Talking today’s students – Are we listening?

Connecting with today’s students – Do we understand?

Today’s students are savvy…they have questions that they want answers to straight away, answers that are clear and concise.  Today’s students will not scowl through block text; they want the answers in a sentence, or a picture or even a video. 

The changes in how students select a university are subtle, quality is still the main factor but climbing steadily up the priority lists of demands for todays’ student is graduate outcomes, links with employers. The changes in priority may be subtle but the demands in terms of information required are growing at a steady rate.

At this point I have certainly lost the interest of my potential student, in fact most would have left after the first paragraph as I haven’t answered the question.  To engage today’s student this article would start with the answer;

We are not listening to today’s students; we continue to provide them with the same information that we were providing students with 25 years ago.

Now I have engaged the student I have answered the question, but how do I continue to keep the attention?  An infographic will do the job nicely showing standard information that is provided to student in a prospectus for instance.

Selecting the right course and the best university for today’s student is a huge information gathering exercise,  we all know that information overload can cause indecision and for some decision paralysis.

We have to make it easier for students with clear, concise text that provides the right information. Complex text turns students off.  Information presented in a visual format can be understood and absorbed quickly.


I am a person

Teenagers want to feel that the university is treating them as a human being,  as reflected in a recent letter to the Times by  Jenni Herd a 16year old,  the letter went viral.  If the university is communicating with the student in a personal manner, providing accessible and relevant information, the student believes that is reflective of how their experience at the university will be.  The first impressions are the lasting impressions yet many universities are happy with an automated we will respond in the next 48 hrs.



Parents can be a  part of the process

The increased investment in education alongside parents who are concerned about the future for their children has brought a huge increase in parental involvement in university choice.   We all want our children to do well, and the current nurturing and helicopter parenting means that parental involvement goes well beyond 18 years old.

What provision have universities made to engage with parents? They attend open days and look at the university websites but in terms of a dialogue with the university it doesn’t seem to happen. Yet we know parents are playing a big part in the decision making process, parents need to be engaged.  Providing parents with answers to their questions and queries will mean they are connected with the university and are able to have informed conversations with their children about options.

Joanna Turner