Mapping the Student Journey: The Ultimate Guide for Education Providers

Claudia Reiners
April 22, 2021

Mapping the Student Journey: The Ultimate Guide for Education Providers

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Lead generation, student enrolment and retention lay the foundations for a strong student journey. But how do these pieces fit together?

We’ve previously explored each phase in more detail, but this hub will act as the go-to tool for education providers. Our student journey hub provides all the information, tips and resources providers need to optimise their student experience.

What is the student journey?

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The student journey is the sequence of interactions a student experiences throughout their relationship with an education provider. It begins from the first time they hear about the brand to enrolling and completing their studies and re-engaging as a lifelong alumnus. 

It’s a valuable tool for those in the education sector. The journey enables educators to understand their student audience, identify any pain points, and uncover improvement opportunities.

The student journey comprises of three main components:

1.     Lead generation
2.    Student enrolment
3.    Student retention

Lead generation

The lead generation component relies on student-centric marketing activities. These activities target relevant student groups and create engaging online and offline recruitment experiences.

This stage includes three stages:

  • Research and discovery

    During this stage, potential students become aware of your institution and begin their preliminary research. Your business case, value propositions and key differentiators are critical here. Students must have the opportunity to quickly identify what makes your course unique and, at a glance, understand why they should enrol with your institution.

  • Evaluation

    Once they have conducted their research, students will begin to shortlist education institutions and programs for consideration. They will turn to friends and family for referrals and recommendations to help narrow down their choices. In this stage, students will also assess their finances and government funding options.

  • Application

    Once a potential student has shortlisted their education options, they’ll begin their expressions of interest. This includes submitting an initial application to one or more institutions.

While students discover and evaluate their education sources, there are opportunities for providers to get ahead of competitors and remain attractive to prospective students. 

Explore our resources:

Sales and Marketing Health Check – How Do You Shape Up?

Today’s education providers must know how to get students through the front door and best optimise their sales teams to increase enrolments.

5 Steps to Take Your RTO Marketing Strategy to the Next Level

It takes more than an epic course offering to get students through the door. Providers must continually optimise their marketing strategy to ensure they’re front of mind for prospective students.

Student enrolment

The enrolment component flows on from the lead generation phase. In this period, it’s critical for providers to make the transition from recruitment to enrolment as seamless as possible. 

  • Enrolment

    Once an expression of interest or application is submitted, students eagerly await responses. We’ve found that students who receive replies from sales advisors promptly are more likely to enrol with that institution.

  • Onboarding

    Once enrolled, students begin their transition into full-time or part-time study. Most students will find their first months of study overwhelming – they are most likely to drop out in the first six months. Strong student support is essential to ensure students continue their program of study.

Explore our resources:

How to Optimise Your Post-Enquiry Process for Success

Setting up an effective post-enquiry contact strategy and nurture program is crucial to streamlining workflow and increasing enrolments.

Email Marketing for the Student Journey

When it comes to maximising your enrolments, understanding how to interact with prospective students is essential.

Student retention

Retention is an issue for many education providers. With advancing technologies and dwindling attention span, students are demanding more unique experiences from education providers.

 In addition to this, students may find themselves overwhelmed by their program load and the volume of assignments – increasing their likelihood of dropping out of study.

It’s vital for providers to create an engaging and interactive learning experience in this stage, which carries through to graduation and post-study.

There are two key stages within student retention:

  • Student experience

    The student learning experience can make or break student retention. Students who engage with their cohort, academic staff and institution are more likely to continue studying through to graduation. To do this, students will seek counselling support, financial aid, and opportunities to join student initiatives to build motivation and strengthen their sense of belonging.

  • Alumni engagement

    Once a student graduates, their relationship with a provider doesn’t end. Students who have had a positive experience with an institution can quickly become a provider’s biggest advocate. Alumni engagement can build brand and reputation, increase postgraduate enrolments and facilitate industry collaboration, such as work-based learning and industry projects.

Explore our resource:

Student Retention for VET Providers: 6 Strategies to Improve Completion Rates

Over 40% of students never complete their courses. Education providers must apply student-centric retention solutions to increase engagement and reduce non-completion rates.

Why do education providers need the student journey?

The student journey tracks every step a student takes before, during and after enrolling in a training program. It provides valuable insight into the behaviours and needs of prospecting, existing and graduated students at every stage of their education journey. These insights help:

  • Align marketing and sales departments.
  • Build brand and reputation.
  • Increase student enrolment.
  • Improve program completion rate.

Why the student journey matters in our education sector

Enrolment and retention have been the subjects of many debates, both internationally and locally. In Australia, education and training institutions are facing a common set of challenges in the 21st century, such as:

  • Rising technological expectations from students
  • Increased local and global competition for students
  • High non-completion rates

Now more than ever, improving student enrolment and retention should be a priority for our education sector. With immediate skills shortage and economic volatility due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the acceleration of Industry 4.0, we must continue to educate and train tomorrow’s workforce.

The student journey enables departments to adopt a holistic approach to the student experience. It ensures every interaction with a student, from applicant to alumnus, is tailored and valuable to the individual. In today’s competitive education landscape, the ability to do all is critical for providers wanting to stand out from the crowd.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy
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