Our recent Open Days were amongst the busiest we have ever had and pivotal to their success was the role of our student ambassadors. More student ambassadors than ever before volunteered to help out at the Open Day, ready to do their part to advocate the University. Student ambassadors were on hand to provide tours, show their accommodation, give directions and generally be a friendly and welcoming face.
Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions (MRA) are responsible for recruiting and training all the student ambassadors we use at our events. We have a central bank of student ambassadors which we use to help with Open Days, Applicant Days and Outreach events. All ambassadors are given training so they know what is expected of them and the key information they need to give to prospective students at events.
Given the importance and power of word of mouth communication, student ambassadors are vital for ensuring University recruitment events are a success. We keep hearing time and time again that prospective students want to talk to current students because they want to relate to their experiences and they know they will get an honest opinion.
Prospective students like being shown accommodation by current students living there so they can ask questions such as: ‘what is it like to live here?’; ‘did you find it easy to settle in?’ Getting the student perspective to questions like these is essential for reducing the risk of prospects’ decisions. And these are important lifestyle factors that prospective students worry about. They want to know what the real experience is like and not the one they have read about in the brochure.
Student-led campus tours also enable prospective students to find out more about the campus from the perspective of a current student. They can hear about the fitness centre, the library and the Students’ Union (to name but a few) all through the eyes of a student. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could tell prospective students about SU Friday or what it’s like to be in the Quidditch Society, certainly not as well as a student ambassador could.
And when it comes to the course, student ambassadors are a great source of reference. Of course, we understand that the tutors are the real experts here, but an endorsement from a student ambassador is only going to enhance the reputation of your course. Student ambassadors can talk to prospects about their course; discuss particular aspects that they enjoy and how the course has helped to enhance their career prospects. This works well at Applicant Days when ambassadors have more time to talk to prospective students and their families.
Many academic departments have also seen the benefits of using their students to help out on Applicant Days and Open Days. On Applicant Days, some departments use their students to walk applicants from central activities on campus to their subject session. This provides another opportunity for students to be able to engage with applicants, giving the student perspective on what it is like.
If you have any questions about the Student Ambassador Scheme or would like some advice as to how you can use students as advocates within your Department, then please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.