Tips for the Campus Visit Experience

Becky Morehouse

Becky Morehouse

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Even as virtual visits increasingly offer a viable alternative to the traditional visit for some, there is every indication that the in-person campus visit remains a significant predictor that a student will enroll.

For the most part, colleges have responded to this student interest and though the size and even number of visit groups is smaller, they still represent an important opportunity to connect with students.

Break the larger campus visit experience into three sub-experiences: pre-visit, visit, and post-visit.

Before the visit

  • Try it out! Go to the website, sign up and follow the process.
    • Are the date and time confirmed?
    • Are parking directions provided?
    • Is the length of the visit listed?
    • Is there a clear agenda?
    • Is lunch included or not?
    • Contact information to change
  • Reminders. What is our reminder sequence?
  • Designate a powerful, seasoned campus visit director and free that person from non-visit-related activities.
  • Role-play difficult questions. Personal answers are great but a poor answer that isn’t informed can mean the end of the next step.

Day of the visit

  • First touch. What is the first personal experience they will have? Is it a personalized parking spot, someone to greet them at the door? How far do they get on campus before they have a personal touch?
  • Start promptly. Don’t give extra minutes to late people and delay those who were on time. They might have a long travel day.
  • Segment and customize their visit so it focusses directly on their needs and expectations.
  • Allow for change. If they would like to meet with the soccer coach but didn’t sign up, do what you can to adjust groups. Consider some “stand-by” options.
  • Reposition your virtual tour/visit as a precursor to a live visit, not a replacement.
  • Remember the goal of the campus visit is engagement, not education. The events, including speakers, must capture the hearts and minds of prospective students and families. Avoid longish speeches.
  • Wherever possible, match prospective students with current students and prospective parents with current parents. Don’t forget that engaged students want to meet the faculty and see the facilities. From their perspective, it is all about fit and a big part of fit is access.
  • Make sure you cover not only what makes your campus great, but what makes the surrounding locale great as well. Again, this content should be customized for each student segment.

After the visit

  • Have them drop off feedback immediately after. Don’t make the name required.
  • Specifically, ask for one thing that you can do better. Or ask what other tours did that they like that you didn’t do. Asking general rating questions will not provide honest feedback to improve.
  • Make sure updated communication recognizes that they did visit campus.
  • Conduct a visit post-mortem. What did you and your staff learn? How can you make the next visit event even more compelling? What tanked? What exceeded expectations?

Additional insights

  • Shop your competitors! Because your goal is to have the best visit experience of our top five or six competitors, make sure that you visit their schools at least every other year. Also, visit other schools that have a reputation for providing an outstanding visit.
  • Remember, the job of the admissions office is to get the student to visit. The job of the entire campus community is to make the visit a great one.

What is a mystery shopping audit? We offer a range of visit assessments and visit enhancement strategies. Reach out to us to start the conversation.

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