4 min read
The Art & Science of Engineering a Great Campus Visit Experience
By: Jay Fedje
It’s no secret that campus visits are a prime opportunity for you to make a lasting impression. But what are the secrets to making that lasting impression? What helps your school stand out in this all-important single encounter? What is the ideal campus visit experience?
Beginning in a student’s junior year of high school (sometimes sophomore year), their mailboxes and inboxes are inundated with invitations from colleges and universities. “Come see our campus!” “Come meet our counselors and professors!” It’s a lot, which means this is where your work to create a lasting impression begins.
While virtual campus visits became popular during the height of the COVID pandemic, there’s something about the physical presence on campus that doesn’t translate through emails, phone calls, pictures, or 360 tours. There’s a vibe and a cadence that comes from being there.
So, what vibe is your school putting out? Is it the right vibe to represent what life will be like for the visitor if they choose to enroll there? enrollmentFUEL’s REV Learning Series, “Engineering A Great Campus Visit Experience” training course, launching on August 1, 2022, will take you through the ins and outs of every aspect that goes into creating your school’s campus vibe during a prospective student’s visit (register today!).
You’re Not Just Appealing to the Students
A huge portion of prospective students will bring parents or other family members to an in-person campus visit. Family often provides additional insight in considering a school, because they may have different priorities than the student. Parents like to be on top of coordinating travel, accommodations, and logistics—and in most cases, finances. Oftentimes parents and guardians are the primary funders for college, which means it’s important to let them know their student will be receiving a top-notch education and experience.
Be Prepared for ‘That Mom’
It’s very likely that the parent or guardian will have more questions than the student. Of course, right? They’ve watched their student grow into a young adult and now they are preparing to leave the nest. Everything needs to be perfect. Their questions will be specific and they will be scrutinizing your response. So, be sure that your admission counselors and tour guides are prepared with an arsenal of thorough answers for not just the prospective students, but also their parents and families.
Responses should also allude to unique aspects of your school that may align with any known interests of the prospective student and their family. And remember, you may not always have all the answers. But that’s okay! Admission Counselors and tour guides should project confidence as subject-matter experts when it comes to the school, and will know where to find answers. There’s nothing wrong with telling a parent you don’t know the answer, but that you will find out. Just remember to follow up!
Make It About the Student
While “freshman freedom” is a key element to venturing out to college, it’s no longer the general priority of prospective students. Let’s face it: kids are older than they used to be! High school graduates are already focused on what their future holds and how they’re going to achieve their goals. They’re ready to get down to brass tacks and hear what majors and minors you have available. A recent focus group study from enrollmentFUEL showed that students want colleges and universities to focus less on selling the experience and more on selling the education.
Face Time with Faculty
Students are more likely to raise their hand to meet with a coach than a faculty member while on campus, but meeting with a willing and engaging professor can become a pivotal moment for prospective students during the decision-making process. Developing an early relationship with a member of the faculty can also make a lasting and positive impact when it comes to retaining that student long after they make the decision to enroll.
Sealing the Deal
We could write a hundred blog posts on the various aspects that go into creating a successful campus visit experience that yields commitment, and odds are likely that they would all say some version of this: make it personal and be transparent!
Keep It Real
Keeping your messaging concise and accurate from the first message in their inbox to the day that student graduates from your school is one of the most commonly glossed over yet most important recruitment and retention aids within your control. The last thing you want is a student who creates a vision of your college from the materials they receive, only to find their vision is not at all representative of their actual experience.
So, how do you avoid telling a story that does not match the reality? A good place to start is preparing current students to offer their testimony to campus visitors. No one will tell your real story better! Another tip for authenticity is to remember not to bend the truth or withhold information; you’re not a car salesman and they’re not buying a car. But they are expecting to buy a life-impacting experience. This decision shapes the rest of their life. Be honest AND positive. It’s possible.
Explore ways to make this easy for your team. REV’s “Engineering A Great Campus Visit Experience” training course, taking place August 1 - 31, 2022, is a great place for you to start. You will learn how to create a campus visit experience that accentuates your university’s unique perks. Registration is open now!
Gearing up for a successful campus visit can be daunting when you consider how every aspect of the tour plays an integral role in a prospective student’s final decision. Remember, you have the power to make an excellent lasting impression.
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