Building the strongest student body for your college or university is a challenge. How do you cast your widest net and attract not only traditional students to your campus, but also incorporate fresh perspectives and craft a more representative student body? Most colleges have begun to shape strategies to increase student diversity on their campuses. True diversity includes a wide range of passions, backgrounds, and personalities. It shapes a bold worldview for the future leaders our colleges and universities educate. There are many challenges to confront in attracting students outside of what is considered “traditional” or “typical” for your campus. Below are a few effective strategies for increasing student diversity and shaping a representative campus.
Now more than ever, high schoolers put an emphasis on student diversity in their college search. The experiences of current students will influence the perception prospective students have of your institution, so attracting a more diverse range of students won’t happen overnight.
It can take many years of persistent effort to see results, and requires participation and dedication across your campus. This can include creating more accessible financial aid, hiring more diverse faculty and staff members, and creating new programming. However, recruitment efforts start with what, and more importantly who, your prospective students see on your website and social media channels.
Today’s student body is anything but typical, and figuring out how to attract and retain these students is incredibly challenging. Colleges have increased their recruiting budgets to find new sources of students to build student diversity on their campuses. But where and how are these resources best spent? How do we find the student body of the future?
Conversation in a college classroom is only as strong as the diverse viewpoints it encompasses. Representation of a myriad of ethnic populations is essential to shaping your student diversity and your college campus.
People find connection with others when they share the same interests, values, and goals. Showcasing current students who can speak directly to prospects about how they fit in, where they hang out, and how a particular campus works for them and fits their needs and interests will naturally promote inclusion. In short: you want prospects to see themselves fitting in on campus. As you showcase various clubs and organizations, make sure you show and give voice to these students in your materials. Doing so will show that your school embraces all students.
First-generation college students make up a significant portion of the modern college campus and have unique challenges that those with a family history of college attendance won’t face. While the numbers of these students are large, they often need additional support as they navigate the traditional college experience. They may have questions about financial aid, where specific offices and assistance may be, or understanding the process of enrollment. Student-made videos that speak directly to prospects about these questions can reassure them about the process.
That kind of reassurance is what builds connection, which–ultimately–is what students are looking for when seeking “the right fit” on a college campus. Reach out to these potential students by showing them the flexibility of the modern college campus and how they can use this flexibility to adapt their personal experience.
What’s honors housing like? Is college a challenge, or a breeze like high school was? Will I fit in? High-performing students are the holy grail for future performance numbers and eventually a source of bragging rights for alumni associations, but they seek connection just like everyone else. While these students want to see the success of those who have come before them and have an understanding of the academic rigor they can anticipate, they also want to know that there is campus life that they can look forward to. Does your campus have honors societies and social events for high-achieving students? Showcase clubs and spaces specific to honors students, including special housing, facilities, and programs they can enjoy. Let these students anticipate social events at your campus’ honors cottage. Giving students a window into the fun of campus life in addition to the rewards of their academic achievement gives a well-rounded impression of what their life at your college will be. Show them how much they will love it!
What do you love about your region? Now show that to students from outside of your area. Every campus is unique, and the best of your area is worth highlighting for prospective students. Is your college near a beach? Allow students from the mountains to dream of studying on the beach through a snowless winter by showcasing the best geographical elements of your area. Is your campus in the middle of a quaint mountain town? Tell students the story of your foggy mornings and wonderful on-campus coffee shop. Much of the college experience is learning to embrace independence and becoming a citizen of the world. Bring new perspectives to your campus by recruiting from outside of your typical region. Showcase not only the diversity of your area but also the diversity of the international student community on your campus. This will fold into your student body new and exciting passions and backgrounds. It will also diversify your on-campus and in-classroom conversations.
Many modern students find that they need one or two more years close to home to save for their investment in college. Reach out to these prospective students by showing them that the days of “missing out” on the freshman experience are over. Show these students that their campus experience at your school will be as complete as the traditional four-year students’. How can these students get involved on campus and live their full college experience? Offer them opportunities to get involved with campus organizations, clubs, and sports teams, and deliver the full scope of the clubs that bring so much vitality to your college or university. These opportunities for involvement are essential to bringing pride to your student body and your institution.
The days of the typical high school senior proceeding directly into the college environment are not so typical anymore. With many college juniors and seniors have spent their last year or two of high school completely online, entry into a “normal” freshman class has, in many cases, been delayed. Some students have taken the time to live a host of diverse experiences—a few years spent working, raising a family, or having a previous military career. Others will delay their college education by attending trade school first. These students need to be shown the value of the education your college can provide. This is where the importance of your school’s alumni comes into play. Show these students examples of real-world success. These students understand life beyond the four walls of your institution. Statistics and the possibility of a return on their investment in education will be important to them as they decide to attend your college or university. They will need to see that the community your college offers, post-education, is as important as what they will learn in the classroom.
During their college search, high school juniors want to see a variety of programs and activities offered at your institution. In a recent Niche survey, only 34% said athletics was an unimportant factor in their search, and only 26% said the same about arts. This means that the majority of students are interested in learning about one or both of these topics, and they should be highlighted in your messaging accordingly.
“Day-in-the-life” videos from current students are one of the top video resources high school students want to see from colleges and universities. They care about what it is truly like to live and learn on your campus. Even more notably, prospective students want to see people who look like them in your content, as more than half of high school juniors surveyed indicated that this was important to them when considering which colleges to apply to.
Here at StudentBridge, we have created a solution called My Five Faves that allows you to highlight the diversity of your student body and their interests through video vignettes. These videos follow current students as they show off their five favorite spots on campus and discuss how those locations factor into how they spend their time as students. My Five Faves allows you to showcase students involved in different extracurricular activities, such as multicultural organizations, Greek life, intramural sports, and everything in between!
Using My Five Faves, your institution can promote how current students from a range of backgrounds and with various interests experience campus life. By giving all prospective students a way to put themselves in the shoes of a current student who they can relate to, My Five Faves can assist your school on its journey toward attracting a more diverse class.
Find out more about how your institution could benefit from implementing My Five Faves by scheduling a meeting with StudentBridge today.