Virtual events are the new normal. In a matter of months, students and parents have become accustomed to having meetings, joining virtual cooking classes, attending virtual concerts, and catching up with friends and family from their couch.
As the biggest recruitment events of the fall are being planned, it is key to understand what makes a student experience memorable at a virtual college fair, virtual open house, and other large virtual events.
There is a great opportunity to reach more students and provide memorable experiences at these large virtual events.
Here are some tips on how to ensure your institution creates memorable student experiences at virtual events this fall:
1. Get Creative
Large virtual events such as open houses, preview days, fairs, and other experiences present a tremendous opportunity for institutions to get creative! You have the opportunity to engage with higher numbers of students and provide them unique and individually crafted experiences at your virtual events.
One way to get creative is to give students the opportunity to choose from a wide array of sessions and meetings with members of your campus community. This means providing opportunities to meet with an admissions counselor, current students, alumni, financial aid, athletics, and virtually sit-in on a class all within the same virtual event.
The more creative sessions and options available for students to engage with your institution the better. This allows for students to continually learn more about your institution and meet with the people they will be around for the next four years.
Think about getting current students to show their favorite spots on campus or offering short welcome videos to prospective students. Faculty are a great resource to present research they are working in a fun and interactive TED Talk setting. Now is the time to get creative and make students excited to join your community.
2. Determine the experience you want students to have
There are a number of ways to try to run virtual events this fall. It is important to figure out what it is your team is trying to accomplish and the experience you want students to have. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Are we trying to revamp our entire campus visit program including 1:1 meetings, information sessions, open houses, and admitted student days?
- Or, are we trying to create a unique virtual experience for only our largest events?
The answers to these questions will help you plan better and determine the best technologies and services to reach your goals.
For example, at VisitDays, we offer two options to help institutions. With Platform, you can run all of your recruitment events virtually from smaller information sessions to larger open houses. Students create customized itineraries to ensure high show-up rates and to provide seamless access to all virtual events.
With Conventions, we help institutions create a marketplace that allows students to seamlessly pick and choose who they want to meet with at fairs, open houses, and other large scale virtual events.
For example, at 10:00AM a student might want to attend a session on how to complete FAFSA, at 10:30AM they want to meet 1:1 with a current student in their major, and later on, they want to go back and watch on-demand videos. Students have the ability to pick and choose to meet with any member available from your institution and keep engaging with your institution after the virtual event ends.
All of these experiences take place in an institution branded environment to provide students with personalized and memorable experiences.
3. Stay engaged with prospective students before and after each virtual event
Driving students to show up and be engaged during your virtual events is one part of the equation. Getting students excited before your virtual event and staying engaged with them after is critical to ensure that your institution is their top priority. Building out a blend of fun and informative videos and posts on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok puts your institution in front of students in unique ways. Authentic videos on your social media pages from current students go a long way in showing why a student should enroll.
For parents, a blend of authentic videos and informative videos on topics such as financial aid and career outcomes can be posted to platforms like Facebook to build strong bonds between your institution and parents.
These tips will help any institution, large or small, provide prospective students with virtual experiences that drive them to continue engaging with your institution and ultimately wanting to apply and enroll.