10 Ways to Promote Your Academic Center

19 February 2020

The famous movie line, "if you build it, they will come" has not been proven true in higher ed. One of the biggest challenges our clients face is getting students to come to their centers. They hire amazing staff, create inviting spaces, offer a multitude of services all built to support student success, and yet they continue to wait for the flood of students that they would happily serve. We spoke with some higher ed professionals to see what ways they employ to promote their services and here are a few of the best ideas we heard.

Promote Your Academic Center:

1) Build partnerships with faculty and deans. Building relationships with faculty and deans is crucial to getting the word out about the why, what, how, and when. Letting faculty and deans know what your center is doing and partnering with them to help students succeed. I recall one hot summer day, our center staff brought water bottles to the faculty which had a homemade reminder label taped to the bottle that included the center name and location on it. We talked for a little bit with each faculty member and asked them for ideas for how to connect their students to the center. Simple gestures like these have very little material cost, make a lasting impression, and initiate a discussion with faculty that gets them thinking of ways to help.

"Hold events at your student centers to increase traffic and make students aware of your services"

2) Study and apply marketing strategies. Creating a campaign with multiple methods of communication will be key. With dean and faculty as your partners, send staff as representatives to speak in classes regarding the center and available services. Invite classes to visit the center so that students get familiar with the space. You could even create a scavenger hunt for students to take selfies at various service centers at the college for a small prize or candy.

3) Target new students. Make sure the orientation team mentions or invites you to speak to newly enrolled students. Create a handout to be given to students at orientation.

4) Take advantage of existing communication technologies. Create email campaigns that go to the students at regular intervals letting them know about the available services and the events and activities in your center. Send out SMS text messages with helpful and friendly reminders to students from your center.

"Purrs and Paws" Campaign

5) Hold events in your center. One center had huge success with a "Purrs and Paws" event in their counseling center. They partnered with service animal organizations and invited students to come in to play with and pet the animals. They advertised it as a way to relieve stress.

6) Clear signage. Work with your facilities management to ensure that there are multiple signs with effective language for directing student traffic to your center. Perhaps instead of always using the center name, try listing the need of the student, for example, "Need a place to study... this way" with arrows pointing toward the center.

7) Use software that enables easy searches and customized language. The Campus Compass in AccuCampus is an example of a student-friendly interface for locating services and centers using either a browser or the student-facing mobile app.

"Partner with local and campus businesses to offer students freebies like certificates and coupons"

8) Use social media. Creating Facebook groups, tweeting about occurrences in your centers, and snapping Instagram photos of your spaces are all good ways to promote your center. As with any social media campaign, the more active you are and the more relate-able to your audience, the more likely you are to garnish attention.

9) Giveaways and Coupons. Partner with local and campus businesses to offer students freebies such as certificates and coupons. Put up posters and message students about the chance to get free stuff by visiting your center. Then when they come to pick up their prize, be sure to tell them about the center and services available.

10) Offer credits or badges. Students love being recognized for their efforts as much as your staff does. Create programs for students to receive learning credits in your tutoring centers or badges for meeting with their advisers regularly.

Let us know how you promote your center in the comments below.

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