Peer-to-peer: Let your students do the talking

CampusConnect’s Daniel Hinkley (centre right) with MBA students who recently discussed their pre-enrolment experience.

CampusConnect’s Daniel Hinkley (centre right) with MBA students who recently discussed their pre-enrolment experience.

Today’s university prospects lead a connected, digital life. They’re savvy consumers and when making major decisions such as where to study, they don’t go badgering through your university/college website, neither do they wade back through previously ignored emails, instead they turn to the authenticity of the crowd.


Eric Stoller said in a recent blog post, ‘students are downstream from a tidal wave of communications that they are often unprepared to manage,’ and this is even more true throughout pre-enrolment.


Working with universities in the UK and Ireland at the sharp end of the student recruitment process supporting prospects from offer to enrolment, we hear one applicant question more than any other, ‘can I speak to someone who’s studying on my course?’ Peer influence is powerful, and it’s not going away.

Ambassadors…..ready!


Here’s where your student ambassadors are worth their weight in gold. Prospects trust what they say over and above anything you (or anyone on the university payroll) might say.


Whether it’s someone on an official student ambassador scheme, or one of your current students willing to give up an hour of their time, peer-to-peer comms. is now an essential string to your pre-arrival comms. bow.

Authenticity


Today’s prospects consume so much more data and information than any previous generation, and they’re quick to recognise (even sophisticated) marketing techniques; what they crave is honesty, trust and authenticity.


Laura Bowe, international digital marketing officer at Liverpool John Moores University recognises the significance of peer-to-peer, ‘students are investing in their future when they come to university, so this isn’t a consumable item they can buy and regret without much impact on their lives, therefore the information presented to them at the foundation of this decision has to be on point and from a voice they can relate to.’


The enduring popularity of The Student Room demonstrates just how highly prospects value a relatable voice to engage with in pre-arrival.


Whether you provide the opportunity (and channel) or not, applicants WILL find a way to link up with current students/alumni whether it’s via Instagram, Facebook or, like the postgrads in the pic above, LinkedIn.

Key takeaway


Putting past and current cohorts together with new prospects in a friendly and engaging way certainly isn’t easy (see practical engagement strategies here), it’s time consuming and can be a thankless task, especially when done manually.


However, it’s no longer an option to not to do it, prospects expect to have regular access to current and past students’ opinions and advice; pre-enrolment peer-to-peer has gone from being a nice to have to an essential service, a cornerstone of the whole student recruitment process.


Final word here goes to Laura Bowe, who summarises well, ‘ambassadors are essential. I don’t believe there is any better way of getting an authentic voice out to our potential students.’


What is CampusConnect?


CampusConnect is a mobile app service connecting universities and colleges with their incoming prospective students.


Students connect with fellow applicants, student ambassadors and staff, as well as accessing critical, personalised pre-enrolment information. The service provides institutions with higher rates of offer - enrolment conversion and better prepared, happier students.


For more information, get in touch with me on dan@campusconnect.ie
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Declan SweeneyComment