Put your current students on IM to answer your prospective students’ questions

June 17th, 2006 Karine Joly 3 Comments

Blogs are nice, but sometimes prospective students crave a bit more real-time interaction.

When high school students want to ask a quick question about admission, student life or academic programs, chances are they prefer to get an answer right away.

They won’t call your admission office (hey, you’ve never been introduced – and they love to spend time on the phone, but only with their friends). They might not email you (email is so yesterday and formal).

That’s why you should offer them to IM (instant message) you.

I know, I know, it might be a challenge to use IM for the following reasons:

Does this mean you should just drop IM altogether? Of course not! Just borrow Beloit College’s idea!

At Beloit, the admission office has found the solution, Student Outreach Interns (SOI):

“We think one of the best ways to get the inside scoop on college life is to talk to the students themselves. Join the Beloit Buddy List and IM your way through the college search. Or, if you prefer, a Beloit student will phone or email you to answer your burning questions about campus life, academics, and how to balance it all — or even what to pack.”

What’s beautiful about this solution is that SOI work evenings and Sunday afternoons during the academic year (only week afternoons during the summer)
— when high school students are online. The interns make a bit of cash (the regular student job rate)… and the admission staff can spend time with family and friends on weekends ;-)

3 Responses

  1. Dan Karleen says:

    Thanks for mentioning this idea. What kinds of students does Beloit recruit? Does Beloit review any of the IM exchanges? Are they using AOL IM, or some other platform? Lots of questions–I know. :) But it’s an interesting topic to explore.

  2. Karine Joly says:

    They are student employees – I have been told that they are interviewed and hired according to campus student employment policies.

    Beloit has been doing this for several years. During the academic year, the SOI’s also maintain blogs. I don’t know if IM exchanges are reviewed though.

    They use AIM – but there’s an online form that prospective students can fill out to be contacted by a SOI. They are asked which way they prefer to be contacted: AIM, Yahoo Messenger, email and even phone.

  3. At NJIT, we are using an IM client in our Continuing Ed dept. to hold Virtual Open House chats.

    see http://cpe.njit.edu/oh/

    We considered just using AOL AIM since probably all our potential frosh use it – but CPE’s audience is older and it was decided to try a self-contained client.

    We are trying out Campfire from the very innovative team at http://37signals.com/ It’s inexpensive.

    Our library uses AOL & other clients – see http://www.library.njit.edu/aboutus/e-ref.cfm

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