16 November 2020
Running a successful student ambassador program

The key to making peer to peer a success is the ambassadors that represent your institution. Your ideal student ambassador team will be passionate, proactive and fun – but finding the right people, training them and keeping them happy can be a challenge.

You may be completely new to the ambassador game. You might have some students you use for campus tours, but no regimented ambassador programme. Maybe you have a structured ambassador programme already, but are looking to turn it virtual for the first time.

A student ambassador is the voice and face of your institution, someone that prospective student enquirers can turn to for information about applying to your school: both the practical, and the experiential.

They aren’t an enquiry hotline or a chatbot. They might not be able to tell you the visa requirements at the drop of a hat – but they can tell you what it’s like to be a South American student studying in New York, or where the best place to eat is near the dorm rooms. Or a top tip for getting free pizza during orientation.

We work with over 400 ambassador programs at colleges and universities around the world – and we’ve learned a lot. For example, we know that the average ambassador program consists of 81 student ambassadors, and at an average university 70% of student ambassadors will be undergraduate. 78% of schools recruit their student ambassadors to work both in-person and digitally – while 22% recruit digital ambassadors only.  

We’ve taken all those lessons about what works, and compiled them into our brand new guide: Getting Started with Ambassadors. Whether you’re putting together your first ambassador team, or just want some ideas to make your existing program more successful – the guide is packed full of ideas. 

Here are just some of those ideas. 

1. Assess potential student ambassadors against a rubric of key skills 

Do you know what you’re looking for when it comes to the perfect student ambassador? 

It will depend on whether you are recruiting digital ambassadors, in-person ambassadors, or student ambassadors who will do a bit of both. 

But in any case, it’s important to know what some of the key skills they should possess are.

Our guide features 5 key characteristics of a great student ambassador, and some ideas for how to make sure your candidates have that skill. 

For example, you could consider an interview stage where you act out a scenario as a prospective student. Or, you might ask them to submit a written answer to a common question. 

2. Ensure diversity in your ambassadors

When choosing your ambassadors, we recommend selecting a broad range of passionate and proactive students from across the university. 

Language, course, nationality, hobbies – all of these can influence a prospect and encourage them to start a conversation. Ultimately, prospects are looking for someone they have something in common with, so the broader the range, the better.

The overall ambassador total will depend on how many different courses you have, how many key audiences you are looking to engage with and whether you cover all levels of study. Remember though, quality is just as important as quantity. 

Ambassadors who are proactive and confident will excel, and make a real impact on the prospect journey. If you do not have a large, diverse group of ambassadors when you launch your platform, that’s not a problem. 

You can always start with a smaller number (around 10-15) of really good, well-trained students, and scale from there. However, be prepared to increase your ambassador count as soon as traffic increases.

student ambassador guide

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3. Host a student ambassador training day

Our guide is packed with ideas for training ambassadors – from making sure they are empowered with the right knowledge, to giving them the skills to effectively use any digital tools they might encounter. 

Make use of all of the ambassador training materials and host your very own student ambassador training day on campus or remotely. 

As well as covering how to be a great ambassador using a range of materials and resources; you might want to incorporate some team-building exercises into your training.

This will provide more opportunities for the ambassadors to interact with one another, allowing the ambassadors to get to know each other a little better.

4. Recognise (and reward!) good work

The job of an ambassador is tremendously rewarding. Nothing is better than seeing a nervous, uncertain prospect leave as a confident and reassured future student. But good work is often unsupervised: out on a tour or in a private conversation. 

So when an ambassador gives an amazing answer to a difficult question, a university supervisor will often have no way of knowing. Sharing visitor feedback with ambassadors is a great way to show that you recognise their good work.

When working on your own all day it’s difficult to see the impact of your work on the wider picture. Even some positive feedback on the impact they are making goes a long way.

By sharing some top-level statistics with the student ambassadors, they can start to understand and see the impact they’re having. You could try sharing weekly or monthly statistics on how many conversations have been had overall. 

Or, if you can, how many of the students they spoke to accepted their offer.

These are just four ideas of the many that are featured in our jam-packed guide to student ambassadors. 

Download your free copy now!

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