This Week on #EMchat: Enhanced iBooks & New Recruitment Tools

One thing I love about #EMchat is the fact that we get to learn something new each week. We get to see innovative tools in the field and connect with people we may have not known about before. I'm excited to say that one of these companies is Tosler. This week we'll be welcoming Jake Mueller, co-founder and VP to talk about enhanced iBooks and new recruitment tools. We've got a great round of questions planned and are looking forward to seeing what your institutions are using and how your tools have transformed over the last few years. Join in at 9PM ET this Thursday for the conversation! We asked the Tosler team to pull together some thoughts for the post below -- it's a great read!

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The world of College Viewbooks is changing. Prospective students are growing up surrounded by technology. They surf the web, read on their devices, and share their lives, all on mobile. These actions center on digital content. They consume digitally. It’s a foreign concept to us old folks, but it’s their world. When the 1 to 1 program was implemented in LA, Students overrode the social media restrictions built by adults. In one day.

As a result, Higher Ed institutions must shift to digital content to reach the up and coming generation. Producing a digital viewbook is the best way to start. There are currently over 10 million iPads in primary-secondary education, 94% of tablets in education are iPads, and the number of 1 to 1 programs is exploding. Not only are these numbers impressive, they are already outdated as of the writing of this article. Some institutions have turned to mobile apps to fill the digital viewbook role (U of Dayton, U of Chicago). With enhanced iBooks, however, converting to digital is not only more affordable, but it is also quicker than producing/out-sourcing a mobile app. Additionally, using enhanced iBooks provides access to the intuitive and popular iBookstore. Many high school students use the iBookstore already for textbook curriculum and general reading. Thus the tech-savvy college reaches the student on their own turf and displays an important generational awareness.

Typical print publications are expensive, less engaging, and provide no analytics. You print the material, mail it off, and never know how many students open the front page or toss it in the trash. With enhanced iBooks, you receive measures of engagement and measures of downloads. Armed with these analytics, colleges can study the effectiveness of their recruitment campaigns or college fair attendance. Real figures for real ROI.

Ultimately high school students eat, live, breath digital. And if they don’t already, they will be in a year. Every Institution of Higher Learning must meet their recruits on mobile. It’s a fact, not a question. The question is, how? 

Enhanced iBooks.

EM, Meet Advancement. Advancement, EM.

I’m sitting here without electric. I’m bored, getting kind of cold, watching the candles dwindle as the flames start to burn out (mostly because I’ve been burning candles all day...it’s what we do here), and enjoying the sound of the wind and rain. To be honest, I should probably be scared. I don’t know.  I have a glass of sauvignon blanc on my left and a glass of cabernet sauvignon on the right. I’m taking on this frankenstorm in the classiest manner I know how. I’m also typing this post with my thumbs and I’m not going to lie, I’m amazed at my dexterity. I’m pretty fast. Let’s hope that autocorrect doesn’t place any ridiculous words in this post.

I just read this article from our friends over at Noel-Levitz, and I realize more than ever the importance of having a connected university. I was lucky to have the opportunity to work in enrollment management, student affairs, academic affairs, and university advancement as an undergrad and graduate student at Salisbury University. I know that I drove my now wife crazy with all of my jobs, but I wouldn’t have the knowledge of how institutions work without those experiences.  She’s awesome.

It’s interesting that I would write this post tonight. As a Marylander, I’ve [obviously] been affected by Sandy. And yet, as I’m worrying about my family, my coworkers and my life here in DC (ish), I’m also worrying about my school. Salisbury sits 30 miles away from Ocean City, Maryland, practically underwater.

I’m thinking about the residence halls, the buildings, the city and the students. I’m thinking about the local barsI used to head to with throngs of friends for Thirsty Thursdays or weekend nights as I see pictures on Facebook of those establishments underwater. I remember mud sliding in the quad…running and jumping head first across the giant puddle, formed by a would-be-snow-storm that JUST wasn’t cold enough, ultimately ending on the other side, being amazed at how this was possible. I’m thinking about my freshman experience, especially as a good friend and cluster mate left me a voicemail yesterday that I’ve yet to return (but WILL very soon). I remember sitting on the beach and watching waves with friends as crazy storms rolled in. I’m smiling, thinking about taking Meggie on our first date as freshmen, just four months into our college years…driving to the beach to see the Christmas lights.

As I look down, I notice that I’m wearing Salisbury sweatpants and an SU t-shirt. I look at the collages of pictures on the wall and see my friends smiling back. I look at the blanket on my floor. Salisbury. The photo album on the shelf. Salisbury. My engagement pictures. Salisbury. And let’s not get ahead of ourselves, no, my apartment is not a shrine to SU. My wife is a phenomenal decorator. Really phenomenal.

