I encourage you to set aside an hour and a half for this TeensTalkLive student panel on university recruitment activities, presented by Higher Ed Live – You’ll see what students liked/didn’t like about how universities reached out to them, what sold them/turned them away, and what their best and worst experiences were. You’ll find some pretty insightful takeaways from this discussion.
My main takeaways:
- Students don’t read viewbooks for content, they skim the pictures and headings, read ‘fast facts’. If they can’t find something on the website, they turn to the viewbook.
- They don’t want to see artistic, gorgeous photos in viewbooks of buildings and prominent spots on campus. They want to see where they can hang out, eat, etc. They’re concerned with ‘real campus life’.
- They dislike staged photos of students, they want to see more candid photos displaying ‘school spirit’.
- They want to see diversity, they look for themselves in those photos (athletes, culturally-speaking, etc.).
- They want a list of majors, not so concerned with admissions info in a viewbook, website is for that.
- Students aren’t interested and throw most away.
- It’s generally not personal enough, makes students feel like a ‘number’.
- “We’re always on our computers if you haven’t noticed”.
- Students want personal communications from current students. They feel comfortable asking current students questions and getting ‘real’ answers. Emails from current students are welcomed.
- They don’t want to receive text/FB messages from prospective schools, only from schools where they’ve been admitted.
- They want personal communication from academic advisors, whether that’s a phone call to say I’ve sent your admissions package and I’m really excited for you or a long email follow-up from a current student addressing each of their questions.
- They want quick responses and were impressed with universities that were quick to get back to them with emails, etc., they feel important.
- Students want to connect to current students on university Facebook pages, not so much with admissions counsellors.
- If you want to contact an admitted student, send a text or FB message, they may check email once a week, Facebook about ten times a day.
- They read other students questions on Facebook pages “I have trouble coming up with my own questions so I look up the university Facebook page to see what other students are asking”.
- Important to have separate tabs for prospective students, current students, grad students, they don’t want to search for info or worry they’re reading the wrong thing.
- They want a search box for specific questions, faster than looking for information.
Booths at college fairs
- “Come and talk to me, don’t stand behind a desk, you need to be energetic”.
- Want to see students at the booth as well as advisors. Ask students more personal questions about the university and advisors more specific admission questions.
Parental influence + campus tours
- Parents need to feel good about the school after a campus tour. It’s big factor in whether students apply/accept. Parents aren’t impressed when their questions aren’t answered well.
- It’s preferred to have campus tours where parents and students are divided at the beginning. Parents go to specific seminars, have their questions answered and have more of a chance at being sold on the school.
- Students like to see school pride in action, students wearing the university branding and mascot clothing and like that repeated through other university communication pieces.
- The campus visit makes or breaks the student’s interest. “Make sure your people are good.” In-person experience is most important.
“Invest more money into travel, get recruiters to our schools, bring your school to us”
Students on this panel don’t seem concerned with academic details at this point in the decision-making process and most probably already considered that when drilling down their top university list. It’s now about the “gut feeling”, “campus atmosphere” and “can I see myself on campus?”
Recruiters and student ambassadors play the biggest role in sealing the deal. It’s all about personalising the experience, this is the “me” generation after all.