Apr 07 2017

Colleges Turn to Data and VR to Recruit Students

Universities leverage student information to create a personalized experience.

When it comes to selecting a college, the options for students can be overwhelming. Now, thanks to emerging technologies and marketing tools, universities can help make their decisions a bit easier.

“There are two things to consider with using technology to recruit,” says Monique L. Snowden, vice president for institutional planning and effectiveness at Fielding Graduate University. “There are those emerging technologies like virtual reality that can articulate the kind of innovative tech you have for learning, and there are customer relationship management systems (CRMs) that help personalize the process.”

A 2016 survey from Wakefield Research found that a 77 percent of students wanted their schools to use their personal information to make their college experiences better. Just as Netflix can tell students what movie to watch next, Snowden says she has seen that today’s students want colleges to tell them why they should attend.

By using CRMs similar to what is created by Salesforce, Snowden says colleges are in a better position to do just that.

“The old model of recruiting students was going to college fairs and handing out fliers,” she says. “Now, colleges are using these products that were built from a network business model.” Through using a CRM and student data, like intended degree, interests and demographic information, Ohio Wesleyan University has been able to create a web and mobile platform to engage with students, Campus Technology reports.

Using the platform, students are able to check out OWU social media, learn from student ambassadors, join discussion groups and watch a number of videos tailored to what they would want to know about the campus.

“We have students from many different backgrounds and the platform allows us to map content to meet the diversity of our applicants,” says OWU vice president for enrollment Susan Dileno in the Campus Technology article.

Giving Students a Virtual Look at Campus Life

In addition to showing students the kinds of innovative tech they can work with on campus, Snowden says universities can use virtual reality to provide a better view of campus, but at a high cost.

“These institutions are deciding that the cost is going to provide a return on their investment,” says Snowden.

Some universities have seen success with creating web and mobile-based virtual maps to help prospective students tour campuses.

Other schools are taking this a step further. Texas A&M University recently launched a VR-enabled tour system that is basically an expanded version of these 3D maps.

For student athletes choosing a college during the offseason of their sport, Iowa Stata University has leveraged VR as a way to help them experience what a live stadium looks like. The Gazette reports that Iowa State has been using a VR replica of their football stadium, down to the cheering fans.


Become an Insider

Unlock white papers, personalized recommendations and other premium content for an in-depth look at evolving IT