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One of the most effective ways to recruit prospective students is to help them vividly picture attending your college or university. There are numerous ways to do this–brochures and traditional videos are a few ways to accomplish this.
In the past several years, however, some schools have created immersive and interactive virtual reality experiences to accomplish the same goal. Instead of telling or showing prospective students what it would be like to attend their schools, they are empowering students to live the experience.
Below are three ways admissions departments are using virtual reality to engage and recruit prospective students.
1. Hitting the Road
At high school fairs and similar events, standing out can feel like an impossible task. There are times when dozens and dozens of competing schools are trying to grab–and keep–prospective students’ attention. One way schools are cutting through this noise is by outfitting their recruiters with virtual reality headsets.
In some cases, schools are taking high-end virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift to these events, and enabling prospective students (and sometimes parents) to experience their campus as if they were actually there. Some schools are also bringing inexpensive VR headsets such as branded Google Cardboards to hand out to select students. Overall, schools that have provided their recruiters with VR headsets have reported that they attract more prospective students to their booths and speak to students longer.
2. Headset Giveaways
One of the first schools to fully embrace virtual reality was the Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2015, the Georgia school mailed branded Google Cardboard headsets to students who had been accepted into the college, but had yet to enroll.
The goal behind the campaign was to push these students to enroll by reminding them of what it would be like to attend.
“Virtual reality is one way you cannot just see but experience a place,” SCAD’s Vice President of IT, Brad Grant, told the LA Times. “If you’re talking about a painting studio, we can get a camera assembly inside that environment, and when you put on the goggles you can experience what it would be like to be in a painting studio full of students.”
3. Virtual Reality Booths
Other schools have set up virtual reality booths in their admissions office to provide prospective students with unique experiences. For example, these booths work well on rainy days when physical visits aren’t helpful–or even possible.
Virtual reality booths can also supplement physical campus visits in extremely memorable way. There are many times during the school year when the campus is alive with activities that showcase its community, such as homecoming week. By capturing these experiences in virtual reality, admissions professionals can not only tell students how exciting these events are, but put prospective students in the middle of it–no matter the time of year.
These booths might also provide students a glimpse into what it’s like to attend a class or a difficult-to-access part of campus.