Who are you really targeting with your admissions marketing? Parents may have the final financial decision, but student engagement is critical. Ultimately, the student’s experience at your school will prove to be your school’s greatest selling point.
Simply put, current students tell a story admissions officers cannot.
There are three types of students to target this summer: current students; incoming students; and prospective students. While many of the opportunities for engagement can be overlapped, using your current students will ultimately be a great selling point for new or interested students.
This summer offers a unique opportunity for this. Due to COVID-19, many high school students may have had summer plans cancelled or are searching for summer opportunities. Getting them involved with their school’s admissions programs is a perfect way for your students to make the most of their summer. It’s a resume booster to show for college and a way for students to highlight their experience helping with summer admissions marketing initiatives.
There are endless opportunities to engage current students in your school’s summer admissions marketing programs.
Recruit summer student ambassadors by reaching out to individuals, including your tour guides or student hosts, student leaders or groups of students. Ask administrators and department heads for recommendations to expand your pool of student leaders.
Create opportunities for student-run club events through virtual club meet ups or encouraging the start-up of a social media page. Have students host summer club meetings over Zoom or Google Hangouts and invite incoming students. It’s a great way to give new students a sneak peek into the school year and organize a mini club fair. Follow up with an email linking to your website page of all student-run organizations and the contact information of the current students who ran the virtual club meeting.
Include student leaders’ voices in your social media pages. Having selected student leaders from a variety of positions and interests (clubs, arts, sports, etc.) “take over” your school’s Instagram with images and short student biographies is smart. You might not have put a lot of thought into maintaining a social media presence while school is out of session, but social media is a great tool to meet students where they are.
Students can use social media takeovers to do “a day in the life,” talk about their school experience or show off cool talents. Curious prospective students can ask questions and get answers from an actual student. If you save the content produced from these takeovers, you can upload them onto YouTube for future access. Even simple Twitter or Facebook posts highlighting a student’s achievements or showcasing their work can make your current students feel involved and encourage new students to apply.
Depending on your school’s policy and personnel bandwidth, consider allowing a student group to create its own social media account, monitored by the school. Or handpick a few students to create your school’s TikTok account. This ensures an authentic student voice. Prospective students will know right away what is and isn’t run by students.
Be clear about guidelines and give general messaging tips to the student social media administrator (and be sure that you have the account password). Consider, too, if you have the bandwidth to keep the accounts active. Don’t create an account for athletics, for example, if you can’t keep it vibrant and active. An inactive account sends a message you don’t want to send!
Host a Netflix Party using the Netflix Party Google Chrome extension. This tool allows for multiple people to watch Netflix in-real-time at the same time. Even better, you can chat with each other on the platform as well. Simply download the extension, and you’re set to have the ultimate virtual Netflix experience.
There’s a lot going on in our world right now, and students likely want to talk about it or learn more about these topics. The Netflix Party extension can allow for faculty members to host a movie or series viewing with students and engage in thoughtful conversations at the same time.
Here are some educational movie suggestions to spark conversations and inspire the next generation:
- “What The Health”
- “Explained Series”
Start a student-led video call initiative using students as the host for leading discussions with incoming and prospective students. Hearing the student perspective can truly impact prospective students on their ability to envision themselves in your school’s setting.
This is particularly useful if your school has a feeder school: Ask one of your current students who attended the feeder school to host a call for its students. This will give students a safe space as they’ll likely see a familiar face from your own student, and other students in their class will also be attending the event with them.
Above all, schools want to make sure their students are staying healthy and safe this summer. It’s good to encourage hangout opportunities sponsored by your school right now, since so much of the typical spring time school events were cancelled or postponed.
Tips for getting the best from your student ambassadors:
- Be clear upfront about expectations and content guidelines, but let your students shine as your ambassadors.
- Set up regular check-in Zoom calls with your ambassadors so they feel connected and engaged as an integral part of your team.
- When you promote these activities on your website and in the email invitation with the Zoom link, include the student hosts’ photos and short bio about what they do at your school. Maybe include something fun, like the student’s favorite food served by your dining hall or how the student best embodies your school mascot.
- A hand-written thank-you from the Head of School and division head to the student for his or her leadership goes a long way — as does some cool school swag.
Using a hands-off approach from school administrators and focusing on engaging students in ways they can learn, but also have fun, will reactivate student’s passions to be involved in your school’s community.
Need more help attracting prospective students? Contact us.
Assisting Kalix as a Marketing Intern, Channing Capacchione is a senior studying Advertising and Sociology at Boston University where she works as a Student Admissions Representative at Boston University Admissions Center. In addition to giving tours and presentations to prospective families, Channing has interned with the Boston University Marketing department designing flyers and handouts, writing copy and aiding with website development. Prior to Boston University, Channing attended Garrison Forest School, an all-girls private school located in Owings Mills, Maryland. Her 14 years at Garrison provided her with the opportunity during high school to gain knowledge and experience working with the admissions and the communications department.
Check out Channing’s other blog posts: