It's Friday Night & The Recruiting's Right!

Downtown Iowa City, IA is a pretty happening place. Located right next to campus at the University of Iowa, it's a classic Big 10 university town and a quintessential part of the student experience. Like most families touring campuses, they've jampacked a campus visit itinerary that doesn't allow time for a burger or pizza slice at a local student favorite. We challenged the admission team at Iowa to embrace downtown more intentionally and show its connection to the daily life of an Iowa student.

As a result, Iowa Friday Night Live was born!

Starting at 4:30 pm, this visit includes an information session and tour of campus but ends with a tour of downtown, visits to selected restaurants, and an invitation to attend Iowa City's Friday Night Concert Series.

Starting off with only three offerings, each Friday Night Live event hit capacity and was a success! From the mouths of prospective students, here are some of the rave reviews from attendees:

Look at those personalized VIP badges! Swoon!

Look at those personalized VIP badges! Swoon!

“I think it was important to not only see campus on the tour but also the surrounding community. I can definitely picture myself there now.”

“We loved going to multiple establishments in downtown Iowa City. The owners were courteous, treated us to samples of their food and showed a great interest in our coming to the University. The University and city show a great partnership and offer strong support for students.”

“I liked that I got to see a different, but still very important, side of a university. For a lot of people, the social aspect is vital when considering a college and it was nice to experience that a little bit.”

"We have visited the campus before, but did not take the time to delve into the offerings of the downtown area. And the food offerings were exceptional. Awesome addition!”

“The Friday Night Live tour was amazing. It really showed everything Iowa City has to offer and how accessible it is to campus. We absolutely adored Iowa City! That is a huge selling point for the school.”

“The food tour was really awesome and fun! We have been on several tours now and this one was by far our favorite!”

“We really enjoyed the evening option with added nightlife of downtown. New twist on the college visit!”

Food, hospitality, how the local area embraces the college community, and social life - all important aspects to prospective families showcased here!

Big shout-out and kudos to Kirk Kluver (Director of Admission) and Allanda Hageman (Senior Events and Program Coordinator) at the University of Iowa for taking the risk on this event and sharing their success with our team!

Want to know how they did it? Reach out to their team or let us connect you.

PS. And now we're dying for an Iowa City must-have, Molly's Cupcakes! YUM.

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.

Outstanding* Ribbons

Scene: Open House in the late fall. Leaves are turning (well, for some of you). Lots of people. And an audience that includes high school juniors, seniors, applicants and admitted students.

As an admissions pro, the question "What year are you?" is the gateway to several types of conversations with a prospective family. We all know the conversation you have with a high school senior is completely different than one with a sophomore. They have two very different sets of wants and needs.

But do you really need to ask that question? Not at our client the University of Arizona. They have brilliantly designed the ribbons in photos below to attach to guest nametags to help identify who is who for their admissions staff. "I'm Ready for Zona Zoo" - I am talking to an admitted student. "Wildcats #1 Fan" - a sophomore with a little time to go in this process.

Families are none the wiser and helps staff quickly identify where a student is in this process. And is fun, creates memorabilia and includes a sense of play.

Way to stand out, Arizona (and help families stand out too)!

*Pun intended.