In the enrollment world, we all plan ahead and go out like gangbusters every fall with the goal of generating applications from our inquiry pools and from new students we meet during fall travel. But, as every seasoned admissions professional knows, building a class is never a sprint—slow and steady wins the race.

While we all know to complement our fall application-driving activities with spring efforts focused around yield, robust mid-cycle application generation activities often fall off our radar. However, deploying supplemental efforts to attract new applications from students who are just starting to focus on the college selection process later in the year can yield incredible returns. (Remember, as the last two years have taught us, plans change and many students find themselves exploring other options throughout the spring semester of their senior year. It’s worth it to be ready to cater to them.)

A robust supplemental search campaign can not only provide a boost in applications, but these efforts will help you meet some students where they are. Even though it feels “late” to those of us in the admissions world, it’s just right for the recipients of a senior spring mailing. In fact, a January 2021 survey of then-current high school seniors found that 46% of students said they were still planning to apply to colleges or had not started their application process at that point.


Of students from across our partner institutions’ Fall 2021 classes applied after February 1


Higher yield rate for those students who applied after February 1, as compared to students who applied earlier

Five app-boosting micro strategies

Spark451 has successfully partnered with several colleges and universities to implement a combination of five successful micro search strategies that you can deploy later in the cycle to maximize engagement.

1. Enhance your data pool with Parent Append

Adding purposeful data, including parent email addresses, will enable you to boost your communication efforts and deliver relevant messaging for the family before their student applies.

2. Engage your pool in new ways

It is not uncommon for someone to “inquire” as a sophomore and all but forget about you by the time they’re ready to start applying, but they may be the perfect candidate during the spring of their senior year. Re-engaging your pool with short, engaging surveys about their interests, goals, or even their status in the search process can help get a better sense of where they are in their journey with your institution.

3. Deploy timely personalized content

A new campaign centered around where students are in the process can quickly build brand awareness and generate new applications. Be clear and concise with your messaging and calls-to-action.

4. Get to the point, with substance

Get in front of students and parents with a spring printed mailing that has an inspiring, timely, supportive message and a direct offer to engage with someone at your school. With less #collegemail clutter to compete with at this point in the cycle, your message can focus less on color and more on content.

5. Meet students where they are (online)

A digital marketing campaign is a great complementary way to reach students and parents with the right message at the right time. Timely messages about application incentives or deadlines help inspire urgency and drive action as critical deadlines approach.

Real Results: Micro Search Strategies In Action

Spark451 partnered with several institutions for supplemental student search later in the traditional cycle for Fall 2021 recruitment. By implementing the right recipe of micro search tactics, we saw great results.

For example, a small private college in PA gained over 75 new applications late in the cycle with an application completion rate of over 90%. Similarly, a community college in New York state deployed a targeted application print campaign and gained 50+ new enrolling students at a yield rate of more than 80%.


We’d love to help you implement any or all of the five strategies we’ve outlined above, as it is never too late to have an impact. At the same time, we have many other solutions that can be implemented during this cycle—specifically, our personalized financial aid package, a great yield boost. Reach out when you’re ready to discuss strategies and tactics we can implement to support your enrollment goals.