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How to Recruit More First-Generation Students

Posted on:
November 29, 2022

First-generation college students are an important target for colleges and universities; though they often come from disadvantaged backgrounds, they have the potential to transform their lives and the lives of their families. Colleges want to recruit them because they know these students have the motivation and drive to succeed in college and beyond.

By recruiting first-gen students, colleges can help level the playing field and give these students the context and the chances to succeed. Recruiting first-generation students also gives diversity to school campuses, and we have touched before on why it's important to encourage diversity at your college. These students often come from underrepresented groups, and their perspectives can add to the richness of the campus experience.

But what is unique about first-gen students?

There are a few key ways that first-generation students differ from all Generation Z students. For one, first-generation students are more likely to be lower income and thus have to work harder to pay for college. They may also have less family support in terms of college planning, guidance and preparation. Additionally, being the first in their family to attend college can add an extra layer of pressure. Finally, first-generation students may face more challenges in adapting to the college lifestyle and culture as they may not have the same social networks or support systems as their peers, which can make the transition to college life even more difficult.

How do you connect with first-generation college students?

In general, virtual school tours are becoming increasingly popular among colleges and students as a way to connect with each other. And for good reason: virtual tours offer a unique opportunity for students and their parents to get an inside look at a school without having to leave their homes or travel long distances. A live virtual tour takes this experience one step further because it enables the presenter to engage in real time conversations with participants while navigating through tour stops and sharing campus experiences.

But, for an admissions office, it is important to know their needs, desires and expectations and be prepared to address them in order to effectively communicate with first-generation students. Here are five things to keep in mind:

1. A feel of the campus

The first thing the students might want to know more about is of course, the campus - What does it look like? How big is it? What are the facilities like? This can be a make-or-break factor in their decision to apply.

When it comes to content, you school tour should be more than just a bunch of pretty pictures. It should tell a story that engages the student and gives them a sense of what it would be like to attend the school. A live virtual tour would help build the required personal connection as each piece of media file is accompanied by a human interaction and real-time Q&A opportunities.

Another appealing aspect of virtual school tours can be a window into student life on campus. The tours should be able to answer questions like What do college students do for fun? How do they live? What kind of social scene is there?

2. A sense of belonging

When looking at colleges, first-generation students also want to get a sense of the community on campus. This means more than just seeing the dorms and classrooms; it means understanding how students interact with each other and with faculty members. The stories and experiences that a tour guide can talk about on a live virtual tour can be about friendships, student bonds and interactions on campus,. This will help first-gen students see what college life is really like.

3. An better understanding of the application process

The college application process is notoriously complicated and can be confusing for anyone, but it can be especially daunting for first-generation students who don't have anyone to guide them through it.

A live virtual tour can easily help alleviate at least some of these feelings of fear or confusion by making the college admissions process more personal. Students should be able to see if it feels like a good fit for them. Live virtual tours that include information about the admissions process will help these students understand exactly what they need to do to apply to college. The tour guide should answer questions related to each step and refer the visitors to helpful links with resources.

4. An awareness of financial aid options

For many first-generation college students, the most significant barrier to attending college is the cost. Make sure that your tour includes information about financial aid and scholarships, as this will be one of the biggest concerns for these students.

By providing this information on a guided virtual tour and addressing their follow-up questions during the live interaction, you can help make the college application process less intimidating for first-generation students and increase your chances of attracting them to your school.

5. A look at the surrounding city or town

As we previously mentioned, it's important for first-gen students to get a sense of the campus culture and community before they join. The live virtual tour should include information about the culture and surrounding community: What is there to do off campus? What is the town or city like?

Presenting information about the surrounding city or town will help first-gen students get a better idea of what their new home will be like. Make sure to include local attractions, restaurants, and shops. You can easily build off campus tour stops and navigate during your event, showing pictures or 360 panoramics of the places. The tour guide might also want to include information about public transportation options and nearby parks or recreation areas in the live session. This can be a great way for first-gen students to get to know their new home and feel more comfortable with the transition to college life.

In conclusion

First-generation students can be a unique group of applicants for colleges and universities, they may have specific needs or questions that are not addressed by traditional admissions processes. They want to see that the college is committed to helping them succeed. They want to see resources and support services designed explicitly for them.

They also want information about financial aid and scholarships, as they may not have the same access to these resources as their more affluent peers.

Finally, first-generation college students want to see that the college is a welcoming and inclusive community where they will feel comfortable and be able to thrive.

For college recruitment, remember it's not only about what you communicate but how you communicate. Potential students who are first-generation college-goers need more information before making decisions. Help them feel confident in their choice by utilizing your content to tell your whole story.

With a live virtual tour, you can take the the content you already have and transform it into an immersive experience. This interactive connection allows students to understand crucial information they need to know about various aspects. The live virtual tour's chat feature can also be utilized to share pertinent links and follow-up information. Showing your unique perspective in a genuine way will help this generation of potential students feel welcome, more comfortable and motivated about attending your college.

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