November 20, 2021

How Florida Gulf Coast University enrolled their largest class—while spending $0 on travel


Chris Langone

In 2021, Florida Gulf Coast University enrolled their largest class in history and spent $0 on travel. This realization forced the university to re-evaluate how to approach student recruitment events for the future. 

After the past two years, it’s clear that the future of prospecting and engaging with prospective students is through virtual solutions. Through the past few virtual college fairs hosted on our platform, we’ve seen that the level of engagement and quality of leads from in-person to now virtual is far higher. As a result, taking an online-first approach is becoming more commonplace for college recruiters and admissions representatives worldwide. 

One of our customers, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), saw an opportunity to meet their students virtually rather than spend time and money by sending their college recruiters on expensive and timely recruitment trips. 

“The pandemic forced all of us to rethink how we do business and think about the money we have to put towards recruitment and how best we can utilize it,” said Dr. Lisa Johnson, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at Florida Gulf Coast University. 

Due to travel restrictions during COVID, FGCU allocated all of its resources to hosting and running completely virtual college events to engage with and recruit their prospects. In 2021, FGCU enrolled their largest class in history and spent $0 on travel. This realization by Johnson and her team forced her to re-evaluate how to approach student recruitment events for the future. 

“We need to be able to show students the amazing gift education can give to them. And for me, the reason I like the digital approach is that you can hone in and give messages to students that hopefully hit them in the heart,” said Johnson. 

FGCU and hundreds of other colleges and universities have used virtual event platforms like VisitDays to host live sessions, promote on-demand video content, and set up one-on-one meetings with prospective students so they can show the value of their college or university. Rather than handing out pamphlets or brochures at physical college fairs, our virtual solution offers more flexibility and level of engagement. Students attending virtual fairs or events can more easily view content, attend relevant live sessions, and find the schools that best fits their needs. 

“The virtual solution could help students connect with the colleges in a personal way that they otherwise may not have the opportunity to do. It is such a better way to think about the future, utilizing all these opportunities and technology that we have in front of us. You have to think outside the box,” said Johnson. 

College access is another advantage of hosting virtual events. Because of the broad reach of the virtual offering, students from all over the world can access colleges and universities that they might not have heard of otherwise. 

Parents and students are joining these events to meet with the institutions they had already targeted in the college decision-making process, as well as institutions they would not have considered. Through the events, they can connect directly with admissions reps without leaving their homes, which is especially beneficial for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

“We’re up 20 percent in freshman applications for next fall, and we brought in our largest freshman class in history this fall! I do think we are at a time in this field where everybody has to take a good hard look at the budget you have, how you want to spend it, how you think you can best find students that would be interested in your university, and how you think you can engage with them. We have to get smart enough to consider the other options and figure out if they will work for your university,” said Johnson. 

If you would like to learn more about our virtual event offerings, schedule a meeting with VisitDays to see how you can host your virtual events for prospective students.