Case Study: Portland State University, MBA Program
Student Ambassador Program
Portland State's MBA program has used PeerPoint for several years to harness the power of student ambassadors and increase enrollment. With the university located right in our backyard of beautiful Portland, OR, we thought we'd sit down and talk with them about how putting student ambassadors online has helped them grow their enrollment and connect students. Below you'll find five different perspectives on the value of PeerPoint, from the executive level all the way to the prospective student.
Pamela Duschee, Executive Director of Graduate Business Programs, says that “having students directly message ambassadors through PeerPoint has increased enrollment; the software has proved extremely successful in converting inquiries into enrolled students." She explains that student ambassadors are a great resource for recruiting in person at events like open houses, campus tours, or career fairs, and now PeerPoint allows student ambassadors to connect with prospective students who might not be able to attend these events or simply want to connect online with a student to get their questions answered. “Nothing sells a program better than a current student in the program” says Pamela. “If PeerPoint secures one student enrollment per year, it has already paid for itself.”
David, a part-time MBA student at PSU, says that communicating with student ambassadors online was an integral piece for him in deciding where to pursue his education. “For me, my questions about the admissions process, application requirements, etc. were answered through the admissions office. Once I figured those things out, I wanted to know, from a student, what life was like in the MBA program. Especially as a part-time student working full-time, I wanted to hear about work-life balance, networking opportunities, and other extracurricular activities that the program offered. I wanted to know if the program was as good as it said it was. Those questions were answered with confidence from the student ambassadors I connected with."
David had such a positive experience with PeerPoint that he applied to be a student ambassador during his first term on campus. “Deciding to apply for graduate school was one of the most daunting decisions I have made in my career. To have the opportunity to speak virtually with a student ambassador gave me the assurance that I was making the right decision. I can honestly say that I would not be in graduate school today had I not had spoken with a student ambassador. It is for that reason alone that I decided to become a student ambassador myself - to pay it forward and help others make one of the greatest decisions they will make in their life.”
Kelly is a current student ambassador using PeerPoint to connect with prospective students. Kelly says that PeerPoint has given her a multi-dimensional experience with graduate school and helped with her engagement. Because PeerPoint allows administrators to throttle email volume, student ambassadors do not receive as many inquiries as admissions officers. The messages they do receive are from prospective students who want to hear about student life from an actual student rather than a brochure. Kelly says that “helping people connect with resources is something I enjoy; PeerPoint allows me to be accessible to students who want the inside scoop.” As a full-time graduate student, Kelly finds that PeerPoint helps her be more efficient and reach more people.
For a prospective international student to connect with other international students through PeerPoint has proved invaluable to the program. Megha Verma says that communicating with international student ambassadors was especially important to her. “I feel that it really matters to us if we find or do not find other international students who represent diversity." For Megha, being able to connect with an international student ambassador through PeerPoint was a deciding factor in her enrollment at PSU. “It made a big difference. I suddenly felt that this will be a good place to be. I felt that PSU respects, cares and gives equal opportunity to international students by helping to connect me with other international students. It made a really positive impression."
student ambassador director
Kate Rood, a former student ambassador and current Director of the Student Ambassador Program, says that confidence and trust in their student ambassadors makes it easy for her to delegate online communication with prospective students. When student ambassadors are asked admissions-specific questions, they immediately direct those questions to the admissions office. At PSU, the student ambassadors answer questions about student life, workload, classroom experience and culture at the university. Kate says that “hearing from MBA students in their interviews that they’ve created personal connections through PeerPoint means that the program is working.” Kate expressed confidence in her student ambassadors in representing PSU’s brand consistently and positively. The time commitment for student ambassadors has been about 4-5 hours per term, including a one-hour training and onboarding session.
Student ambassadors are being utilized at universities across the country in a multitude of ways such as connecting with alumni, communities, and prospective students through open houses, campus visits and forums. Now, PeerPoint helps talented student ambassadors reach even further, connecting them to prospective students through university websites. Hopefully case studies like this help schools learn from each other as we try our best to showcase leaders in recruitment and student ambassador programs.