Merriam-Webster named ‘culture’ the word of the year for 2014. The ranking is based purely on the volume of lookups, and in 2014 the word culture gained more widespread interest as people sought to understand culture – what it means and how it influences organizations, especially in the corporate world.
In the world of higher education, it’s no secret that campus culture plays an extremely important role in recruiting new students. Culture encompasses your school’s values, the types of students you enroll, your faculty profile, learning environment, events, clubs, organizations, sports teams. In essence, your community – and your brand.
Your brand embodies what your school stands for in the minds of the audiences you are trying to reach and what moves them to take action – it’s not just a logo or a tagline. Your brand means different things to different audiences, but rest-assured, to each of them, your school’s culture is an integral component.
In our November post: Virtual Tours – Culture Over Campus, we reference a 2013 Noel-Levitz poll which supports the notion that on-campus events, such as open houses for prospective students and parents, and campus visits are the top two recruiting tools for four-year public and private institutions alike.
Campus tours include obligatory stops at important locations around campus – a classroom, a lecture hall, the library, quad, student union, the all-important dining hall and bookstore – it’s the glimpses into campus life unfolding around them that really ‘sell’ the school to prospective students: The hustle-bustle of students grabbing lunch in a busy dining hall; the hush of study groups in the library; friends playing Frisbee on the quad; students chanting and cheering for their team. Giving prospects the chance to see, hear and feel the energy of your school’s culture is integral in communicating your story-and your brand.
While the ultimate goal is to bring prospects (and parents) to your campus, the reality is that high school students and their parents lean heavily on college websites as they research schools. Colleges that figure out how to effectively communicate their brand stories and immerse website visitors in their cultures (not just tell them about it and show them images), can only improve their chances of luring prospects to campus, and converting them to matriculated students.
And that’s what college recruitment is all about.
Author: Christopher Downs, Director of Product Development