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Putting Yourself in Your Students’ Shoes: How to Yield More Students with Empathy

The ability to connect on a human level and understand the aspirations, anxieties, and needs of prospective students has become paramount for players in higher education admissions. 

In this competitive landscape where universities vie for the attention and enrollment of prospective students, empathy emerges as a potent yet often underutilized tool in crafting impactful marketing messaging. Far beyond mere persuasion, empathy in marketing transcends conventional strategies by genuinely understanding and addressing the hopes, fears, and aspirations of prospective students. 

Think about it. Instead of flooding your admitted students’ inboxes with impersonal, transactional requests to confirm their enrollment, try asking them how you can help them reach their decision. First, find out what it is that’s holding them back or causing them anxiety and let them know that you understand (i.e. “we get it, college is expensive”). Then, offer solutions or information that can help them work through it (“…but here’s how you can afford it.”). 

Want to give it a try? Here’s how you can use empathy in your yield campaigns to enroll more students:

Use empathetic language in your messaging

Avoid the soulless, transactional messaging that makes students feel like just another number towards your enrollment goal. By infusing empathetic language into your communications, you show students that you care about them and they’re not just a means to an end. Some examples include:

  • “When you’re ready…” 
  • “We understand.”
  • “Take your time, you have a lot to consider.”
  • “We’re here to help.”
  • “You don’t have to make this decision alone.”
  • “How can we help you reach your decision?”
  • “We want to help you make the right decision for you.”


Find out what’s holding them back, then offer support 

At the yield stage, students are considering their options, calculating tuition costs, and trying to decide where they’ll spend the next four years — it’s a lot of pressure! A simple show of empathy at this stage can be the difference between a student who chooses a different path and one that enrolls at your university. 

At Waybetter, we create messaging based on two-way dialogue with admitted students who have yet to make their choice. We ask them what’s holding them back from enrolling and provide them with personalized information that can help them work through their options.

If they’re unsure about affordability, we remind them about specific scholarships and financial aid that is available to them. If they need more clarity about career preparation, we share statistics about graduate outcomes and alumni success stories. The more personalized and less transactional you are, the better your chance of landing these students in your incoming class.


Give students enough time to get things done

The enrollment journey is a function of time, and students face different pressures as time passes. By giving them ample time to get things done, we can help alleviate their time-driven anxiety.

By sending them consistent reminders to complete actions like applying, scheduling a visit, or submitting their enrollment deposit, they know that you’re paying attention to where they are in their student journey and are there to offer your support.

In addition to campaign messages, you should also optimize your student portal content. Include dynamic content like important dates and deadlines and CTAs to keep students on track and returning to their portal frequently. 


Of course, you don’t want these nudges to be pushy or transactional, but you also can’t nudge just once and expect that to be enough. Empathetic persistence ensures that you’ll be present in a student’s inbox when they’re finally ready to take action.


Work with the team that knows how to meet students right where they are. Get in touch with Waybetter!

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