Ideas for College Admissions Events & Campus Visits In a Post‑Pandemic World
Colleges and universities have learned a lot of valuable lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the biggest? How to host admissions events and visits responsibly but with the same level of enthusiasm as before the world shut down. Tough to accomplish on a good day, tougher to do while wearing a mask. But institutions demonstrated their resilience. They moved their events outdoors, created smaller visit opportunities, and went virtual. They gave it the old college try and, for the most part, succeeded.
Now that it feels like the worst of the pandemic is behind us, campus communities might be eager to restore a sense of normalcy and return to the grand-scale events of the past. We’re here to tell you not to forget those lessons learned. Being forced to pivot and adapt over these past few years actually resulted in some great ideas — don’t lose sight of them.
We’re living in a new normal. Students’ expectations have changed.
Here’s how you can help meet them with your college admissions events and visit opportunities:
1. Smaller, more personable events: Sure, we’ll be a broken record for a second. Generation Z demands personalization. They’ve grown up in a world where everything — from the content they read to the TV shows they stream — was curated for them. So we still believe smaller, more personalized events are the way to go. Customize activities and programs to a student’s program of interest to allow them to meet students like them, make friends, and get to know their future professors. These smaller events can leave bigger impressions on students and families who already feel overwhelmed by the college search process.
2. Personalized invitations: If you’re putting on a smaller, more personalized event, you will need invitations to match. A save-the-date postcard signed by the deans of each school, an email invite from a current student in their program of interest, or a text message from their admissions counselor with the day’s schedule can help to show students and their families that your institution cares.
3. The fun factor: Keeping things fun for students and families was top of mind for many institutions during the height of the pandemic. They were forced to think outside of the box to make an impression, and many of these ideas still apply.
- Take advantage of green space: Scatter lawn games throughout the area. Create teams with faculty, admin, students, and families to really give them a sense of your community. Take photos and post them to your social accounts.
- Make dining interesting: Instead of the same old dining hall meal, have students/families vote on what they would like to try and serve when they visit. Give away coupons or discounts to local restaurants/coffee shops for them to use in the future. Bring a food truck to campus. Let students get a taste of the local affair.
- Show off your swag: Since you might be scaling back on larger events, you might have extra room in the budget for swag! Pass out T-shirts, stickers, or magnets — provide prospective students with something to remember you by. Gamify the day. Reward students for guessing college-related trivia questions correctly with something from the bookstore.
4. Incentivize: We know budgets are stretched thin, but if you have room to spare, we highly suggest using incentives to motivate students and families to visit your campus! Perhaps a visit grant of up to $1,000 could help seal the deal. Or, maybe host a raffle and give away swag. Even better: Have students take selfies while they’re visiting and use a branded hashtag in their social posts. Then, randomly select a few participants to win a prize. Not only is this fun, but it will help spread awareness about your event on their social accounts.
5. Keep your virtual events short: Still plan on hosting events online? All of the above still applies (well, everything but the selfie contest!). But, make sure to keep your online events short. A recent Niche survey of the Class of 2022 found that only 8% of students prefer to attend a virtual event that lasts more than an hour, and 67% said they expect twenty-to forty-minute sessions.
Want more event and visit ideas for your college or university?
There’s a lot more where this came from. CCA has helped dozens of institutions reimagine their Open House events, Admitted Student Days, campus tours, and everything in between. Want us to come audit your experiences? Need a list of ideas for an upcoming overnight? Let’s chat.