Although the 2020-21 academic year forced us to adopt virtual events, as we head into the fall, things aren’t looking so black-and-white. Whether your institution is planning on going entirely in-person or is looking at a more hybrid model, virtual events have proven staying power.

In a recent survey, we asked over 1,100 students what they liked and disliked about virtual events, as well as how influential certain events were at helping them decide where to go to school.

Utilizing this data, we’ve created a list of do’s and dont’s for virtual events to help make sure your next event is successful.

Survey Overview

  • We received 1,126 responses total
  • 89% of respondents were high school students; 10% were in college or university.
  • 90% of respondents said they had attended a virtual education event within the past year.
  • 52% of respondents stated that attending the event(s) helped them make a decision about which school to attend.

The majority of student feedback sounded something like this:

“I liked the wide range of tools and resources available, I wished there could have been easily accessible one-on-one discussion.”

“I liked that I had the potential to visit places virtually when it might not be feasible to travel there in the moment.”

For more details about the survey results, click here.

Do: Prioritize One-on-One Communication

In a virtual event format, students expected to connect with a “real person” and have all of their questions answered. Students expressed the value of live video with faces that made it feel like they were in-person.

So, it’s important that your virtual events offer students the ability to private message, videoconference, as well as give students a wider range of staff to connect with.

Don’t: Focus Only on One Type of Event

While events like Information Sessions and Open Houses were the most widely attended, students still found less popular events valuable. For example, events like campus tours and education fairs were attended by fewer students, but were rated more highly for their helpfulness when students were making decisions about which school to attend.

So, by offering a wide range of events (including things like Open Houses and Panels of Alumni), you can ensure you’re engaging with varying student interests.

Do: Include More Giveaways

Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular notes of feedback came from students requesting more giveaways. In-person events often involve swag and prizes — which students missed during virtual events.

By offering more giveaways (some student suggestions included school swag, games and prizes, orientation packages, and virtual loot bags), you can both improve engagement during the event as well as help boost your registration-to-attendee conversion rate.

Don’t: Forget About Current Students/Alumni

One of the best ways to “sell” your institution is to give your current students or alumni the chance to share their student experience. In reality, it’s much more impactful for students to hear a real perspective and get advice from people who were in their exact shoes.

So, leverage student ambassadors or alumni during your events as much as possible. Having a panel discussion with students from different programs, or the chance for students to connect one-on-one, can go a long way.

Overall, students did enjoy the virtual format, but not more than in-person events — likely meaning that moving forward, the best events will be those that adopt a hybrid model to encourage attendance from both local students and ones unable to travel.

And, if you’re looking for more information about the survey results, click the link below!

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