TargetX evaluates campus tours for effectiveness

  • Colleges around the country are looking for ways to improve their campus visit programs
  • One company is helping colleges do this by coming to their school and giving tour audits
  • Although the price can be steep, it seems that schools think it is well worth the cost

Colleges around the country are turning to outside resources to help liven their campus tours. One company is taking advantage of this need, introducing the "experience" into campus visit programs around the country.

Since 2006, colleges have hired TargetX's Experience Team to come to their campus and evaluate their campus visits.

The Experience team is composed of two men: Trent Gilbert, the Experience Evaluator, and Jeff Kallay, the Experience Evangelist. These two men help schools create customized solutions based on the wants and needs of those specific schools.

Gilbert explained why colleges are reaching out for their help.

"We have studies and statistics that show that really the most influential and impacting part of the high school students selection process is the visit to campus," Gilbert said. "So really, we're trying to get schools and colleges to think about that fact that they really need to be focusing and spending effort and resources on developing and putting on an incredible campus visit for prospective."

It is not just the campus tour that will be evaluated. Online registration processes, highway signage and signs approaching the parking lots and admissions buildings will be evaluated.

"We are getting the logistics of the tour," he said. "It is everything from the nuts and bolts of their signage to the tour guides telling stories and representing their prospective schools."

Kallay, who started the campus experience two years ago by himself with TargetX, has helped developed online improvement technology tools along with the campus visits. He believes the future will bring room for growth.

"A lot of what Trent and I do is we just have to get vice presidents and deans to rethink their budgets and their people," Kallay said. "We envision a future in about a year where we will have a couple private school teams and a public school team."

TargetX charges anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 for a campus visit. But with more than 100 schools already having enlisted the Experience Team's help, it is clear that some schools are willing to pay the price.

Jeff Frosch, the director of undergraduate admissions at Concordia University in Mequon, Wis., said TargetX was worth every penny.

"We found historically if we can bring a prospective student to the point to where they are willing to visit our campus, we have a very strong chance of having that student enroll at our place," Frosch said. "However, we recognize that there were certain things that we could do better with our campus visit experience."

Frosch explained that TargetX had come highly recommended, so they brought in Jeff Kallay who spent the entire day basically doing an audit of their campus.

"We had mailed him all of our pre-visit material, he signed up the way a traditional student would before a visit and took a couple of campus tours," he said. "We then sort of talked in the afternoon and he broke down what was good, what wasn't good, what we could do to improve and how we could do that."

This campus visit occurred in October 2007 and today Concordia is seeing the results.

"It was a very beneficial experience for us," he said. "At this point we have seen a 60 percent increase in our visit volume."

Nancy Peterson, an admissions counselor at Agnes Scott College in Texas said that although they already had a proven visiting program, they felt there was always room for improvement.

"With us, they met with our admission staff and our volunteers," Peterson said. "(Kallay) actually came to campus twice. He came once and volunteered to come back a second time which we really appreciated."

Peterson said Kallay went on the tours and used more than his firsthand knowledge. He also used many interactive methods like YouTube videos from other schools and provided a lot of feedback, she said.

"The one thing he pushed was getting more personal storytelling and more interaction with families and we have seen them improve that," she said. "We have seen a big change this year."