April 25, 2024
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StudentBridge: Connecting Students With Colleges Beyond The Home Page

Picture this: you pack the car, put some great music on, and head to your first-choice college or university. You’re ready to wander the grounds, meet some people, and decide whether this place is where you’d like to spend your next four years. The college tour is almost a rite of passage. In 2020, the in-person college tour became another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. 

Companies have worked to meet this unique moment head-on with access to virtual classrooms and meeting capabilities. However, even prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, the college tour had entered the virtual space. Far ahead of the pandemic, StudentBridge created a way to drive student enrollment and continue the rite-of-passage of the college tour in a virtual environment. With the pandemic forcing the hand of many prospective students, the StudentBridge program was perfectly aligned to meet their rapidly changing needs. 

Virtual College Tours Drive Enrollment 

The traditional college tour is an event akin to a rite of passage, especially for students and their families. It often involves travel, budgeted expenses, and multiple planned trips to hit up various schools of interest. With the availability of in-depth virtual tours and Video Viewbooks, students can visit far more institutions. A student may be inclined to strike a college from their list if it’s too difficult to visit. Colleges can put themselves back in the running by offering virtual visits and making it easy for any student anywhere to “visit” their campus. Colleges and universities will not have to resort to recruiting locally to achieve enrollment goals. They can, in turn, recruit from anywhere in the world.

Students (and parents) considering schools — whether in higher education, K-12, or specialized institutions — are probably used to getting a stack of literature once they inquire. Much of that literature likely gets discarded. The intention of the institution may be to offer clarity and focus, but print products and glamorized ads may not accomplish the goals they have. Video Viewbooks help drive enrollment tenfold by speaking to today’s generational familiarity with video and virtual research. Institutions can provide a completely immersive experience and fully tell the story of their school in a way that speaks to today’s students. 

Finding “The One” Virtually

Before students decide that a college is “the one” for them, they want to have a clear picture of what it will be like to be a student on campus. In fact, 65% of prospective students list the campus visit as the most influential factor in selecting a school. Today’s students live their lives online and are very tech-savvy. They know that immersive virtual experiences can be just as good as the real thing and, when you throw in the money-saving and convenience, even better in most cases. 

In-depth virtual tours allow the prospective student a 360-degree look at a campus and university facilities. Video Viewbooks tell a school’s whole story, while StudentBridge’s self-guided, on-campus and mobile web Video VisiTour app enables students to check out the campus at their own pace and on their timeframe. Each stop on the tour, driven by Google Maps, is peppered with audio information and text highlights. Combining these tools makes it easy for students to picture themselves attending that school, walking those campus walkways, and entering those buildings. The student is far more apt to choose the school where they can easily imagine themselves building a life. 

Campus life is just as important to students as the education they are aiming to achieve. This is where they will spend some formative years, and the whole campus experience has to resonate with them. Interactive 3D maps allow students to get a “boots on the ground” look at where they could be living. The tours go beyond just buildings and streets; the goal is to give a sense of community, and give the student an accurate picture of what their life could be like if they choose that school. 

 A Narrow Focus to Reach Each Student 

When a prospective art major visits a college, they have different priorities than an incoming football star. Today’s younger generations expect personalized virtual experiences tailored to their needs and interests. StudentBridge encourages their partners to create virtual tours that are tailored to individuals—not just generic “one-and-done” experiences. For example, a student entering a creative major may want to take time to see city murals near campus, whereas a student athlete may wish to wander the football field or see the school’s gym and fitness amenities. The more personalized a school can make a virtual tour, the more it will speak to the student’s individual interests. 

Prospective students may be considering many schools at the same time. They are going to want to know what makes your particular institution unique. What does your school have that the other five to ten colleges on their list don’t have? Colleges don’t want to be just another name on a list, and competition is fierce. A narrow focus doesn’t only pertain to the interests of the student but the unique attributes of the school and campus. 

A Professional Approach 

Schools may be hesitant to wander into unfamiliar virtual territory because it’s new and different. At StudentBridge, professionals are on hand to guide schools through creating the best virtual experience possible. It can help to have an outsider’s view to identify interesting elements a school may be overlooking, simply because they have sat with them for so long they take them for granted. 

Today’s prospective student demands an increasingly virtual world. They are coming into the college experience prepared to be wowed, expecting to have their needs met, and eager to learn. The competition for enrollment is fierce and that should only be increasing as the nation comes out on the other side of the pandemic. Virtual Video Viewbooks are here to help colleges not only meet enrollment goals, but also to set themselves apart from the pack and make it to the top of student’s “must-see” lists. 

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