Prospects want to hear from them. Parents want to hear from them. They’re the key influencers in your admissions marketing materials to authentically showcase the lived-in experience at your school:
Pulling quotes from real-time students at your institution can help interested prospects visualize what their lives will be like at your school. It can also reassure parents that their child will not only be in good hands, but will thrive there as well.
But finding these star students willing to share their story can prove difficult. That’s why we’ve pulled together our tips for sourcing the best student quotes for your enrollment marketing strategy and what to do once you find them.
Where to Find Quotable Students
Typically, an admissions office will create a list of student ambassadors to choose from. These are easy go-tos, as they’re familiar with the college or university’s marketing language and already advocate for the school on a daily basis.
When an admissions marketing strategy is reactive, these are the students to pull for fast and reliable experiences to share with interested high schoolers and their families.
However, many ambassadors tend to run in the same ‘type of student’ circle. Many are locals. Most are humanities majors. And you need a diverse set of stories to connect with the multitudes of student populations you’re marketing towards.
Ideally, admissions teams should create a master data set, sorting by major, year, and GPA. This is a quick way to gather a diverse set of academic interests from high-achieving students at different points in their college career.
On the flip side, if your team has the time and wiggle room to have a proactive admissions strategy, we highly suggest developing relationships with professors from popular majors at your school.
These professors interact with students on a daily basis. Especially at smaller schools, they know these students’ stories, goals, and can potentially find you a diamond in the rough.
After all, the smartest student in the room might not have the most compelling story.
Interview Mediums to Consider
Finding the student is half the battle. Opening a safe space where they feel inclined to share their story is the next step.
Although you might feel it easier to conduct these interviews via written communication, we’ve found that synchronous interviews tend to produce the best, most quotable information.
Think about it: students already have to write dozens of papers for their classes. An email response describing their story can feel like another assignment. Not to mention the pressure it places on the student to craft the ‘perfect’ answer. And don’t get us started on procrastinators…
Meanwhile, video or phone calls allow the student to go off the cuff and be more authentic. And with good questions at the ready, this should only take 20 or 30 minutes of their day!
Best Practices Before The Interview
Okay, you’ve found your student. You’ve decided your medium. Now it’s time to actually talk.
If you’re not immediately affiliated with the university, offer the student verification of your role and connection to the college or university.
Explain the purpose of this interview; and if you’d like, go ahead and flatter them a little. They are being picked to represent the university, and they should feel good about that!
Additionally, give the student insight into where their story would be shared (viewbooks, email campaigns, social media, etc.). Finally, ask them if they are comfortable with you recording the conversation.
Interview Questions to Ask Your Student
Once you receive consent and press record, you need to forget everything you know about the student. Going in with preconceived notions might compartmentalize the student into a specific, surface-level category. You’re a senior bio major born and raised in this town. You’re an out-of-state sophomore dance major.
But students, like everyone else, are multifaceted individuals and their stories might not fit into a neat box. Coming into the interview with a ‘blank slate’ gives the students room to share their own logic in selecting this school and allow their stories to take shape in a more organic way.
Make sure to steer the conversation to the very beginning of their college search journey by asking them Can you tell me who you were in high school?
From there, you should get insight into how this current, enrolled student can echo the experience of a current, prospective student.
Other great questions to ask:
What were some other schools you were considering and why?
How did you learn about the school you’re enrolled at?
What people were impactful in your search journey?
(This could be the student’s mother, a teacher who inspired them to pursue education, a professor they’ve been corresponding with, or an enthusiastic tour guide that took the extra step to make them feel welcome).
What was the ultimate moment you knew you wanted to go to this school?
In our experience interviewing students for quotes, it’s these questions that really encapsulate an impactful story, and hopefully ones that mirror the school’s mission. We’ve even had some tears shed during these calls!
You’ll want to find circles in how stories overlap larger pictures. Think about those relationships the student discusses and keep in mind who will be reading a majority of the admissions materials.
(Hint: it’s parents.)
Do make sure to ask students to compare then to now.
Have you grown or changed since starting at this school? What has your family said about your development?
Abstract answers like an increase in confidence and adaptability are actually fantastic gold mines as many students, regardless of location or academic interest, can see their personal development goals in these responses. And the parents looooove to hear their child is maturing in the right ways.
Finally, tie up the conversation by asking a concrete final question.
What are your plans after graduation?
Graduate school, jumping into the workforce — heck, even volunteering with UNICEF are all superb nuggets to pull from these conversations. And it gives credit to the school without career services having to pull actual data points on student success post-graduation.
Post-Interview Tips to Keep Your Student Involved
The good thing about recording the conversation is the flexibility it gives you to cull and shape the story into bite-size pieces, perfect for quotes!
We’re not suggesting going DJ Khalid and totally remixing the student’s story to fit a sales point. But tightening a narrative with compelling diction that stays true to the student’s voice and story will do wonders.
Of course, you’ll want to send the student the final cut to ensure nothing was misconstrued or left out in the final editing process.
And give back to the student by including them in post-production. Tag them in social media posts featuring their quote or send them the viewbook highlighting their story.
Learn More on Student Quotes for Marketing Materials with The Parish Group
Our admissions pros have decades of experience sourcing the best student quotes for admission marketing.
If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 828-505-3000.