Aesthetics/Esthetics

Washi Tape: Not Just for Taping

Aesthetics matter. Every time we're on a campus, we take loads of photos for our clients of positive, negative, and missed cues, many of which are rooted in the aesthetics of campus.

We often think that investing in aethetics of building interiors is going to be expensive. Installing art, painting, designing and installing large graphics, wrapped windows... it's can be a daunting task (but well worth the effort).

But during our travels, we've started to see college students take aesethics into their own hands. Without big resources to make interiors more fun and festive, they are turning to a cheap option to spruce things up - washi tape.

Check out some of the examples from our travels. Can you invest in washi tape and let your students take it from there?

Three Cheers for Chalkboards

Why do displays for your Welcome Centers have to be overly designed, stuffy, and outdated the moment you print them?

Three cheers for our clients who've chosen to install chalkboards and use them in fun, purposeful ways in their daily campus visits! They're modern, timeless, and, again, FUN.

(Also included: a few of our most recent favorite chalkboards in our experience excursions!)

Client Brag: James Madison University

Boring elevators are so 1853. If you're in the midst of a remodel, renovation, or looking to tackle an easy aesthetic issue, take a cue from our client James Madison University.

Recently, they moved into a new space. They took advantage of blank space on elevator doors by wrapping them with campus landscapes to make it feel as though you were exiting into campus.

Bonus: They have both a summer and winter edition to help guests understand JMU experiences all the seasons.

How do you use your elevators to help showcase campus and tell stories? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your blog with #renderthevisit.

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winter_elevator.jpg

Sidewalks: Not Just for Walking

Let's face it: our faces point down when walking these days. Mostly because we're all walking with a supercomputer in our hands. 

So why do we keep putting up expensive wayfinding on signage? Many businesses and colleges are moving to sidewalk graphics and paint to make announcements and get visitors where they need to be. 

Can you start using your sidewalks more?

It's an Instagrammable World

We understand. Colleges are academic. But, at some point, we have to realize that if we want visitors to engage social media during their campus visit, we have to give them something to photograph other than buildings.

Peruse some of our favorite instagrammable moments and photo opportunities in today's photographic-centric climate.

Is your campus ready to install an instagrammable moment to engage visitors?

Maximizing Wall Estate

We all have blank walls on college campuses. You walk by them and daydream of the possibilities - large graphics, storytelling, outcomes of your current students.

Our Principal, Trent Gilbert, long ago coined the term "Wall Estate." Your Wall Estate is the lot of those blank walls just begging for something, anything to help tell your institutional story.

Our client, Hofstra University, is seizing the opportunity to make the most of their Wall Estate! Since our visit earlier in 2017 (Hofstra makes moves fast!), they've implemented a campus-wide branding campaign to add more color, spirit and storytelling to bridges, stairwells, buildings and, most importantly, their Welcome Center.

Way to go, Hofstra! We're so PROUD of your hard work!

Photo credit: Andrew Cohen (Associate Director for Campus Visit, Office of Admission, Hofstra University)

Transforming Big Hills

The dreaded uphill walk on tour. Yeesh. Your tour guides joke about it being our cardio for the day, but after the third or fourth hill, we're pretty much over it.

Check out how The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC transformed an uphill walk into something easier, safer and more enjoyable for guests. Small, incremental steps take a little leg work (pun intended) out of battling against the uphill walk.

Worth passing along to your facilities management folks for consideration? We think so. Our legs will thank you.

 And here's Brittney. Turning another family outing into a blog post for Render. 

And here's Brittney. Turning another family outing into a blog post for Render. 

Branded Air Conditioners: SO COOL

You know the spot on campus. You walk by and cringe a little. Unslightly trash bin, HVAC unit... sometimes we have some non-aesthetically-pleasing moments (but necessary to keep our universities functioning) that we know guests will see.

Here's a great example of turning a negative cue into a positive: a wrapped HVAC unit on the campus tour route at our client, Central Connecticut State University! Brilliant!

Celebrating 10 Years of Campus Visit Consulting

This time 10 years ago, campus visit consulting began with our first client, Rider University (NJ). We've learned quite a bit along the way and have witnessed many successes with our hundreds of clients. Reflecting on those 10 years, here are 10 quick observations on how the campus visit industry has improved and changed in a decade:

1. The campus visit is now a priority
More savvy presidents, VP’s of enrollment/marketing, and Deans/Directors of Admission are investing in their campus visits with both budgets and people.
2. Campuses look better
Providing placed-based education means the place needs to look better. Investing in the aesthetic is the more the norm.
3. Better bathrooms
“Where are the restrooms?” is the most frequently asked question by visiting families—and now leadership knows it and is investing in making bathrooms better for guests.
4. Welcoming spaces/places
From application processing offices in basements to admissions offices that feel like a county government office, more and more schools have renovated or built facilities that are welcoming, hospitable, and comfortable for guests.
5. Full-time focus
"Director of Campus Visits” (or the like) is becoming more the norm: Professional, focused, non-traveling, non-recruiting positions that make the visit their only priority.
6. Millennial staffers "get it"
Raised on experiences, in the experience economy, and part of better campus visits themselves, millennial admissions staffers get the power and importance of the campus visit.
7. Stories, not scripts
When empowered and trained, student guides ambassadors embrace storytelling and families connect and learn more.
8. Our nomanclature is frequently spoken
We always hear our clients, fans, and others use our terms like, “Wall Estate,” “Brands are Mirrors,” “It’s all about the Experience,” and “Sense of the Butt!”
9. CIVSA has grown in size and scope
Collegiate Information and Visitor Services Association has set conference attendance records and their 3rd annual SDI Student Development Institute had nearly 300 tour guides and ambassadors from across the country attending.
10. Increasing number of companies dedicated to the campus visit
From virtual tours, to apps, visit-scheduling software, and competing campus visit consulting enterprises; a campus visit industry is emerging. Everyone wins because families are having better experiences when they visit and enrollment leaders are being more strategic in the crafting of their campus visits.

There’s still much to improve, but we thought it right to pause, ponder, and celebrate how far the campus visit has come. It’s been an honor to be a thought and best practice leader. This video is a quick "THANK YOU!" to the many people who helped us get here and continue to believe in the power of the campus visit.

Mending {Metal} Fences

It's summertime on college campuses which means two things:

  1. Lots of visitors.
  2. Construction!

All too often, construction rolls into the fall semester, and we walk families on tour by sites framed by ugly metal fences. (Really, has there ever been an attractive metal fence?) Prospective familes want to know the story of construction, and we frequently encourage our clients to put renderings on fences to tell families what is coming, what it will look like and what the new construction means to the student body.

But, on a recent visit to our client the University of Iowa, we stumbeld across this brilliant idea in downtown Iowa City as they're remodeling one of the main thoroughfares in their retail and restaurant district. What was once an ugly metal fence has now been decorated with streamers from local patrons - the majority of which are Iowa students, faculty and staff. So easy to implement, engages the senses, low cost and high impact! What do you notice first: the construction or the streamers? Would you feel compelled to tie a streamer on the fence? We did!