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The Power of Digital Orientation: Why Selling Higher Ed Doesn’t Stop At Admissions

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The tricky thing about student melt and retention is that the reasons for ending the pursuit of higher education can be as varied as the students themselves. Figuring out what is causing student attrition and how it can be addressed needs a multi-pronged approach which includes digital orientation.

Going Beyond Admissions

Of course, the first step as an institution is being a place that students want to attend, fitting with their program and academic goals and being able to provide what they need. However, the work isn’t over once the student has applied, accepted and enrolls in their courses. There is a considerable amount of time from when a student selects their classes to when they show up for their first day on campus.

Ensuring that a student comes prepared and informed before their first day is a challenge, especially when most contact with them is going to be virtual and not always personalized. However, keeping engagement and communication going after admissions is a critical part of retention, and can help address issues related to melt before they worsen. As many as 20% of the students enrolled in college do not actually show up in the fall leaving their deposits to universities.

Leverage Your Student Community

Helping post-enrollment students build confidence and connections doesn’t need to be time-consuming or costly. Making friendships before a student reaches their first class can sound like a daunting task for students and for the administration and recruitment teams.

For example, Unibuddy Chat can foster connections between current students and incoming students as a place where they can ask questions to soothe anxieties or worries, get information about resources that might be helpful when they’re studying and navigating student life, and all the while, they are building rapport with a student ambassador who can confidently guide them through this new experience.

Students entering your institution can use Unibuddy Community to organically make connections and develop friendships within their cohort and with the rest of the school’s community as a sort of digital orientation. With these connections in place, this helps a student to feel prepared and confident in the face of a new and challenging experience. Students who feel ready to take on their academic responsibilities and know that they’ve already got support in place for difficult times are more likely to succeed and are going to be less vulnerable to melt and attrition.

Related: Creating a Sense of Community for Your International Students

Virtual Events and Communities Build Confidence

Though one of the best ways to get students feeling involved and part of their community is to have them participate and exist in the current student culture, this isn’t always feasible for them. Students may have schedules that aren’t flexible for them to attend in-person events or they may be international and won’t be able to be on campus until it’s closer to the beginning of classes.

Hosting virtual events with Unibuddy Events service gives students a chance to get started on the right foot. They can make connections, learn more about their institution and program, and even begin assessing what challenges they may face and what resources are available to help them.

Doing orientation events on Unibuddy is simple and requires less planning than an in-person event. You’ll still want to make sure that the content of your event is relevant and interesting to students, but once that is taken care of, and the students have a virtual venue to relax and chat as well, events can run smoothly. Students can make authentic and lasting connections over Unibuddy Chats and Communities, and when they’re finally attending classes at your institution, anxieties and fears about community and friendships will be lessened as they can continue socialization in-person.

What Else Engages Students After Enrollment?

We know that student who has already chosen your institution is engaged in the content that has been created for them, but keeping that engagement going can require more nuance and follow up with factors that swayed their decision for your school to begin with.

Imagine one of the important factors for an incoming student was to know that they’d be supported with their mental health. For that student to learn what services are available to them, how to access them, and to even get connected with the support they need to succeed before they’re on campus can help them feel assured that no matter what their experience, they’ll have the resources they need. This student is more likely to stay, even during difficult times, knowing that they have help to reach their goals.

Related: Want a Proven Way to Engage Gen Z? The Magic is in Belonging

This kind of connection can be made through Unibuddy Community or Unibuddy Chat with student ambassadors asking questions about mental health concerns, or even just volunteering information about available services and providing information about their own experiences to help an incoming student feel less anxious.

Specific communities dedicated to mental health, cultures, events, clubs, activities and sports can all create a sense of belonging and mattering to a community if these are offered with Unibuddy. A student can arrive ready to take on the challenge of higher education. Last year alone 110,000+ messages were sent amongst students through Unibuddy Community and this has a big positive impact on student fees. For instance, Leicester University saw a £6.3M uplift in student fees and 23% increase in student enrollment since they brought in Unibuddy Community.

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