There isn't a more powerful recruiting tool for universities than their own students. Everyone in admissions will boast that word-of-mouth is where most of their leads come from, but it's been difficult to harness this social power until recently.
First came student-led campus tours, which at the time must have been revolutionary. Allowing students to spend time alone with prospects and their parents was a novel concept. I mean, who knows what they might say when there isn't a disciplinarian there to listen!
Then social media came along and opened new doors. It was pretty clear early on that administrators didn't relate as well to high school students on Facebook or Instagram. So they gave students a shot. And while it sometimes didn't make sense and students didn't use the exact language approved by the communication office, they were able to successfully build relationships with prospects online.
This social media breakthrough brought the next wave of innovation -- students messaging prospects. To some this seems like a risky proposition. Communication is sent through the internet with a record of its existence. And you don't have the built-in social security of a Facebook page where comments can be monitored. You just have to trust your students. The ones you have vetted and hired and trained and work with.
So what happens when schools let their students loose to communicate freely? Often it looks just like the above interaction. Question, answer, appreciation. A unique appreciation that might not be available with other schools. At least for now.
Student-to-student messaging is the future of recruitment for universities, and the schools who embrace it will reap huge benefits.