Each year many of America’s three thousand smaller colleges face increasingly difficult challenges in recruiting students. Limited marketing budgets, coupled with – in many cases – limited marketing experience, are drawbacks directly affecting the ability of institutions to attract students. And the turnover in admissions personnel doesn’t help either.

Training, or acquiring experienced admissions counselors is critical. Keeping them on staff is more important. Turnover is a momentum killer, so compensation and recognition programs that keep an effective crew intact are a smart move.

Creating a pipeline of prospective students is the most important element. Too many smaller colleges are faced with this no-win situation. Attracting the right type of prospective enrollee is critical. This challenge is typically addressed by buying more names from the College Board or from one of many lead vendors. This is the old way, and its effectiveness has been diminishing each year. There is, however, a new approach to finding the right kind of program-specific prospective enrollees.  Users have been referring to this new service as “match-dot-com for colleges and students.”

This new online platform is two-sided, one for colleges and one for prospective students. The college site, www.collegeleadexchange.com, allows schools to specify the type of prospective enrollees they want. One of the founders, Joseph Schmoke, says there are no contracts required. “It is like when you find yourself hungry but there’s no food in the cupboard, so you go to the market and buy what you need when you need it.  Same thing for schools; only acquire prequalified leads when you need them.” Many, including Dan Marlow of American Business and Technology University, think this new service will be a game changer.  Schmoke, of course, agrees.