Engaging Prospective Students in a Time of Social Distancing
JPL/PS&L launched a virtual Accepted Students Day microsite to keep York College of Pennsylvania engaged with their prospective new students and families.
Social distancing guidelines have disrupted everyday life as we know it, for now. Important life decisions are still being made regardless – like where to enroll in college this fall. When campuses are closed and events are postponed, how are institutions building a new kind of community, in rapid time?
For York College of Pennsylvania, a rescheduled Accepted Students Day meant they quickly needed to find a way to facilitate engagement with two very important audiences – accepted students and their families. How York College responded during an unprecedented crisis and their strategy to combat summer melt warranted a meaningful solution.
Accepted Students Day is when students come to campus and get excited about the family they are about to join. They learn more about their upcoming college journey and hopefully, make it official with a deposit. The importance of this day can’t be understated.
York College asked us to help them fill the void between the acceptance letter arriving in the mail and the on-campus Accepted Students Day that was quickly being pushed back into the early summer. We knew an immersive digital experience was the answer.
Keeping our two target audiences in mind, we developed a microsite with three main areas that would be updated a few times each week to keep both students and their families coming back for more. Frequent emails alerted students and families of new content as it became available. Conceived and built in less than two weeks, the microsite features:
- A series of new and existing videos that help tell the story of York College for accepted students. New videos were created using social distancing best practices.
- An area where accepted students can complete several virtual challenges. This includes a challenge gallery where students can upload content and their submissions can be reviewed and “liked”.
- Functionality to allow accepted students to schedule a one-on-one session with an admissions counselor or join a group chat, based on major, led by a professor.
Throughout the site are opportunities for a student to complete his or her deposit online.
The site is accomplishing its goal of driving ongoing engagement with accepted students and their families. Analytics show a sustained level of student engagement and frequent traffic spikes as new content is published and email notifications are pushed out. Participation is at a higher rate than anticipated, with the majority of students submitting two or more entries per challenge.
Long-term Value for the Institution
Even after the pandemic ends (and it will end some day!) this microsite holds great value year over year. Not every accepted student can attend Accepted Students Day – and for those who can, an online community is still a great place to bolster the messages and feelings that one gets from visiting campus. Why not add this to the regular cadence of activities meant to turn accepted students into enrollments.
Could your college or university benefit from some quick-turn web magic in this time of social distancing? Get in touch and let’s start a conversation. Virtually, of course.
PS&L is a division of JPL. Learn more.
To talk about how PS&L can support your admitted students with a web solution, contact Janet Sieff (412-904-3133).