Move-in day is among the most important events in a new college student’s life. In fact, creating a less stressful and more engaging day can make all the difference in how your incoming students will adjust and transition to college life. Ultimately, this can shape retention and help your students graduate at higher rates. But it’s not just about the day itself. In fact, in many ways, your move-in day follow-up can make nearly as much of a difference.
Sure, even the best follow-up matters little if the experience itself was not up to par. But when the event and its follow-up align perfectly, your chances of creating an engaged and motivated student body among your first-year class increase dramatically.
To get there, you have to get the follow-up just right. These tips can help.
1. Familiarize Your Students With Each Other
First, and perhaps most importantly, it’s time to start building community for your students. Research consistently shows that this community matters. In fact, students who feel like they belong in the college community they’ve joined are more likely to retain after their first year and graduate in four years.
For your move-in day follow-up, in particular, that means providing students with the opportunities to connect. Let them know about student hangout spots and events. The easier it is for them to find ways and places to connect with others, the more successful they’ll be.
2. Clearly Communicate Helpful Resources
Even as you focus on community, there is little doubt that immediately following their move-in experience, your new students will be nervous. For most of them, this is the biggest adventure of their lifetime. They might feel stressed or overwhelmed or just need someone to talk to.
That leads us to the second helpful move-in day follow-up: clear and concise information about the resources you offer. Through fridge magnets, fliers, and digital communication, provide information like a helpline, your counseling center, and more. Even if they never use it, knowing that help is there if they need it can go a long way toward helping your students feel safe and in good hands.
3. Use Your Students’ Preferred Channels
There’s no doubt that Gen Z, which makes up the vast majority of today’s incoming college students, communicates in different ways than the generations that came before it. Plan your follow-ups around these preferences to maximize the effectiveness of your messaging.
That might mean a heavier focus on texting and social media. But don’t forget about in-person communications like RA meetings, which are especially important to this age group. When in doubt, create a simple move-in day follow-up asking your students how they want to get information. Then use those insights to plan your communications.
4. Be Ready to Help With Housing and Dining Logistics
Your incoming class has yet to learn about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but chances are they’ll nonetheless abide by it. Questions about where to eat, when it’s open, how to use their meal plan, and what to do if their toilet clogs seem basic. But proactive answers can give your students the peace of mind they need to focus on their higher-level needs.
Here, a helpline for housing and dining can be immensely successful. It might be in the form of an SMS-based chatbot your new class can text whenever they have a question, with a housing and dining staff member on the other side. The questions will come; it’s just a matter of being ready to answer quickly and accurately.
5. Help Your Students Get Comfortable on Campus
Finally, in the time between moving in and starting classes, your new students will likely begin to get nervous. This is, after all, an entirely new space they’re unfamiliar with.
You can’t completely alleviate this concern, but you can minimize it. Help your new first-year students understand the campus footprint and where to find the buildings and rooms they’ll need to go to. Then you’ll be surprised by how much more confident they’ll be as they make their way to their first class.
Here, interactive campus maps can play a major role. Used as a move-in day follow-up, they can give your incoming students a firm idea of where to find what, even adding walking directions.
That’s where we come in, with an interactive map solution specifically designed for higher education. Ready to learn more? Contact us to get started today.