Indiana University Bloomington creates a sense of community amongst international students
At a large public research university, student communications can often feel disconnected and impersonal – leaving students feeling unsure where to direct their questions. For IU, “the biggest incentive to get involved in the community was being able to provide this one-stop-shop, home environment” (Seth Walker, Associate Director of International Admissions* at IU).
Seth wanted a platform that made them feel confident that their data would be protected and secure.
This was a deal-breaker for Seth when selecting the right environment for his community: “Our biggest goal is to meet students where they’re at while also maintaining our own privacy and security”.
IU used “trial and error” to find a Community that stuck.
Experimentation was the key ingredient to IU’s community strategy; where they created multiple niche communities, specifically: a sub-Saharan prospective students community targeting students at the selection stage, and an admitted student (offer accepted) communities for three different regions: Korea, Taiwan, India
Out of those they trialed, their admitted student chat for international students in India proved the most popular.
Unibuddy Community provided a safe, moderated environment for students to meet and chat, all while being supervised and supported by university staff—alleviating security concerns of the institution.
Trickier questions around financial aid or specific facility questions were easily answered and student concerns were alleviated as staff were able to quickly jump in. Meanwhile, students were “more interested in having questions beyond a transactional nature,” bonding over shared interests and hobbies, with users discussing their favorite sports, followed by a collective moan over the fact that cricket isn’t much of a deal in the USA.
The proof is in the pudding.
Insights were important for IU, and the Unibuddy Community was able to provide the proof of value they were looking for, to show more senior members the value of belonging.
Expecting only to see the qualitative impact of Community, they were impressed by the glimpse into their prospective students’ minds that they achieved, and were “surprised by great narrative insight into our applicants.”
Through a mix of qualitative data-driven evidence (such as the number of students in the community) to qualitative narrative insights (being able to oversee the conversations happening in real-time), they were able to produce a well-rounded picture of this group of applicants, taking these insights into their future outreach within this region.
But, did IU achieve the goal they’d set out… to create an explorative space where students felt comfortable asking questions and connecting with their peers? It would seem so. With 83 members in their admitted student “Future Hoosiers 2022 – India” community, and more than 850 messages exchanged; Unibuddy Community also became a hub for these students to find the information they were seeking and get their questions answered.
*at time of writing—Seth now works as the Director of International Partnerships at Indiana University Bloomington
We really loved the ability to maintain safety and privacy for both our international student ambassadors as well as our admitted students.
Seth Walker, Associate Director of International Admissions
Indiana University Bloomington needed a centralized, safe space where students could find all the answers they needed and connect with others like them.
IU produced a well-rounded picture of this group of applicants, taking these insights into their future outreach within this region. Unibuddy Community became a hub for these students to find the information they were seeking and get their questions answered.