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SNHU’s Big Summer Road Trip
 
Published Monday, November 11, 2013
by KAYCEE GNATOWSKI

Southern NH University has 20,000 students spread across the country and the world, so staff and faculty took a road trip this summer, primarily to meet in person with students  who until now were a name, email and IP address.

The “See Yourself Succeed” tour—a 6-week, 8,000-mile tour in a vibrant blue and yellow painted bus—allowed SNHU to connect with its students in their hometowns. Run by the College of Online and Continuing Education, the purpose of the tour was to hear about students’ experiences, celebrate their successes and learn how SNHU’s online programs can do a better job. The school invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into the tour, says SNHU’s online CEO Stephen Hodownes, a cost similar to other marketing campaigns.

SNHU was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2012 by Fast Company and has doubled its online enrollment in the last few years. Yet it took a decidedly old school approach to connecting with students. “It is most economically sensible to use a bus and we could meet students every day,” says Seth Odell, director of Interactive Marketing at SNHU. Between eight and 12 faculty and staff members manned the bus at any one time. The See Yourself Succeed tour took off July 15 and visited hundreds of students in 30 states and 27 cities including New York, Denver, San Diego, Jacksonville, and Dallas. Students interested in a meeting submitted a request online.

SNHU took advantage of social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. The bus, decorated with a map of the United States scattered with stars to mark student locations, also had the logo “follow us #SeeYourselfSucceed.”

Faculty and staff traveled by bus to meet with students at their homes, in cafes and in parks, among other spots.Odell says six students met their favorite professor in person, and 17 students received hand-delivered diplomas. SNHU posted photos and a trip blog online. Odell says staff members conceived of the tour to bridge the gap between online students and faculty, who meet virtually, but never in person.

The bus crew met with individual students most days, and also held three larger student mixers in Dallas; Tampa, Florida; and Los Angeles. To learn more, visit www.succeed.snhu.edu.

Gnatowski is of the Young Reporter’s Project, a partnership between Business NH Magazine and Southern NH University.

 


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