It’s that time of year again: you’re doing everything in your power to help students who were admitted to your university choose to attend.
Of course, if they were only considering your college or university, it would be easy. You wouldn’t be worried about hitting your quotas, increasing your yield rate or working weekends to attract top students. But most seniors who are accepted into the nation’s premiere schools have a number of acceptances to choose from. And at this point, the ball’s in their court… or is it?
What if there was something more you could do to help admitted students say “yes” to your admissions crew?
We’ve got a novel idea that will help you admit more top students: online networking events. (Click here to tweet this idea.)
If we’re being completely honest though, it wasn’t really our idea, at least not the way it’s being used today. Our university clients are the ones who took the Brazen online networking platform and applied it to courting prospective students. And they stuck with it because it’s working.
What’s an online networking event?
Before we get into why and how these online events can help you attract top students for your incoming class, let’s briefly go over what an online networking event is, so you know where we’re coming from.
Brazen’s platform is the easiest way for two (or more!) parties to connect online, getting to know each other through text-based chatting. It’s the chat room of the future, but with a strategic element: recruiters can pair up with potential employees, alumni with their peers, program coordinators with soon-to-be interns.
During one of our online events, each of these duos chat for, say, five to 10 minutes, before moving onto another event participant they’ve been paired up with. As you can imagine, it’s a great way to get to know someone without having to drive through rush hour to meet them, get stuck in an hour-long conversation with someone who’s not a good fit for your company, or spend half your chat time warming up with awkward ice-breakers. Clients who use the Brazen platform regularly tell us it saves them tons of time and energy, while helping them make the right connections, connections they’d had trouble making elsewhere.
Can you see how this might apply to wooing prospective students? You could pair the students with faculty, admissions staff or even current students, so they can ask questions and get them answered in real time.
Here’s how online events can help you bring top students to your university and increase your yield rate:
1. Answer any and all questions from prospective students
Just because students got an acceptance packet in the mail doesn’t mean all their questions are answered. In fact, most prospective students have a lot of lingering questions about the universities they’re considering. And who better to answer those questions than students and professors who already live and breath campus life and academics?
Questions like, “What’s it really like to live in a dorm?” and “Is campus food any good?” While you can answer inquires like this from your desk in admissions, we all know prospectives would much rather chat to a student — and will likely place more faith in their answers.
Financial aid also tends to be a hot topic when we help universities host online events for prospective students. One option that’s both fun and efficient is offering a number of different booths through your event: one on financial aid, another on campus life, a third on academics, perhaps another on sports… you get the picture. This lets you anticipate what types of questions admitted students might ask and line up the best types of people to answer them.
2. Create a meaningful connection with students, alumni and faculty
While academics and financial aid play a big role in which university admitted students select, we all know what often plays an even bigger role: which school they like the best. Which one gives them the best gut feeling, the feeling that they’ll belong.
It can be difficult to foster that connection when the prospective student is only in touch with the admissions staff, especially if they’re unable to visit campus and experience it in person. But if you allow admitted students to chat honestly and openly with other students and faculty through an online event, you’ve got a shot at reeling them in.
Personal connections create affinity, which is why it’s so important to foster a meaningful connection to the school that could become these students’ home for the next few years. Plus, once admitted students know a few people at your college, they will be more likely to picture themselves there… which means they’re one step closer to saying yes to your offer.
3. Show prospective students how progressive you are with technology
If there’s anything most Millennials love, it’s tech. From iphones to apps to learning how to program, having access to the hottest technology is something every student looks for in a university.
So they will likely be impressed when you use a relatively new tool to communicate, rather than trying to reach them on their land line. Instead of faxing them a brochure, go where they’re already hanging out: online.
This generation not only appreciates and respects when people they collaborate with use modern technology, it’s also where they feel most comfortable. By giving them an option to chat online through text, you’re showing you cater to their preferences, and truly want to make your home their home.
4. Bring in top students in a cost-effective way
Know what’s expensive and time-consuming? Driving to meet with potential students who live outside the state where your university is located, or spending hours finding alumni who are geographically dispersed and can do that for you.
Running an online event means zero time on the road; in fact, you don’t even have to leave your office. You’ll save on travel costs while also being more efficient with your time. All while bringing in top-notch students!
Events also give you the opportunity to scale your efforts. There’s only one of you, but if you can tap into your school’s best resources — your students, faculty and alumni — and work them into a networking event, you’ll fill the ranks of your incoming class in no time.
Your boss will wonder exactly how you’re doing it without overspending your budget… and we all know that a happy boss means a happy you.
Think an online networking event might be right for your university? Request a demo here.
Ginny Manocha is the Director of Accounts and Customer Success at Brazen. Ginny describes herself as curious learner and loves reading about new trends between business, technology, and marketing. Follow her @ginnymanocha or connect on LinkedIn.