Campus visit data can be powerful. Here’s how to identify the data you really need and how to collect it.
By: Rohan Thakkar
No institution will ever tell you they have a shortage of data.
The real challenge is confirming you have the right data to glean insights and drive meaningful change.
Campus tour offerings are the perfect example of this. Over the past two years, institutions have been pushed to rethink and expand their tours beyond in-person visits. Many had to quickly stand up virtual offerings such as Zoom tours, virtual maps, social media takeovers, and other options. Most commonly we see institutions employ more than one such virtual offering.
While these virtual offerings were initially rolled out quickly to address a new need, they’ve proven to be a viable way for institutions to increase accessibility and engagement with prospective students. However, most institutions can only point to anecdotal evidence for this, which can make it difficult to know if each of your virtual offerings are pulling their weight or if they are unnecessarily draining resources.
This, in turn, presents a challenge when it comes to supporting strategy, effectively allocating limited resources, and sharpening the experiences your future students will use to make one of the most important decisions of their lives.
And it’s not just virtual tours you need to be looking to collect hard data around — it’s all of your tour offerings.
If you don’t have a data-informed process in place for effectively evaluating your tours, now is the time to put one in place so you can make the right decisions about the future of your tour experience. And if you have a preexisting system in place, check in on it to ensure it continues to meet your institution’s needs as your offerings grow and evolve.
So how does this process start?
It begins with determining what data is most valuable when evaluating your tours. Pretend for a moment that you are faced with a large financial cut and have to remove half of your tour offerings by the end of the month. How would you determine which to keep?
To answer this question, you need to ask data-centric questions that not only speak to values that mean the most to your process but also align to institutional priorities. These questions could include:
What medium (virtual, institution-led, self-guided, etc.) of your offerings drew the highest numbers?
What are the demographic characteristics of students who visited in person vs virtually?
What percentage of students indicate they are unable to visit in person and are looking for virtual offerings?
What medium of visits have prospective students found most helpful in making a decision to apply? Least helpful?
What percentage of students that applied went on a visit in person? Virtually? Both?
What percentage of students that enrolled went on a visit in person? Virtually? Both?
Once you know how your tour offerings will be assessed, you’ll quickly know what data you need and what data you’re missing. Naturally, your next step is to create a medium to collect your missing data.
If you skipped the process of defining what you’ll assess when it comes to tours and which data points you’ll need to do so, you might find yourself with a data tracking system that’s all bells and whistles rather than a solution to your data tracking needs.
When looking at implementing new data tracking systems, be certain of these two points:
You’re getting actionable data that is easy to read, digest, and share
It will be easy to combine your new and existing data points together to create a full, data-rich story
These are just some of the factors we kept in mind when we designed how data is captured and presented in our Campus Visit Experience. For example, our dashboard highlights the number of tours taken and types, inquiry submission rates (by type of tour), trending interest of prospective students, a heat map of which dates are most popular for tours, and more.
This allows us to help our higher education partners:
Understand inquiry trends based on demographics by importing our tour data into their existing CRMs
Leverage engagement data to determine which resources prospective students are most commonly interacting with
Confirm which methods of communication lead to the highest engagement
Analyze how frequently applicants and enrollees engage with a virtual tour
Determine what areas prospective students are most interested in learning about to inform the design of marketing materials, curated tours, and more
And that’s only the beginning.
If you’re ready to take your campus tours to the next level and dive deep into meaningful tour data, we’d be happy to help. Sign up for a free, no-obligation demo to check it out for yourself. Sign up for a demo.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rohan Thakkar (he/him/his) is a data empowered advocate who aims to develop tools that increase access and opportunity for students globally. During his 10-year career in higher education and education technology, Thakkar served in an array of higher education programs that have yielded expertise in institutional strategic planning, learning outcomes assessment, student services practice, and data analysis. He received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University – New Brunswick and has his master’s degree in college student personnel administration from Seton Hall University. He currently serves as the Director of Campus Visit Experiences at Full Measure.