Student ambassadors can have a huge influence on the admissions process as high school seniors choose where to enroll in college, a new survey has found.
Some 57% of respondents involved in more than 370,000 online conversations cited input from student ambassadors as the most helpful part of the application and admissions process, according to the report from Intead, a higher education marketing firm.
Not surprisingly, interest in virtual connections has increased since the coronavirus outbreak closed college campuses.
“The last few weeks, students have been asking what online learning looks like for our ambassadors,” says Laura Fcasni, an admissions counselor at St. John’s University in New York City. “That is something they anticipate they will experience in the fall.”
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About 120 St. John’s students currently serve as ambassadors, using the Unibuddy platform to connect with admitted first-time students and applicants.
The ambassadors provide valuable perspectives on academic life and campus activities, including student clubs and social events, Fcasni says.
These days, students who watch virtual tours are asking ambassadors for more details about what was shown in the videos, she adds.
Student ambassadors reassuring students
In New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s student ambassadors also use the Unibuddy platform to help to keep admitted students on track for the fall, says Alexis Abdelnour, the associate director of admissions.
“Admitted students are still very hopeful and excited,” Abdelnour says. “They know that, at the end of the day, this is not going to last four years and they want to make sure they feel at home once they are on campus in August.”
While ambassadors often chat with prospects about common interests, they can also refer the incoming students to campus departments and administrators for more detailed information on the enrollment process.
“The platform adds another level of customer service,” Abdelnour says. “We really get to shape that first impression.”
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At Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Engineering, student ambassadors are connecting with international students wondering if they will be able to travel to the U.S. for the fall semester, says Carsen McBride, a recruiting specialist at the institution.
The school’s ambassadors come from six different countries and speak more than 20 languages. They work with students from the beginning of the recruiting process through enrollment and arrival on campus.
“There are a lot of concerns about getting visas and coming to the U.S. during the global pandemic,” McBride says. “Our ambassadors are a great resource for these students to feel like their concerns are being heard.”
The graduate school, has campuses in Boston, Seattle and Silicon Valley, has also hosted virtual opens houses and student group chats.
UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.