By Liberty Kontranowski
Photos By Hollie Smith

College visitations: They’re one of the most important factors when considering where a student will spend their next four years (and theirs or their parents’ hard-earned money).

In addition to a school’s programs of study, internship opportunities, and career placement statistics, campus visits are an important tool for a college in securing applications for enrollment. Ensuring that a student remembers all they’ve seen and heard during a visit – and then takes action and actually applies for admission to the school – is key. That’s why it’s imperative that a college’s marketing materials support the school’s brand and identity.

When the school in question is a private liberal arts college based in a small Michigan town, rising up in the crowded higher education space is doubly important. Yes, its campus may wow. And, yes, it may have student-life opportunities aplenty, but unless the student is left with the full picture – and the feeling that they are truly valued and welcomed at the school – the rest of the college’s selling points don’t carry as much weight.

The Background
Adrian College, located in the southeast Michigan town of Adrian, has always been dedicated to providing each of its students with a highly personalized experience. This begins the moment a student sets a visit appointment and carries through to graduation and beyond. And that personalization trickles into everything the student touches, including the print materials given to visitors to the picturesque campus.

With beautiful grounds, small class sizes, and a highly trained and accommodating staff, the Adrian “experience” is what makes this 2017-2018 national College of Distinction stand out from the crowd. Ensuring that all marketing materials support that vision and commitment is an ongoing priority.

The Problem
A college campus visit can be overwhelming for a student. Thoughts like “Will I like the professors? Will the classes and extracurricular activities be what I’m hoping for? Is the food and good?” dominate their thoughts as they weave through classrooms, dining halls, and housing options. So keeping the student and their family as comfortable – and confident – as possible makes for a better overall visit.

When Adrian College’s marketing department recognized that students were juggling multiple print handouts while simultaneously trying to take in all the sights and information tour guides were sharing, they decided it was time to revamp their visit materials. Hollie Smith, the college’s graphic designer and marketing communications specialist, put on her creativity hat and brainstormed ways to turn several print pieces into a cohesive, easy-to-manage collection that seamlessly supported the student tours.

The Solution
Considering how to bundle financial aid information, campus maps, and the application for admission resulted in the re-creation of the visit book – one comprehensive print piece that contains all the information a prospective student needs.

Adrian College then enlisted the services of The F.P. Horak Company, a print and marketing solutions provider based in Saginaw, Michigan, to produce the book, as well as consult on interesting design and printing techniques that would be a direct reflection of the personalized experience for which the college is known.

With eye-catching visuals like original photos of current students taken by the college’s marketing team and fun extras like a pocket folder to stash loose items, the re-created visit book began to take shape. The book is laid out with a journey/destination theme to help the students subconsciously envision themselves walking through their college experience. It’s made with uncoated cover stock for durability, is wire-bound so it can be laid flat, and is both classy and utilitarian. Additionally, it can be imprinted with the student’s name for even more personalization. In short, it’s a modern piece that’s functional and has loads of student appeal.

The Results
With the introduction of the new visit book, student engagement is on the rise and the printed marketing tool is doing exactly what it was intended to: grabbing more interest – and more applications.

“Campus visits are a crucial part of our recruitment process,” says Erin M. DeSmet, Adrian College’s executive director for enrollment and marketing. “The new visit books have had a positive impact on the campus visit experience, resulting in greater participant satisfaction. The personal touches in the visit book, such as the customizable cover and campus map, demonstrate Adrian College’s commitment to the individual student.”

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