Goodbye High School, Hello Welcome Kit

Springtime is more than a season of new beginnings. For those completing high school, it’s the season of gowns, tassels, and warm cheese at graduation parties.  As the class of 2016 leaves high school behind with literal ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ college becomes the next new frontier. Things just got real, so to speak. The excitement of getting accepted to a university might be slowly replaced with fear of the unknown. After all, for many kids, this is the first time they’ve left home for a sustained period of time. They might not know anybody, and they’ve just said goodbye to the friends and classmates with whom their entire social circle has comprised of up to this point. This is the perfect time for the freshman student experience folks to kick in, and send the welcome kit.

welcome kit from the University of NebraskaWhat’s a welcome kit?

Glad you asked. A welcome kit is the introduction to the institution. It might be sent all at one time, like opening a giant, college-themed gift, or it adopt a more just-in-time model where accepted students learn more gradually, and at times which it makes sense to perform actions like completing the FAFSA, registering for classes, things like that. However, while the materials should be helpful and informative, they should also impart the core values of the institution.

 

In this example (recently created for the University of Nebraska – Omaha), newly-accepted students received a small, pocket sized folder, welcoming them to the institution. Note that it identifies them as a student by associating them with the university’s mascot and iconic red and black. The die cut cavity inside is a key-shaped USB drive. On the USB drive are materials that might have formerly been printed out. A new student guide, checklist, things that previously cost the institution a pretty penny in paper, ink and postage, now condensed into a keepsake package.

gp-front-back

welcome kit from the University of Nebraska

This folder kit not allows the institution to save money (and not a few trees in reducing paper), but also helps guide the new Maverick a bit more. By placing materials on the USB drive, you can highlight certain things digitally where, in paper, it wouldn’t be possible. As the incoming class are also digital natives, this way of accessing information is more natural to them. It also provides the institution the opportunity to share things with the student in a way that meets their preferred learning style: reading, listening, and/or watching.

Some might feel like the tangible element of receiving a packet in the mail is lost, and that valuable real estate for information-sharing is cut down. I would counter that argument by looking at how Nebraska optimized the back of the folder kit with all the different ways to keep in touch with the institution (social channels figure prominently).  The design is done in such a way to enhance the presentation of the package, and not detract from it. Sunrise takes pride in crafting a box design that fits the needs of the customer.  This style–a trifold–could hold a variety of things.  Coins, gift cards, USBs are just the tip of the iceberg.

And isn’t that what going to the university should be – just the tip of the iceberg?

Library Opens Learning Commons

The Randall Library at the University of North Carolina Wilmington is taking an innovative approach to being a valuable resource for students in the digital age. They recently introduced their “Learning commons“, a designated area in the library that encourages technology-based research and takes the “shhh” out of the traditional library setting.

When walking through the main entrance, it’s easy to identify the learning commons. The area is freshly painted with bright colors and modern cubicles that feature desktop or laptop stations. The room also has a help desk that is staffed 65 hours per week by reference librarians and staff who work in technical assistance.

Students are encouraged to come in groups, plug in their computers, iPods, or other tech devices, and learn about technology. While the entire 2nd floor of the Randall library is reserved for peace and quiet, study groups in the learning commons can talk freely without fear of a staff member shushing them. Students also like the space that the room provides so they can still have their privacy.

Before the makeover, the space was outdated but the new learning commons now boast more than 300 power outlets and 91 computers catering to the digital age that some libraries are having a tough time adjusting to. Students can also check out 50 PC laptops and 14 Mac laptops.

It is no coincidence that students are giving good feedback about the learning commons. The project began as a series of surveys asking students what they wanted and needed out of a library studying area. Listening has been the true key to success. The concept is ongoing too. Collaborating with the students will not stop as the feedback from the students will help evolve the learning commons in the future. The area is designed to change with technology and student’s needs.

Social Media Addiction


In a recent blog post, we shared some very interesting stats about the growth of social media use. Taking it a step further, we look at a study conducted by the University of Maryland’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda. The study, “24 Hours: Unplugged”, took 200 students and stripped them from social media for 24 hours. That meant no iPhones, texting, laptops, twittering, Facebook, and email. Some of you are shaking right now…

By reading the blogs from some of the students, not only was being “unplugged” a challenge: it was traumatic! The study reported that a few descriptions from the student’s experience were documented over and over: “In withdrawl”, “Frantically craving”, “Very anxious”, “Extremely antsy”, “Miserable”, “Jittery”, “Crazy”.

One student’s post read: “I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening”. Another one said: “I noticed physically, that I began to fidget, as if I was addicted to my iPod and other media devices”.

American college students struggle to function without their media connection to the world. Some students even failed to go 24 hours. While trying to avoid new technology and blaring TVs, the students found themselves surrounded by them regardless. Many students noted how it was “boring” to walk around without an mp3 player providing a soundtrack for their ears. When cut off from social media, many students felt cut off from other humans like they were living in isolation. The research also found that the friendships and relationships of these 18-21 year olds were dependent on technology.

Many students had been appalled when the assignment was announced.  They were skeptical about the purpose and even fearful about going without media for such a “long” period of time.  Many students admitted that they had had doubts from the beginning about their ability to complete the assignment — and those students who didn’t manage to go the entire 24 hours noted that they weren’t surprised by their failure to do so.

So what does this study remind us about business? Marketers and advertisers looking to increase brand awareness and loyalty, should strongly consider social media use. Having a better understanding of each social media method and how consumers use each service will result in providing more appealing content that will engage one’s target market in an effective and ongoing manner.

More info:

Student’s blog: A Day Without Media