For many hopeful undergrads researching which college to apply for, travel costs for open events are becoming increasingly prohibitive.
With so much effort and money is spent on student recruitment, just how open are your open houses when so many prospective students simply cannot afford to attend?
Travel costs are a barrier that prevents students from fulfilling their further education dreams. Something that is often swept up and lost amongst all the chaos of college applications. Oh, and we know what you're thinking. But open houses are free?
Yes. Until you factor in the travel costs. A prospective student traveling from one side of the country to the other could be looking at plane and trains tickets of upwards of £150, not to mention the cost of overnight stays, or the cost of gas if the parents are driving. For young adults reliant on parents or low paying part-time jobs, this is an indisputable problem for many families.
Over in the UK this week, The BBC recently interviewed a number of high school students, soon to be applying for colleges, who commented on the unfairness of these costs and how making ‘blind’ decisions on colleges will only lead to regrets. As a result, many desired colleges and opportunities are simply taken off the table because of their expensive travel connections.
We know open days are an important factor for students when deciding enrolment, with the National Clearing Survey citing that 88% said that going to an open house influenced their final decision. And so, with open houses currently not being accessible for everyone, what is the solution?
There are many. A handful of colleges now offer travel reimbursements which are available for attendees that have travelled over a certain distance from their homes. Going a step further, some institutions now also provide prospective students and parents free accommodation for those long travel days that need an overnight stay. And families value this. Working with one international institution on their summer open house campaign, Net Natives found that the ads that publicised this helping hand were the best performing ads of the entire campaign.
Another way to allow students to explore your campus is by letting someone they trust lead the tour. And by that, we mean influencers, content creators and Study Tubers. We've spoken about this before, but there are some excellent examples from the likes of Eve Cornwell and Unjaded Jade. Both have created engaging and authentic videos based around their open house experiences that created a connection between the college brand and an audience in a way that the institutions would have been unable to do otherwise.
Many colleges are working hard to widen access, but the question of the moment is, how open are your open houses...really? It's time to put your college back on the table and look at the different ways to open your doors for many that cannot afford even to consider you.
If you haven’t already, don’t forget to download our free guide for student specialist marketers looking to smash their open house targets. If you would like to beat your open day targets or reach a new audience, then get in touch.