During the COVID-19 pandemic, college international programs are struggling to get students in the door. Typically, “Princeton welcomes more than 70,000 visitors to campus in a calendar year—but not this year.” This year campuses have been closed to visitors, recruiting budgets have been slashed, and departments are wondering how to continue to best connect with prospective students. How can schools adapt? The answer is a virtual admissions strategy.
Virtual admissions is the process of pursuing, vetting, and admitting prospective students electronically. It’s been around for years, but, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s proven to be one of the best methods for acquiring new students. This article offers four tips for college admissions offices.
1. Host Virtual Event
Basically, hosting a virtual event allows interested parties to learn more about a school—much like in-person fairs. These events cater to any individual who’s curious about what your college or university has to offer. Virtual events can take many shapes, such as an informational session with different speakers giving presentations via webcam, Q&A sessions with current students, and virtual visits with specific high schools. Topics typically include a discussion of educational opportunities and student life.
2. Strengthen Online Presence
Any college looking to recruit virtually must have a strong online presence. This includes maintaining multiple social media profiles, posting content regularly and interacting with followers. Many colleges have successfully used virtual tours of campus grounds and testimonial videos from current students as part of their suite of online admissions content.
Having an attractive social media presence will help encourage prospective students to follow and like the content the company posts. In turn, this provides a steady stream of potential students.
3. Invest in Quality Audiovisual Equipment
Appearance matters when connecting with others online to all parties involved. That’s why prospective students dress up, and it’s why they’re taken to nice conference rooms or offices for college interviews. This same thinking applies to virtual interviews. When speaking to prospective students virtually, using a quality camera and microphone will say a lot about an organization. Conversely, low-budget equipment may send a negative message about how much the school is willing to invest in providing students the resources they need to succeed. With the ever-increasing cost of tuition, students want to make sure their money is being well spent.
4. Have an Admissions Infrastructure Ready
Pursuing and vetting prospective students is only part of the virtual admissions process. In the end, these individuals will need to be onboarded virtually as well. In fact, they may be tele-schooling from miles away. Virtual admissions may include moving student orientations to online channels.
Virtual admissions take investment, but it can be a valuable tool, not only during a pandemic. These strategies are a great way to reach more students than ever before. According to an article on YaleNews, “Virtual events really make our reach global. In a single virtual session in June, we had prospective students participating from 23 different countries.”
This is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2021 Zywave, Inc and AcademicHealthPlans. All rights reserved.