandemic on recruitment, here are a few ways admissions teams can continue to assess, refine, and strengthen their tactics.

Host robust virtual events that (nearly) replace critical in-person gatherings

More than many of the other professional schools I work with, the shift to a virtual environment has arguably most impacted law schools’ recruitment strategies. Although we are all hopeful students will soon be able to attend LSAC’s Law School Forums and other recruitment events in person, law school admissions teams will of course need to continue to refine and master virtual events to succeed this year and beyond. As we head into the second cycle in which virtual events have been critical, here are a few strategies law schools are using to make the most of their virtual events:

Tips for hosting a successful virtual recruitment event

  • Designate an event manager responsible for logistics and use a dry run to iron out potential technical difficulties ahead of time
  • Use multi-modal content such as videos to engage different types of learners throughout your event
  • Offer breakout sessions for students to ask questions and network with one another and faculty
  • Intersperse polls to learn more about your prospective students—and make your event more interactive
  • Point to actions audience should take after the event, such as connect with a faculty member or apply

And then, of course, there is recruiting for virtual events. The law schools we work with have had success deploying customized communications about their upcoming events to prospective students from a variety of sources, including students targeted on LinkedIn and Facebook, LSAT takers, application starters, and their own inquiry pool.

Once a prospective student attends your (engaging and interactive) virtual event, ensure they receive customized event follow-up. For example, you might survey event attendees to learn more about their interests and goals when it comes to their legal education and eventually, their career. You can then use the information prospects share to further tailor your marketing. At every stage of students’ journey to law school, our Law School Enrollment Services team has found personalized communication based on student intent resonates most with students and drives students towards enrollment.

“Our partnership with EAB over the last four years has been terrific. Their knowledge and expertise have enabled us to not only increase our applicant pool substantially, but also to tailor our message to specific segments of that pool. With this thoughtful and targeted approach, we’ve been able hit our enrollment goals while simultaneously improving our LSAT and GPA medians each year. It’s reassuring to know that with all the changes going on, in higher ed and the world, that our message is reaching our future students.”

Robert Harrison, Esq.

Associate Dean for Enrollment Management at Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

Showcase your school’s differentiators with a virtual tour

Your virtual tour can highlight notable campus spaces and program features such as your Moot Courtroom, career and internship opportunities, academic support services, noteworthy alumni (even better if we can highlight their place of work!), your local community, and other key differentiators. Use your virtual tour to show how students will receive a return on their education by attending your law school and why it’s a good fit for them.

Not all virtual tours are created equal, and today’s prospects expect virtual tours to go beyond static videos of your campus. The more interactive your virtual tour, the better. Consider embedding inquiry forms throughout your virtual tour to create multiple opportunities to further engage students and capture leads. And where possible, integrate student and faculty testimonials to help bring your school’s value proposition to life. An interactive virtual tour will ensure prospective students spend more time on the tour itself and on learning about your institution.

Explore a sample law school virtual tour

Continue to analyze your virtual tour’s performance and find ways to make it more interactive. For example, are prospects experiencing the tour stops you’d most like them to see? Is there an opportunity to embed new opportunities or news coming out of your law school within the tour?

Minimize uncertainty during the yield process

As we all know, the rollercoaster of emotions during the latter stage of the cycle can be full of elation and anxiety. So I wasn’t surprised when, in a recent webinar, I asked law school admissions leaders to share their most pressing challenge, and about half identified “uncertainty around yield” – in fact, I thought it would be a higher percentage. In my experience, it was often difficult to get real-time intelligence about student intent that would be most helpful to increase yield.

Our team at EAB cracked that code. As my colleague Jennie Bailey described, the student surveys we develop and deploy to learn more about admitted students’ intent to enroll typically receive a 75 to 85% response rate thanks to the highly personalized nature of these surveys and communications throughout their evaluation process. I was a skeptic when I first learned about this survey technique. But based on the results and the strength of the findings these surveys have generated for law admissions teams, it’s now one of the tools that I suggest when helping admissions teams better forecast their class size and make up.

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to 85% response rate to personalized student surveys

Admitted student surveys also allow your admissions staff to identify students still on the fence about enrolling—and for whom additional information about your school or financial aid offer might just nudge them towards enrollment. And while surveyed students who indicate they do not plan to enroll at your institution rarely change their mind, those students often share valuable information about the institution they will be attending instead—and why they ultimately chose your competitor.

Although we’ll one day be welcoming students to events and to campus tours in-person, I suspect the accessibility of the virtual format will mean some form of online recruitment will persist beyond the pandemic’s end. And with this disruption comes great opportunity. I’m excited to see how admissions leaders continue to innovateand how we can continue to support those innovations.

Ready to find out more?

Learn more about emerging market trends and how EAB is helping law schools increase engagement, boost applications, and improve yield rates.

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