Winning Through Customer Experience: How to Create Successful Campus Visits (With or Without the Campus)

A prospective student’s visit to campus (particularly when accompanied by family and friends) has long been the indicator of ultimate engagement. Campus visitors yield at substantially higher rates than those who do not visit. Most of our clients report yield rates of admitted students who have visited at more than twice the rate of the national average yield rate of under 20 percent. The experience of seeing campus first-hand can be the most convincing of your efforts to enroll a student. In our interviews with students, it’s common for us to hear expressions like “when I stepped into the quad, I knew this was the campus for me.”

Though strong efforts in marketing and communications to promote campus visits prevail, we continue to hear reports of declining numbers of prospects availing themselves of opportunities to visit campuses. You may be experiencing some reduction in campus visitors as well, and you may be concerned about that trend. First, remember that there are simply fewer high school students and, with few exceptional states, each of the next 20 years will see fewer students. Second, most high schools follow rigid calendars that make it difficult for students to find days to visit. Many schools identify specific visit days or limit the allocation of excused absences for college visits. Third, given advances in technology, the cost of travelling may lead families to be satisfied with a visit to your website rather than your campus.

Nonetheless, the experience of actually visiting campus—sitting in on a class, visiting with students or faculty members, touring the buildings, checking out the residence halls and dining options, making friends, sensing your school’s ambient character and warmth—serves as an unparalleled encounter to aid in decision-making. Campus visits and events work to overcome fears, answer lingering questions, provide proof points, build and enhance relationships and verify your claims and promises.

In this paper, we offer several recommendations that will help you plan for remarkable visit experiences on and off campus.


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Rick Bailey

Rick is the Principal and founding partner at RHB.