The last year has thrown the standard playbook for admissions teams out the window. No longer could prospective and admitted students walk around campus, meet current students, walk through the Quad, buy swag, or get a true feel of the campus. This American Life recently released a show titled “The Campus Tour Has Been Cancelled,” which ran through all the ways that the college admissions process has been changed, perhaps forever.
While the pandemic has undoubtedly changed college admissions and the processes by which teams abide, there is now a tremendous opportunity to engage with your students with unique virtual experiences that can go beyond the campus tour and provide more access to your events.
Some critics might say virtual events are too impersonal, too much of the same thing, and once you’ve attended one virtual event you’ve attended them all. While the way one attends a virtual event might be the same (via laptop, smartphone, tablet), the experiences a brand and institution put forward have endless possibilities. The key is to ensure that there is unique and engaging content and that it is being housed in a virtual solution that truly represents your brand in every way.
With virtual events, you are able to cast a wider net to invite more perspectives and admitted students to engage with your institution before, during, and after your virtual events. A virtual event does not need to start and end at specific times (although they absolutely can). Instead, you can run live events on a particular day and then keep your content open for days, weeks, or months after to ensure that your audience can always come back to engage with your content.
To increase engagement in virtual events, attendees should be able to chat with your team and other exhibitors at your virtual event. This allows for more continuous engagement where you can see exactly which attendees are interested and what that level of interest is with your institution.
One thing is for sure, virtual and hybrid events will be around long after everyone returns to campus. The ability to reach more students, provide better access for engagement between students and institutions, and to leave content open for engagement for longer are benefits that teams cannot ignore in the future. Younger audiences expect to consume content on their own time and not be forced to live by a strict itinerary. Virtual events provide the opportunity for institutions to give their audiences what they want and to sit back and see the benefits of increased engagement roll in.