Each one of your students has a different amount of time they can commit over the summer to engaging with their college or university. An email newsletter may be enough for some, but many students do not have the time to read through an entire newsletter, and these email blasts go straight to their “trash” folder. Keeping these students engaged, without bothering them, can be difficult. That's why we've compiled a list of 6 tips for keeping your current students engaged, as the second part of the series in student summer engagement.
6 Tips on Keeping Your Currently Enrolled Students Engaged over the Summer
For some students, a weekly or monthly newsletter is enough to keep them engaged with their college of university while on summer break. And while you might be getting a reasonable open rate on your emails, many students do not have the time to read through an entire newsletter, and these email blasts go straight to their “trash” folder. Keeping these students engaged, without bothering them, can be difficult. That's why we've compiled a list of 6 tips for keeping your current students engaged, as the second part of the series in student summer engagement.
1. Have school spirit summer photo contests
Perhaps your school mascot is a terrier or a wildcat. On “Terrier Tuesdays" or “Wildcat Wednesdays,” encourage your current students to wear their school colors to work, family vacation, or while just hanging around with friends. Then, have your students send the pictures via a tweet at your university twitter handle, or an email to a provided address. Weekly or monthly, award a prize for the most creative, most spirited or funniest picture. For even more engagement, create an alumni division!
2. Send out exciting videos in your newsletter
Especially for schools with large athletics programs, students eagerly anticipate the release of their sports “hype” videos. These videos evoke an incredible emotional response and are all about getting the students ready for the upcoming season, like this example from Auburn University for the 2014 football season. If your school isn't known for your football program, but perhaps you are trying to increase interest in another fall sport, check out this video from John's University for their volleyball team. But these emotional videos aren't just limited to sports. They can be about the upcoming school year, or even about the marching band. Take this Louisiana State University marching band video, for example. These videos are not only easy to share on social media, but students are actually excited to share them.
3. Create a hashtag for students to use over the summer
Chances are, your college or university has students traveling for vacation, mission work or studying abroad. Maybe your students just have a really beautiful hometown, or a really cool internship. Create a hashtag that allows students to show off their pictures and adventures, and provide this hashtag to incoming freshmen students. Not only does this keep your current students involved, but it also shows incoming students the family that they are going to become a part of.
4. Host a "Come Back to Campus" day or weekend
Whether your students are spread out all over the country or all over your state, it's usually pretty hard for your students to get together. By designating a specific day or weekend, students can see each other with some informal programming throughout the summer. Things like catered meals, movie nights and even volunteer events can bring your students back together over the summer to ensure that your students are coming back again in the fall.
5. Publish a student author blog series
Your student body is full of personal stories and adventures that only they can share in their own words. By reaching out to students about their lives, both on and off campus, it creates a culture of sharing and community within them. When you publish one student's story about their first college football game or the day that they left for their study abroad semester, their friends and family will also share the post increasing your readership. Plus, with other students reading the stories of their peers, they may be moved to share their own story, providing your institution more content. And as referenced in Part One of this series, your institution can share these stories with incoming students to help calm their nerves for their first semester on campus.
6. Create an easy-to-share, visual countdown until the first day of classes
Many students are already counting down the days until they get to come back to campus on the day that they pack up to go home, so why not give them a countdown to save some math? They are on a break after all! First, take a picture of an iconic spot on campus, your mascot, or anything that communicates your college or university brand and add the number of days until classes begin. You can then take this image and post it on your university Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account for easy sharing, retweeting and reposting. Updating this countdown periodically will keep your students excited about the upcoming first day of classes. Better yet, make a countdown video to get your students really excited!
Keeping your current students engaged over the summer is incredibly important to ensure that they will remain a student of your institution. There are so many ways to use technology to keep your students engaged over the summer, and a combination of methods will give your institution the most robust plan possible. Remember: they will be going home and comparing their experience with the experiences of their friends. Make sure their experience makes them want to stay with you, not join another college or university.