When I go to college fairs as an alumni volunteer, I see firsthand the shocked faces of students and parents when I say that I don’t work for SU. I’m there, volunteering on a Saturday morning or Tuesday after work because I love my institution. I’m able to provide an insight to my school that these students may not otherwise see. I can tell these stories. I can smile and laugh and be genuine. And, that’s what sells an institution. I can pull from my cross-campus experiences (look for this term in a later post) to answer student questions, paired of course with the EXCELLENT alumni admissions training offered by my alma mater. I can mention my friends who are successful teachers in the state and those who went on, like me, to pursue their master’s. I can talk about my friends working for non-profits, the government, or starting their own businesses after winning competitions put on by Salisbury. I can offer that level of credibility. I can talk directly about job placement. I can speak both to and from experience.

I don’t want to step on Kristen Rothfeld’s excellent past posts on utilizing alumni in EM, I just want to offer my vantage point.

And now I’m thinking about giving. At 25, I’m pretty much just beginning my professional career; and, while I’m in a great place, it’s not one that offers me the opportunity to give to my school on the level that I desire. So I give my time at college fairs, I give my knowledge when it comes to social media and I give my stories to anyone who will listen.

How do you give back?

Summertime: Campus Tours (and drinks)

Summer brings a lot of things.  It brings the beach, vacations, sunburn, and my particular favorite, John Dalys en masse.  For those who are a bit too young to [legally] enjoy this delicious, thirst-quenching summertime beverage, the season also brings a lot of free time…to tour prospective college campuses.

I worked as a university host at my home university, Salisbury University, located on Maryland’s lower eastern shore (nice vicinity to the beach year round!), for four years as an undergrad.  It was one of the most rewarding jobs that I ever had, and it is what initially sparked my serious interest in higher education.  But, too many times I talked for a little over an hour by myself, not because I wouldn’t shut up, but because no one asked any questions.

Campus tours are your chance to get answers to the questions you can’t typically find on a school’s website or marketing materials.  And, while I think most campuses are typically best looking during late spring and summer, it’s really hard to get that real campus vibe.  So, here is a list of the top ten questions you should ask:

1.      What are your classes like?

2.      What have been your experiences with professors?

3.      What do students do on the weekends?

4.      Where is your favorite spot on campus? Why?

5.      What was it like living in the residence hall?

6.      What’s your typical day?

7.      What’s the deal with public transportation?  Really?

8.      What’s the party life like?

9.      How’s the food?

10.  Why did you pick [insert school here]?

Bonus question:

11.  Why are you a campus host? – I think it’s the best question you could possibly ask.  They’re not going to be a host if they aren’t passionate about the university—this gives them the chance to tell you why…they won’t lie.

For you parents who read this…you might also ask where the closest watering hole is, because if you’re touring campuses all summer…sometimes you just need to reward yourself.  Here’s to nice breezes, hot days, cold drinks, and finding the campus of your dreams!

What questions do you suggest prospective students and parents ask during their campus tour?

The Transition - First Generation College Students

Hello Everyone. Today was our final FirstGen meeting of the Spring semester here at the University of St. Thomas. Some of our students are about to walk across that graduation stage decked out in their well-deserved cap and gown attire. College Graduates! They've beat the odds. Their journey of becoming a college graduate is really coming true and I couldn't be more proud of them. Now's the time to make sure that you are reminding your first generation college students of this important transition and all that comes along with it:

  • Finals Encouragement - I've already had to remind at least two of my graduating seniors that now is not the time to slack off and lose sight of why you are in college. Take time to check in with them these last few weeks and provide them that much needed pep talk to finish your college career stronger than you started.
  • Keep Fear In Perspective - Feelings of fear is very visibile during this time for some and it could possibly stem from "What is my life going to be like after college" and "Am I really ready to enter the real world?" Be that sense of reassurance for them that they've accomplished history for themselves and their family and you know they will continue to succeed. Remind them about still connecting with Career Services even if they've landed a job already. Career Services can help to talk about preparing for your new job, what to wear in the new work place, and how can my university help me after graduation.
  • The Family Role - Some of your students have a good balance with graduating and including their family in this amazing celebration. However, some may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to include their family in preparing for this new journey. Teach students to continue to keep that important line of communication open with the family so they can discuss what's important about this time. Does the student really want a HUGE party the night of graduation or does she prefer a nice quiet dinner at home? This is not only a big time for the student, but their families have probably invested in the college journey too.

All in all, this is an exciting time for so many on our college campuses and we as professional staff have a chance to help in that experience. Please share your student's graduation stories (or even yours if your graduating...congrats!) here and also on Twitter. Don't forget to use the hashtag #EMchat as I would love to retweet and join in on your celebration! I certainly hope this helps you and the students you are trying to support!