Saper Vedere. It’s Italian for “knowing how to see.” And it’s a notion Leonardo da Vinci considered essential to living a full life.

You see, da Vinci was all about the connessione (connection) between things. He didn’t keep his interests in silos and used his foray into one subject to inform his work in others. This gave him the diverse perspectives needed to make associations between things that others failed to see. It’s largely the reason why his ideas and inventions were so far ahead of their time.

Figures like da Vinci help us understand the power of perspective. And its importance extends far beyond creating works of art or inventing something new. How we see things is also a significant factor when it comes to making decisions, both everyday ones and those that are life changing

College is one of those life-changing decisions. Students are putting more thought than ever into the college-selection process, making it all the more vital that they see you in the best light. And sometimes, that means viewing yourself from their perspective.

The Prospective Perspective

Do you really know how prospective students see you? Because they might not be seeing what you think they are.

It’s hard to envision how others see you—or what others want to see—when you’re so enmeshed in the daily minutiae of your institution. You can forget what makes you special—what distinguishes you from the crowd. Something that’s an everyday occurrence to you may be a really cool differentiator to a prospective student.

Not too long ago, I visited a school with a strong NCAA Division I football program. Our campus contact casually mentioned that every student is given free admission to all athletic events, including football games. When I remarked how impressive that is, she seemed surprised. To her, it was business as usual, but that’s not the case for a lot of other schools.

Our contact hadn’t considered that what they do isn’t the norm.  A lot of schools with programs of their caliber charge quite a bit of money for football tickets, even in the student section. Finding a school that makes sure every student is able to participate in campus athletic traditions is refreshing. As a prospective student, that’s something I’d like to know, but it wasn’t something the school actively promoted.

Before you go through planning your next recruitment cycle or putting together a new brand campaign, take a step back. Channel Leonardo da Vinci and remember that it’s important to see things from all different angles, especially the ones you often forget to consider. Then make it happen.

How to Think Like a Prospective Student

Get into the minds of your prospects through an activity such as a focus group made up of prospective students and first-year college students still fresh out of the admission process. Learn what matters to them most—and how they rate your institution in those categories. Get answers to the questions you have about how your most coveted recruitment groups see you. And know the words and images that resonate most among them.

Learning your prospective students’ wants and needs will help you connect with them on a deeper level. It will help you see yourself in a way you maybe hadn’t before. Like da Vinci, you’ll be able to make important connections others might not be able to see. This will help you gain the perspective you need to make your next marketing campaign full of the personality and energy it needs to be successful.


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