From marketing efforts to texting prospective students to letting their reputation speak for itself, there are lots of different ways educational organisations can attract new students. Now, there’s a new way they can target international students after StudyAdvantage Group announced the launch of its first venture – an online storytelling platform for international students. The platform, freely accessible at StudyAdvantage.co, features inspiring stories from students at top universities abroad, for the benefit of prospective students.
Douglas Hallstrom, co-founder of StudyAdvantage, said: “Everyone involved with StudyAdvantage has personally gone through the process of applying to and choosing a university abroad. We all found that the missing ingredient in this process, much of which takes place online, was current students’ own and unbiased stories of life at their universities. That’s what inspired us to create StudyAdvantage.”
The platform is launching with over 50 student bloggers at universities like Yale, Columbia, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, LSE and SciencesPo.
The student blogs are complemented by editorial content in the StudyAdvantage online magazine, a university database, and application guides adapted to international applicants. The platform is principally marketed to high school students around the world, but Douglas comments, “Our content is unique, so it also attracts visitors with a broader interest in global education, including parents, teachers and alumni.”
The student blogs contain a motley mix of education, lifestyle, and personal reflections.
Singaporean Azfer Khan, a first year student at Cambridge, reflects on his studies in a recent blog post: “Law isn’t a fairy tale we lawyers use to mystify the world around us, it isn’t the textbook we use when revising for our supervisions, and it definitely isn’t what my mother thinks it is (her words)…”
Ghanaian third year student at Yale, Nana Akua Mensah, describes a recent opportunity to meet idol Taiye Selasi on campus: “Just over a week ago, I had the biggest moment of groupie fandom in my recent history… She walked in and was everything I had hoped she would be.”
Douglas argues that it is these types of stories which really inspire prospective students. He says: “Research shows that authentic stories and testimonials from current and recent students is the most powerful type of content for influencing prospective students’ educational choices. Peer-to-peer really works.”
StudyAdvantage will enable universities to use the portal as a brand-building channel towards international students, capturing the significant commercial value in the student-generated content and the growing audience of prospective international students using the platform. Douglas also comments that he is hugely driven by the social value in promoting global education: “Especially in today’s political environment, when protectionist undertones are gaining mindshare, I believe it is very important to continue to encourage global education for young, ambitious people.”
With its growing audience and strong backing, StudyAdvantage may well help achieve this objective.