5 Quick Tips | Making the Most of Summer Open Houses

Summer open houses offer a great way for families to step away from daily responsibilities and get to know your college in a meaningful way. For some, it may be the first of many visits, but for others, it may be their sole opportunity to explore campus and gather much-needed information.

We know that you have your own unique way of welcoming prospective students and their families - covering everything from the admissions process, financial aid, academic offerings, student life, and interaction with current students. There’s a lot to cover, so here is a few quick tips to get the absolute most out of your 2019 Summer Open House.

Use an Integrated Approach to Promote

Using an integrated approach to your open house promotions will increase the likelihood that you will reach students and parents in the most effective and comfortable way for them. For example:

  • Send a personalized postcard directly to parents with all the logistics so that they can plan time away from work and other home responsibilities.
  • Send prospective students a personalized email that leads them directly to their own custom landing page.
  • Post your invites on social - you can even create in-app forms to encourage quick registrations as prospective students scroll through their feeds.
  • Provide a simple, open house-specific hashtag for use before, during, and after the event on all of your communications. Not only will this increase the reach of your promotion efforts, but you will also discover other uses too (more below!).

Clark Higher Ed specializes in delivering personalized email and direct mail and reaching prospective students through social platforms. Learn more about our solutions.

Offer Early and Easy Registration

We know from experience that students and parents do not have the patience for long forms that are difficult to complete on their mobile devices. Make registration as easy as possible while still getting the information you need to further your relationship with that student. Open registration as early as is feasible because these families may have to plan well in advance to travel to and spend time on your campus.

Balance Engagement Opportunities

Everything at an open house tends to be a little larger than life – make sure that you give the student and their parents as many opportunities as possible for one-on-one interaction before, during, and after the event. Plan to engage as many students and their parents as possible in small groups or on an individual basis.

You don’t have to do this for every subject you are covering, as some do lend themselves to a larger audience, but it’s a great idea to make sure you invest significant time in following:

  • Parents: Small Group or Individual Financial Aid Sessions

    According to the Princeton Review College Hopes and Worries Survey Report, the biggest worry parents have in 2019 is college cost and the potentially associated debt. Additionally, 33% said that completing admissions and financial forms was the toughest part of the process.
  • Students: Genuine Opportunities to Get to Know Others

    Students’ biggest fears often revolve around having to start fresh in a new place where they know no one and wonder if they will fit in. While you do want students to mingle and you do not want to perpetuate stereotypes, you could them some of the early group events in a way that would allow students to gravitate toward others with similar interests. After they are a little more comfortable, you can mix up the groups a little more to encourage them to interact with other interesting students.

Make Asking Questions Easy

Students and parents will undoubtedly have lots of questions. Ideally, you want them to ask these questions and receive their answers directly in person, but that’s not always possible due to the students’ personality or simple time constraints. Here are a couple of ways to make sure all questions are addressed:

  • Use the question feature in Instagram stories during the event. This will be a timely prompt for students and parents to think of their questions. College staffers can answer via stories through video or by having a set of commonly asked questions graphics ready to use as needed. If the answer is more personalized, answer the student through a video or text DM.
  • In addition to the hashtag for the event, you can share one specifically for questions to be submitted via Twitter. You can announce a specific chat time during which the questions will be answered or you can let submitters know that they will be addressed at the next large session.

Provide Maps & Tour Info

No matter how hard you try to keep the pace manageable while showing as much of the campus as possible, some families may still feel rushed and that they did not get to see everything. Provide them with a simple self-guided tour handout or link so they can explore at their leisure. You can either combine all of the following popular element in one self-guided tour or you can create separate ones based on your campus’ unique features. Ideas include:

  • Best Selfie Spots
  • Gardens and Landscapes
  • Sustainability Features
  • Foodie (best places to eat on or around campus)
  • Arts & Culture Spotlight
  • Athletic Facilities and History

Outstanding campus visits are an important stepping stone to eventual student enrollment, and summer open houses are a key touchpoint in that process for students and their families. With these tips in mind, your institution can leverage summer events to increase yield and be even more successful.