12 June 2019

St. John's University

university united-states-of-america

“This is such a boost for ambassadors – and you can really see the passion in their responses.”

Creating a student to student connection

St. John’s University, New York, offers more than 100 degree programs – as well as professional certifications. But this much choice can be daunting for prospective students. As Corinne Gentile, Director of Enrollment Management Events puts it:

“As we approached the accepted students phase, there were a lot of questions about “Majors” – at 17 years old, students don’t always know what they want to do. They have questions like: what can I expect? What kind of internships are offered? What are the professors like? How big are the classes?”

The solution

St. John’s University launched Unibuddy in September 2018. Corinne said:

“Now, we’re able to give them the opportunity to speak to our students, and ask questions to our student ambassadors – real people experiencing day-to-day what these future students can experience.”

To promote the platform, St. John’s promoted the link in a weekly targeted email. They shared the profiles of ambassadors with shared characteristics to the prospect they are emailing – for example sending a psychology student profile to their psychology prospects. Students created blogs, which the university shared on its main chat page.

But this is just the start. Corinne said:

“We plan to blow it out of the water next year. It’s going to be a whole campaign, and on everything we do.”

The results

In just 6 months, 655 prospects and applicants from 70+ countries have used the St. John’s Unibuddy platform. What’s more, around 28% of applicant users have now deposited – a major increase on the 16% institutional average.*

Since launching, over 770 questions have been asked by students, and St. John’s had 82 ambassadors live on the platform during the academic year.

The data speaks for itself, and Corinne trusts that peer-to-peer will always deliver results. She says:

“Any time a prospective student has an interaction with an ambassador, they are more likely to come here. That student-to-student connection always has that effect.”

But it’s not just about the numbers. Ambassadors, staff and prospective students at St. John’s have all found real benefit from Unibuddy.

Corinne says her ambassadors want to celebrate their successful conversations, and it gives them a renewed passion for the university. She says:

“Ambassadors come and tell me when they have had successful chats, and we can celebrate that. This is such a boost for them – and you can really see the passion in their responses. It means so much more coming from them, and it’s so refreshing to see how much they care.”

For staff, Unibuddy is simple to use and has opened up a much-needed channel for peer-to-peer connections that wasn’t available previously:

“It makes it so much easier for us when we have a student who wants to make a personal connection, but can’t make it to campus. Previously, I’d give a prospective a student ambassador’s email address – which really isn’t ideal.”

And for prospects, they get to speak to someone in their language. Corinne puts it perfectly:

“A phone call to kids these days is so foreign to them. Now, I can say in their language: ‘just send them a message’ – ‘find someone, and start talking’.”

*data collected from a report dated June 3, 2019

28% yield rate

Compared to 16% institutional average


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