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Stand Out in the New (Ab)Normal

Heather Sumperl April, 27, 2020

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has impacted upcoming college search decisions for both universities and students alike. While some high school juniors and seniors may be rethinking their college decision, others are relying on virtual tours to narrow down their top choices.

Virtual experiences are no longer a nice-to-have, they're expected. With campuses being closed, the college visit is being re-imagined virtually and students are now able to visit and compare even more schools than ever before from the safety of their own homes.

Comparing data from April 2019 to April 2020, StudentBridge clients experienced a 98% increase in overall web site traffic and saw a significant uptick in visit duration.

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With decision-making being influenced digitally, institutions must put their best foot forward to showcase those assets that will influence prospective students when choosing a college that is right for them.

Recreate Fit

One could argue that the single most important factor in choosing a college or university is fit, both academically and socially. How schools recreate the college experience story is what will set them apart from the more than 4,000 higher ed institutions spanning the States.

According to RNL's 2019 E Expectations® Trend Report, the college website continues to be the most influential information resource in the college search with virtual content experiencing the biggest gains in impact. Develop your school's storyboard and create a strategy for leveraging content that you may already have to showcase your campus.

All the Feels

In a perfect world, to get a good feel for an institution, students should visit the dorms, have a seat in a lecture hall or enjoy lunch on the quad. For many, your grounds will be their home for the next 4 years and so it is essential for prospects to imagine themselves on campus and with a sense of belonging.

With social distancing measures in place, an in-person visit is just not possible; however, with today's latest technology, students can now experience your campus, down to the detail, through interactive maps. More than just a virtual visit, prospects need to be able to tour buildings and streets around campus to get a sense of its sprawling structures and social spaces.

Personalize and Engage

Soft skills matter when it comes to student recruitment. With closed campuses and cancelled yield events, recreating the student engagement experience has become an important differentiator in influencing enrollment. Implementing a simple solution such as live-chat will allow for a more personalized interaction with prospective and newly enrolled students. Students have questions and institutions should have answers in real-time. While this may seem like an easy short-term solution, a live-chat function has long-term benefits for increasing leads.

And finally, stand out from the crowd by creating opportunities for students to interact with their peers. Encourage conversation and provide a platform for your prospects to connect with other admitted and current students. Create a sense of community and camaraderie to foster excitement around your institution.

While high school seniors have already received acceptance letters and are now having to make decisions, juniors are just beginning their college selection process by visiting schools online. We are here to help you through this accelerated digital transformation and would love to talk through your enrollment strategy from in-person to online.

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