Engaging with first-gen students at USC Dornsife

university united-states-of-america

Mark Kveton, Senior Assistant Director of Admission and Student Success

Jessica Castaldi, Assistant Director of Admission and Student Success

The challenge

At USC Dornsife, they were looking to reach more prospective students in a time without on-campus events.

They recognize that their student ambassadors are one of their greatest assets, and they wanted something that enabled better accessibility to them than email, which was where Unibuddy came into play.

“Unibuddy was a nice way to take all of those avenues and just funnel them into one place that was intuitive and offered all the things that we were looking for,” Kveton said.

The solution

“Unibuddy checked a lot of boxes for us around accessibility, as well as a really user-friendly interface,” Kveton continued. It was easy for the ambassadors to use the platform, and that was key above all else.

“It’s a very simplistic answer to a problem that we had. Our students wanted to get in touch with seniors in high school, who also wanted to get in touch with ambassadors. This used to require a form and many steps and Unibuddy completely removes all of that and puts the onus on the student rather than staff… students just have a way of relating to each other that’s very honest and clear,” Castaldi reported.

They’ve utilized custom filters to include hometown, transfer students, freshman spring admit students, and first-generation students. 

With 80 ambassadors, these filters have been essential for prospects to navigate the platform and find the student with the most similar experience to their own.

The results

This customization allows students to connect with others from their community. 

USC Dornsife has 17 first-gen ambassadors in their program, a percentage that reflects USC’s freshman class, which is comprised of 26% first-gen students.

It also aligns with the 22% of students who utilize that first-gen filter on the platform.

“First-gen students are asking questions about the transition to college, what the move was like and what resources are available. So, they can directly talk to a student who’s utilized those resources, who can speak to what they found useful,” said Kveton.


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