At the annual Spring Open House, the largest on-campus event of the year, the University welcomed more than 4,000 visitors to the Keele campus April 5. It was an opportunity for prospective students and their families to explore life as a York student – from academics to campus life.
The Spring Open House is a key touch point in the University’s recruitment strategy. “The Spring Open House allows us to have one-on-one conversations with future students and their families,” says Amber Holliday, manager of Canadian recruitment and on-campus events. “Many students come with an offer in-hand, some are waiting for an offer decision – but most everyone is deciding whether York is the right fit for them.”
The agenda was packed with mock lectures, tours, specialized sessions, Faculty zones, a student services fair and more. The event saw several highlights this year, including the bus tour which showcased construction on campus. The 30-minute guided bus tour demonstrated all of the ways York is growing and changing – from the arrival of the subway on campus in 2016, to the Pan Am Stadium, to the future site of the Lassonde School of Engineering building.
“The bus tours were at capacity and a particular hit with students and their families,” says Holliday. The Admissions Zone was also busy all day, providing one-on-one admissions guidance. Experts answered questions, received documents and admitted more than 10 students on-the-spot.
A re-vamped social media strategy to increase traffic to the York website and online conversations about the event was a highlight this year. The campaign was highly visual, using photos and video to engage students on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Social media traffic increased by 52 per cent this year. This increase, combined with the print invitation to applicants in the L and M postal codes, contributed to an eight per cent increase in pre-event registration.
The day of the event also included a Sharypic social media component, which was first incorporated at Fall Campus Day in November 2013. Visitors were encouraged to take pictures of the event and upload them to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag YUOpenHouse. The photos were then printed and available for pick-up in the Vari Hall Rotunda. More than 350 photos were shared from more than 100 contributors, including visitors, Faculties, volunteers and clubs). Overall, the social media efforts resulted in an 86 per cent increase in online conversations around Spring Open House and more than doubled the use of hashtag #YUOpenHouse.
Spring Open House also saw the return of the Pretty Sweet cupcake truck, which was stationed outside of Vari Hall – a York success story. York Business & Society student, Savera Hashmi’s food truck served up free sweet treats to the first 1,500 visitors. York Food Services also served a healthy snack of a quinoa and lentil salad which was a hit with students and parents alike.
The event is possible in large part because of pan-University participation, collaboration and hundreds of student volunteers. “Our volunteer student ambassador team – and the dozens of students that volunteer through their Faculties and our campus partners, are a huge part of the day’s success,” says Holliday. Faculty reps, service partners, admissions experts, recruitment officers, staff, students, alumni, college deans, college masters and professors were all on-hand throughout the day.
The work doesn’t stop with Spring Open House. Recruitment officers and admissions staff continue to partner with Faculty colleagues, offer online admission advising appointments, hand-deliver scholarship offers to top applicants, make return visits to schools to talk about financial support, engage with prospective students on Facebook and Twitter, hold alumni mixers, Saturdays@York, and applicant and parent receptions in an effort to meet the University’s strategic enrollment management goals.
To view shared photos from the day, visit the Spring Open House SharyPic gallery.