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Guest blog: Pearson College London's new normal

Author: Emma Devlin

Continuing our series of guest blogs reflecting on the new normal for student recruitment professionals, Emma Devlin tells us how Pearson College London has jumped the hurdles laid out by Covid-19 to finally reach the enrolment finishing line.

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Pearson College London was founded in 2012 and is part of FTSE 100 company, Pearson. We pride ourselves in providing education powered by industry experience. We’ve been working with TAP since 2017, when they were starting up and worked here at the College as one of our start-ups in residence; we’ve enjoyed seeing them grow ever since!

Check out Pearson College London's TAP Page

Recruiting for our September 2020 intake was a huge challenge as I’m sure most other institutions will agree.

To support prospective students through their decision-making process, we rapidly jumped over the first Covid-19 hurdle. Our agile mode enabled us to pivot between different environments, including switching to online Open Days and Taster Days, and using supportive messaging throughout our communications. Linking to our Student Ambassador TAP profiles was a key element to this, allowing prospective students to reach out to our student community to seek advice about the potential impacts of studying online.

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Not only did we have to adapt our Student Recruitment strategies, we also had to ensure satisfaction of our current students. At Pearson College London we, like many other institutions, adopted a blended learning approach, offering part face-to-face and part online teaching to offer an effective teaching experience.

When working with our TAP Ambassadors it became clear that our students were impressed with our online transition and the updates and changes we had to quickly make.  We particularly valued the use of TAP’s FAQ feature to gather quotes from our students that we shared across social media as part of our April Student Takeover.

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Our Student Takeovers are an integral part of our marketing activities as a way of sharing the authentic student voice across our social media and communications. We run three different takeovers at key touchpoints throughout the year, and work with our TAP Ambassadors to get a range of content to give insights into our courses and student life.

However, for our April Student Takeover and other Student Recruitment communications, one of our biggest hurdles was attracting students with the uncertainty of Covid-19 and our blended learning approach. Our insights team were working hard to get a feel for the landscape and what the top concerns would be for our Gen Z target market. One of the top areas of concern seemed to be around Freshers Week and student life.

To address these concerns, our Student Experience Team planned a fantastic Freshers Week despite the circumstances, including socially distanced campus mini golf, virtual game nights and much more.

The build-up to finally enrolling our new September 2020 cohort was tense, with staff waiting with bated breath to see the final numbers against our targets. However, this year over any other, it was not just about targets, KPIs and numbers, as more than ever we felt connected to the student journey as we crossed the finish line with them, sharing the same relief and excitement in getting them to their first day at the College.

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To top off the successes of the cycle, we received great feedback in blogs from our new students who started their studies during the global pandemic. After their first few weeks, they had settled in well - despite some of them moving to a new city, meeting new people virtually and adjusting to blended learning. It was an amazing feeling as we jumped over the final hurdle to hear that our hard work had paid off!

Emma Devlin works in the Conversion Marketing Team at Pearson College London where she supports various activities such as the management of their TAP platform, content creation for their blog and social media pages and marketing of their Taster Days.

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