A positive online learning experience for your students begins with the student recruitment process. Online learning is still relatively unknown by most students and parents. The recruitment process provides opportunities to help students and parents understand what is required to be successful.
While marketing may not be a common function in a traditional school, it is absolutely necessary for online learning programs. The first step in student recruitment is making sure potential students are aware of your online learning program.
One of the initial steps in developing your marketing plan is determining who you will be targeting in your marketing efforts. While ultimately your students are your potential customers, they are not the only ones that are involved in making the decision. Parents are key decision makers, especially for younger students, and need to understand how your online learning program operates and what the benefits are.
For some programs, in addition to the student and parent, the local school of the potential students may also be an appropriate recipient of your marketing efforts. Many supplemental and consortia programs require the local schools to sign-up to participate in the online learning program and/or approve individual course enrollment requests. These schools need to understand their role and responsibilities in your online learning program before they can make an informed decision to participate.
The geographic reach of your online learning program as well as the type of your program will also have an impact on your marketing effort. For example if you are a district program, then your efforts will only need to focus on the students and schools in your district while a program that serves the entire state will have a broader audience. In the same manner, a full-time school and a credit recovery program will likely target different students.
Is Online Learning for Me?
Student recruitment is more than a marketing effort that points out all of the potential benefits of your program. You also want to make sure you educate your potential students on what it means to be an online student. Many students falsely assume that all online courses are easy and will require little effort. Students that enter with these perceptions are more likely to be dissatisfied and less likely to be successful. It is better to lose a potential student than have a student sign-up for your program when it is not a good match.
Finding the correct match doesn’t mean that you are only looking for students that have a strong history of previous academic success. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds have shown the ability to be successful in online learning. You simply want to make sure the students, parents, (and local school if appropriate) have a complete and accurate view of what it means to participate in your online learning program.