Staying relevant to today’s students

Staying relevant to today’s students

Joe Burrows
23rd November 2017

It can be hard to get students to listen. It can be harder getting them to care. Engaging students in a world saturated with more distractions than ever before is a challenge in itself, so what can we do to stay relevant to them? How can we ensure that our communication to students is heard?

The answer to that changes year on year. For example, in the grand scheme of things smart phones are still a relatively new phenomenon. Having a device in your pocket that can connect you to your friends in any number of ways could be seen as a major distraction, or it could be utilised as an effective tool to communicate with students. It’s all about adapting to the current “norm” that students live day in, day out. Someone who graduated this year will most likely have a totally different university experience than someone who is just starting this same year.

My job mostly involves creating video content that engages students. However I know that my own uni experience is increasingly more irrelevant as a source of inspiration for the content I produce (Instagram wasn’t even a thing back then!). So one way in which I’ve tried to combat this irrelevancy is by investing in our internship scheme at Campuslife.

It’s almost a no brainer. We can get students to come in and work with us on content that’s aimed at them and their peers. There’s no training needed in order for them to give us their honest opinions and feedback on what we’re making. We develop new ideas and videos all the time, and if we can explain to universities that these ideas have been developed off the back of what students have been telling us, then that only serves to make those ideas more credible.

We currently have a student coming in part time for work experience. She’s been great at analysing our ideas and projects, and (very politely!) informing us where we can improve. We’re also advertising placements with local universities and we’ve already had some enthusiastic responses.

Recently myself and one of my colleagues went to give a seminar at a local university, to engage with students who might be interested in working with us. We wanted to explain to them that their career options after university were much more vast than what they might be thinking, and we advised them on what they can be doing now to increase their chances of getting the job they wanted.

The feedback we had was great, and it was really gratifying to know that a lot of what we had to say was still relevant and helpful for students. We spent a long time developing our presentation beforehand, and being able to identify what the students could relate to was the key that made it a success.

We are a student communication specialist, and we should encourage students to communicate with us just as much as we communicate with them. Students want to get involved, and hopefully they’ll help us stay relevant with an ever changing student population.