Guest post! The value of Information Sessions for lifelong learning

Thu, Sep 20,2012 @ 09:47 AM
by Suzanne Kart |

continuing educationAn information session is an invaluable tool used to recruit potential prospects into your career or certificate programs.  Offering a free information session in advance of class start dates will allow interested individuals the opportunity to explore course offerings and the curriculum, learn more about potential career paths, meet instructors, tour the campus, and ask questions that will help them to make a good decision about their future.

Information sessions are usually planned well in advance of the actual event and published in your catalog near or around the program areas in which you will offer a session.  Sessions can last anywhere from one to three hours depending on the depth of the program and how you choose to format your session.

Outside of the session being in your catalog, it is important to market the event in as many areas as possible.  I highly recommend the following activities to help promote and spread the word: press release to local and regional media (look further than your own back yard), place on your campus cable network and any marquees, create posters and flyers to place in high traffic areas both on and off campus, add a blurb to your program landing page on your website,  sandwich board signs near student center, create an email signature for those employees in your department, table tents for cafeteria, post to your social sites including Facebook and Twitter multiple times before the event to create awareness, and lastly post to other non-institutional sites like Craigslist, AOL’s Patch, chamber sites, etc.

Additionally, when promoting your programs it helps to include relevant stats on salary, employment outlook, as well as information on local employers and their needs.  For instance, here is an excerpt from Schoolcraft College’s promotional materials which helps pique interest:

The increased number in the middle-aged and elderly populations has generated a large demand for more Pharmacy Technicians. The outlook for Pharmacy Technicians is very good as the growth rate between 2009-2016 is expected to be around 18.12% with hospitals and merchant wholesalers anticipating the biggest demand.

Lastly, it is important to have a sign-in sheet to capture attendee information so you can follow-up with these folks via email, direct mail or phone.  It is important to make contact with attendees within 24-48 hours of the session to make sure everyone has all the information they need as well as to drive a sense of urgency so your prospects become students.

Lauren Smith works in the continuing education department at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, MI

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