As campuses work to return to a sense of normalcy, you’ll need to prepare to welcome a greater number of visitors back on campus. Here are 3 areas to focus on to ensure a smooth process for your team and all of your visitors leading up to spring 2022.
By: Rohan Thakkar
Tours play an important role in helping prospective students determine what institutions to apply to and ultimately attend.
Research shows around 85 percent of students consider a campus visit to be of considerable importance to their college search process.
However, factors such as travel costs, scheduling conflicts, and health and safety concerns can prevent students from participating in a tour. Not to mention many institutions’ on-campus tour offerings were greatly limited or paused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of students who graduated high school in 2021 and took the ACT, 67 percent said they visited a college campus. An additional 20 percent said they did not visit a college campus but had planned to before the pandemic, and 13 percent said they had no plans to visit a college campus.
Luckily, it looks like the time has come where institutions can welcome visitors back to campus for in-person tour experiences. To make the most of the much-anticipated moment, it’s important to engage prospective students and families along the way and use data to continue improving and evolving tour offerings.
Below I’ll share three effective strategies to consider while preparing for an increased number of visitors on campus and show you how our Campus Visit Experience — which helps institutions offer personalized, accessible, and engaging tours that can be completed anytime from anywhere — can help you drive meaningful improvement in each (even ahead of the spring 2022 tour season).
1. Ensure relevant tours every time
General campus tours can be a great way to get to know an institution, but they can’t be your only tour offering when looking to engage prospective students.
Tours designed to meet the needs of many won’t be useful to all prospective students, especially for learning more about their particular interests or other key components of student life.
Positive, engaging, and impactful tours require relevancy. Providing each student with a personalized tour keeps prospective students engaged in learning about the campus and helps them better understand if the institution is a good fit for them.
Students’ interests drive tours with Campus Visit Experience. Prospective students can select a tour length and use tags (set by the institution) — such as degrees or academics, colleges, departments, and other factors such as student life, admissions, or financial aid — to create a truly customized virtual or self-guided tour on- or off-campus. Based on a visitor’s selections, the solution automatically creates a personalized tour route with relevant stops.
- Get the Campus Visit Experience up and running quickly at your institution with our Concierge Onboarding. Learn more here.
2. Engage prospective students and families throughout the process
Effectively engaging prospective students before, during, and after tour day is important to help them get the most out of this important opportunity and drive them to apply and ultimately enroll.
With the Campus Visit Experience, you can easily design curated content cards for a variety of audiences, including prospective first-year students, transfer students, families, and tour guides and staff.
As your team looks to ramp up in-person tours and visit events again, these custom mobile campaigns are an especially powerful way to engage prospective students and highlight what makes your institution truly unique. Below are just some ways in which you can customize your communication outreach via text messages or text-in keywords:
- Invite prospective students to take a tour whenever their schedules permit
- Help event organizers reach and engage prospective students ahead of key events, such as open houses, college fairs, and orientation
- Reach and engage families and other supporters
- Bring events to life and highlight the next steps after an event
- Provide additional, targeted support after a tour
- Request tour feedback to continue improving
- And more!
3. Use data to improve and evolve tour offerings
Data drives many meaningful decisions at institutions. But are you collecting the right tour data?
It takes more than just knowing who registered for a campus visit or who showed up. For institutions to stand out in a competitive landscape, it means gathering deeper insights — including student-specific ones.
The Campus Visit Experience makes it easy to tap into key data, including the number of preset and personalized tours taken, inquiry rates, selected interests, time and dates of tours, and other traffic insights. Data, such as a prospective student’s interests, can be fed into an institution’s CRM to help customize and align future engagements to better meet that individual student’s needs.
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.