Getting timely and accurate information out to students is imperative if the registration process is to go smoothly. One class can be the difference between graduating this semester or next. Understanding this, University Registrar Sallie Marchello and her team decided to add new tools to their communications arsenal this year. Their efforts are recognized in the November cover story of The Successful Registrar, a monthly trade publication.
“It’s the CNN version – information coming from all directions,” Marchello said, “whereas I like to watch PBS – information coming from one source. But we need to communicate the way the students communicate.”
Increasingly the “under 25” crowd communicates using social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. To reach the students in this demographic, the College’s registrar’s office employed an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy and created a Facebook page for their office.
“We decided to meet our students where they are – in cyberland,” Marchello said.
Marchello said they decided to make the changes “mainly because of confusion. The students don’t read, so they don’t know what the procedures are. We use to communicate by email alone, but we realized we needed multiple ways to reach the students.”
The Facebook page serves as a resource, providing students with information about deadlines and requirements. The site features most of the information presented on the offices official web site including upcoming events, deadlines, services and a staff directory.
She noted the office also created a video on how to register for classes and, in addition to their cyber efforts, is taking the information to the street by adding information stations in the student union and in heavily trafficked areas outside the registrar’s office.
Marchello added the multi-media approached coincided perfectly with the college-wide redesign of the William & Mary web site.
“I can’t take credit for any of these ideas, “Marchello said. “The video was the brainchild of a staff meeting and Assistant Registrar KimMomballou was the driving force behind the Facebook page.”
The idea of the Facebook page, Momballou said, was to make the office more “proactive than reactive” in getting information out to students.
The trade magazine applauded the site’s use of appealing visuals to convey information traditionally presented in text heavy formats.
Easier to find and clearer to use is definitely better in the world of registration, especially given the fact that freshmen register for their classes well before they arrive on campus for orientation, Marchello said.
The true test of the new approach, Marchello added, will come in time as the office is able to register students’ usage of the new tools.
“We hope that our “fan base” will grow,” she said, referencing Facebook lingo.
In the end it’s all about the students being aware of her office and knowing resources are available to them, Marchello said.
“When it’s time for a student to register, we want them to already have the information they need to complete the process, not have to come looking for it.”