Reengaging Prospective Students Who Haven’t Enrolled

Posted: August 2, 2023

Joy George Proofreader

We’ll admit: it’s hard to reengage prospective students who have been accepted but haven’t enrolled yet. You’ve got to make yourself stand out and entice them to enroll at your institution, even as numerous other colleges are inundating them with the same goals and messages.

So how do you keep these students engaged and show them that you’re hopeful they’ll choose your school as their home for the next little while?

At VisionPoint, our CRM strategists say personalization of information is the key. And while many students may know that personalization is automated and not done individually, that little touch goes a long way to encouraging them to open an email, read a text, or look at their portal. 

Additionally, it may not be as common as we may think for schools to leverage personalized, custom communications. According to Niche, “more than two-thirds of students have said that they are influenced to consider a college by personalized and relevant information, but only 9% said that they are receiving it from colleges.” 

We’re going to talk through a few ways to personalize your communication and give you a checklist of where you can start!

How can you keep prospective students engaged? We’re going to talk through a few ways!


So, how do you personalize emails beyond having students’ names in them? By leveraging the information you know to change the information going to each student. This will include using data fields, potentially having separated audience segments, and having custom content prepared for each potential population. 

For example, if you’re using the Slate CRM, you can use content blocks to build some of this custom content. Content blocks allow for a field value to control which block of information gets merged into a message. This means you can use your “major” field value to insert a paragraph of text specific to that person’s program.

The more information you gather from prospective students, the easier it is to personalize their emails based on content blocks. That doesn’t mean if you don’t have information, you can’t send personalized emails, though. You should always have a default content block or message for those you lack information about.

And while you may want to send one email to the entire list of admitted, not enrolled undergrad students, content blocks and other similar CRM features allow the information within each email to change based on majors, interests, or any other segment you want to use.

Content blocks allow for a field value to control which block of information gets merged into a message.


Another way to personalize information is simply through the use of merge fields. Most CRM’s with an automated communication feature allow for data to be merged into messages. By using just a person’s name and potential major, we can change “Apply today!” to “Danielle, apply to join the biology program today!” Which call-to-action sounds more engaging?

Many automated marketing tools also offer the ability to conditionally display certain text based on a data point within the system. For example, including a link to a survey or form just for students who have not yet completed it. Or perhaps including a link to register for an event for only students that have yet to register. In the Slate CRM, this can be accomplished using “liquid markup”; however, systems like Mailchimp have their “conditional merge tags,” Pardot has “conditional merge fields,” and Element451 has “tokens” and “content blocks.” 

Many automated marketing tools offer the ability to conditionally display certain text based on a data point.

But if all of that feels overwhelming, you can start smaller. Even minor changes can go a long way to make you stand out from the crowd. Start with this personalization to-do checklist!

Personalization To-Do Checklist

  • Revisit the subject lines of your email sequences. Can you add the student’s name or prospective major? That may prompt them to open the email. 
  • Can you change who the sender is? While sending from the institution’s name may be recognizable, a person’s name may seem more personal.
  • Be sure to use deadline-based communication. Let prospective students know when they need to make decisions and enroll to get their classes. Creating urgency helps engage students.
  • Ensure you set up student portals or microsites with the student’s name, major, and current information. Include a countdown to their first day on campus to keep the energy up!
  • Change the imagery in the portal or microsite. If students are accepted, use basic campus imagery but add confetti. Once they enroll, change to a cute shot of a mascot high-fiving a student and add some balloons.
  • Send a survey to those who haven’t enrolled yet. Something along the lines of “Hey! We noticed you haven’t enrolled yet even though you’ve been accepted. What are you thinking?” Give them a few options: “I’m enrolling,” ”I’m interested, but…”, “No, I don’t think I’m going to enroll.” With that information, you can focus on those who are unsure. What can you do to help them with the decision? Is there a unique email sequence for those who fill out the survey and are still unsure?


One final way to create some excitement is to provide incentives. Consider a giveaway of college swag if students post a picture of themselves with their acceptance letters using a specific hashtag. You can then share those photos, creating more buzz to reengage students.

The key is to work on personalizing communication. Your goal is to get prospective students to enroll, and personalization is a significant first step to making that happen.

Interested in learning more about what your CRM can do to reengage students? At VisionPoint, our CRM strategists work hard to help you make the most of your CRM. Email or fill out the form below to receive a free CRM audit (yes, free).

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