Legacy Leveraging: 4 Things You Can Do to Recruit Children and Siblings of Your Alumni

Contributor: Dr. Kyle Brantley

Date: June 29, 2021

What is a legacy student? This is someone who has a close familial connection to a college or university, typically a parent or sibling. The college name is likely familiar to the prospective student based on this connection. Think built-in “brand awareness.”

Legacy admissions and recruitment have different meanings depending on your institutional type. For selective schools, legacy may increase a student’s odds of admission (this has been under scrutiny in the last few years).

For smaller, private institutions who have more open admission systems, legacy students can be a high-potential pool of prospective students. These students will likely have an increased awareness of your school and, ideally, have heard good things from their parents and/or siblings who previously attended. Either way, legacies are a pool of students primed for recruitment.

Below are four ways to keep the college name in the family by targeting prospective legacy students.

  1. Partner with Alumni Affairs
  2. In order to proactively pursue legacies, you need to know who these prospects are. A strong partnership with your Alumni Office will be helpful as you’ll need access to their alumni database. Just be aware: keeping an alumni database up to date is challenging and not all schools do this well. Start here though and use what data that is available.

  3. Identify Legacies
  4. Run your alumni addresses through your name buys and inquiry pool on a regular basis. Identify legacy students and tag or code them as such in your CRM. For name buys, proactively import legacy matches into your inquiry pool so they can receive at least your standard inquiry comm flow series as opposed to waiting on them to take action.

  5. Create Legacy Communication Plans
  6. Create special tracks for legacy students, showing them special attention. This can be any combination of emails, physical mailers, phone calls, or texts. You can single them out as legacies in your messaging, or just show them extra attention as students with a much higher likelihood to enroll. A few other ideas include: waiving their application fee, establishing legacy visit days or events, requesting faculty reach out to them, and so on.

  7. Offer Legacy Scholarships
  8. If you really want to entice legacy students, you can offer them legacy scholarships. You can do as little or as much as you think is effective here, but the incentive may attract students that otherwise may be considering other options. Plus, it’s a great way to show appreciation and investment in your alumni population by offering scholarships to family members.

The bottom line is legacy students have a unique brand awareness about your institution that should be given special priority. This population is also more likely to be a better mission fit for your institution and more likely to retain. The more precisely you can identify legacies and design systems to attract and enroll them, the better for your institution for generations to come.