The peer recruitment landscape is rapidly changing as schools are experimenting with many different types of ambassador programs and tools to facilitate their success. While everyone has a different approach, we've identified some key ways to make your student ambassador program thrive in 2017:
1. Get Out Of Their Way
Whether you like it or not, students are moving at a much faster pace than your institution. The amount of communication exchanged between them dwarfs the memos and emails being sent through your offices. And everything is instantaneous.
Many times what might seem like a lack of interest or motivation is often a feeling of being slowed down. You can be the fastest sprinter in the world, but if you're only allowed to walk in your race, you're going to have a hard time getting motivated.
Find the true student leaders and let them run as fast as they can. Limit the amount of red tape and let them experiment creatively with their duties. Set clear goals and then let them figure out how their skills can uniquely reach them.
2. Provide The Tools They Need
Giving a student a postcard to send to a prospect after a tour is nice, but it's also a little like asking that same sprinter to run with sandals. How do 18 year-olds communicate? Do you think any of them have ever sent a postcard on their own?
Give your ambassadors cell phones and social media accounts and let them take off. Clear branding guidelines and communication outlines are simple to establish upfront and as long as they stay within those parameters, let them do what they do best -- exchange information. Quickly.
3. Reward Success
A common problem with managers is that they reward their teams based on the metrics they themselves have set. What works best, especially with students, is letting workers set their own goals. And when they reach those goals, clearly acknowledging their success. Volunteer ambassadors are working for your school because they love it, which deserves regular recognition. Paid ambassadors, or at least the ones you want on your team, aren't doing it for the money, either. They feel the same way. And need some the same recognition.
Showcase your ambassadors on social media. Have them vote for the most outstanding student from their group each month. Treat them to pizza parties when goals are met. They are your voice and deserve constant praise.
4. Shout About Them
Your ambassadors should be front and center of all of your outreach. Many schools put a picture of their president and his/her bio on their homepage. What's the message they're sending and how will that attract high school students?
Don't keep your talented student ambassadors hidden as on-campus tour guides. Get them on your homepage, in your email blasts, in your social media, and every other digital communication you send out. High school students want to hear from them more than your administrators, who they will likely never interact with as a student.
5. Sometimes It's Not A Good Fit
None of us have a perfect hiring track record and we're going to make mistakes. This doesn't mean the student is a bad person, it just means it's not a good fit. Hiring a student shouldn't mean you're bound forever.
Experiment with trial periods. And if things aren't working out, replace ambassadors quickly. It does everyone a favor -- the student, you, and prospective students.