Thursday, 25 July 2013

Engaging with students in The Student Room

There's been a lot of talk recently about departments setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I'm really pleased to see new accounts being created by colleagues in Art and Design, Warrington School of Management and others. As I mentioned in my previous blog, these are great platforms to communicate specific information about your courses and departments, in a way that we just can't manage on our general accounts.

However, another popular platform that you might not be aware of is The Student Room, a community of over 1.2 million students who visit to discuss all sorts of topics ranging from study, to current affairs, sport, health and relationships.

Some of the varied discussions taking place.

University of Chester Forum

Of particular interest to us in MRA is the specific University of Chester forum. Popular discussions include applications, accommodation, interview advice and specific subjects. Our forum is moderated by a team of 14 volunteers, including current and former students, to keep things running smoothly.

In MRA, we act as an Official Representative. This allows us to monitor conversations and have an 'official voice' when there is a question that needs answering or an intervention is required. However, we're conscious that this is a student space, and don't want to feel like we're 'crashing the party', so we try to keep our posts fairly infrequent.

Some of the subject discussions in our forum
So, this is where you come in... As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of subject specific discussions that could benefit from having a knowledgeable student (preferably) or member of staff monitoring the threads and contributing to the conversations - a sort of online subject ambassador. What better opportunity to engage with prospective students than having a current student on the course there to share their experiences, offer advice and allay any fears someone may be having?

Once you have found a willing volunteer, it's easy and free to sign up for an account with The Student Room. Once you have signed up, you can go to our forum and find general discussions, or those relating to your department or subject area.

Searching and following discussions

If you would rather not browse the list of discussions, there is a useful search function at the top of the main window where you can search for your subject or department and just see those posts mentioning the keywords you specify:

Once you have found a thread of interest to you, you can receive email updates of new posts by clicking the yellow star to the right of the thread title:

Why we do this

One of the main focus areas of our campaigns over the last couple of years has been reducing risk. By communicating clearly the benefits of studying here, we hope to make Chester a less risky proposition, and hopefully a more likely choice for someone considering us among a range of other UCAS choices. By having experienced people in these networks to answer questions and concerns that prospective and current students have, we stand a good chance of improving our recruitment and retention.

As ever, if you want to get in touch with me about any of this, leave a comment or send me an email.

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