Connecting with today’s students – do we understand?

Connecting with today’s students – do we understand?

Today’s students are savvy. They want answers to their questions straight away, answers that are clear and concise. They will not struggle through block text; they want the answers in a sentence, a picture or even a video. The changes in how students select a university are subtle  – quality is still the main factor but climbing steadily up the priority list of demands is graduate outcomes, links with employers. The changes in priority may be subtle but the demands in terms of information required are growing at a steady rate.

At this point I have certainly lost the interest of my potential students, in fact most would have left after the first paragraph as I haven’t answered the question. To engage today’s students, this article should start with the answer. We are not listening to today’s students; we continue to provide them with the same information that we were providing 25 years ago.

Now I have engaged the student, I have answered the question, but how do I continue to keep the attention? An infographic will do the job nicely – showing standard information that is for instance provided in a prospectus.

For today’s students selecting the right course and the best university is a huge information gathering exercise and we all know that information overload can cause indecision and for some decision paralysis. We have to make the process easier by using clear, concise text that provides the right information. Complex text turns students off. Information presented in a visual format can be understood and absorbed quickly.

I am a person

Teenagers want to feel that the university is treating them as a human being. If the university is communicating with the student in a personal manner and is providing accessible and relevant information, that is considered reflective of how the experience at the university will be. The first impression is the lasting impression, yet many universities are happy with an automated ‘We will respond in the next 48 hours’ reply.

Parents can be a positive part of the process

The increased investment in education alongside parents who are concerned about the future for their children has brought a huge increase in parental involvement in university choice. We all want our children to do well, and the current nurturing and helicopter parenting means that parental involvement goes well beyond 18 years old.

What provision have universities made to engage with parents? Parents attend open days and look at the university websites but in terms of a dialogue with the university it doesn’t seem to happen. Yet, we know parents are playing a big part in the decision making process, so they need to be engaged. Providing parents with answers to their questions will help them connect with the university and be able to have informed conversations with their children about the various options.

How does your university connect with students? Leave your comments below.