4 Tips On How to Make Huge Virtual Strides with Underrepresented Students


Rachel Bean

   Written by Rachel Bean, Content Manager

   Published on May 20, 2020


It’s been a crazy and disruptive spring that has broadly catalyzed how colleges engage with students across the globe.  Moving to a virtual platform hasn’t been a choice — it’s been a necessity. Finding prospective students without them taking the typical standardized tests has been another obstacle this year. Academia is strong, and adaptable, and it’s worth taking a moment to congratulate everything colleges and universities have done to further connections to students in a hugely disconnected world. 

When it comes to bringing colleges and students together, both in-person and online, College Greenlight has a particular knack for putting together all-star college lineups and finding the right inquisitive, driven student prospects. One of the best things they do for the college access community is crowdsource information to make it more accessible to share with as many professionals as possible.  In the same vein, we wanted to share 4 recently tested and proven tips to help colleges improve virtual engagement and fly forward with success. 




1. Host a Party - who doesn’t love a party?

Powered by Appily, College Greenlight has been hosting events, moderating panels, and connecting interested parties for 7 years. Most recently, Greenlight held a College Block Party featuring:

- UC-Berkeley

- Colgate University

- Emory University

- Smith College

- Tufts University

- and Washington University in St. Louis. 

Of the 3,838 attendees, 2,964 of them were students, while the rest were parents, counselors, and a handful of other college officials. No fewer than 500 attended each institution’s hour-long session, which were filled with opportunities for students to participate, ask questions, and learn about the college process, both holistically and uniquely. 

The “secret” to this level of participation and attendance can partially be attributed to College Greenlight’s long enduring relationships with colleges, Community-Based Organizations, and the greater college access community, as well as their dedication (and connection) to underrepresented students. It can also be attributed to how these sessions are packaged. 

While there’s no universal answer to effectively supporting students virtually because every institution’s student body is unique, there are certain tenets that have proven true time and time again for our College Greenlight team.  




2. Clarify and Reinforce the Basics

With so much confusion surrounding whether to enroll in college or not, around financial means, and more, students are craving information — their feedback post-session corroborated as much. Even more than that, students created outside channels to continue the discussion on both Instagram and Dischord. 

Topics were varied and broad:

- Affording College: A Crash Course by Colgate University

- The Women’s College Advantage by Smith College

- Find Your College Fit by University of California Berkeley

- COVID-19 & Your College Application by Emory University

- How to Start Your Perfect College Essay by Washington University in St. Louis

-College Admissions 101 in Spanish by Tufts University

While institutions certainly took an opportunity to talk about their individual schools, the focus of the sessions was on topics applicable to many, which definitely drew high attendance. The lack of access to academic advisors and to teachers has lowered basic knowledge — students wanted basic information, like understanding financial aid, dispelling common myths, and what makes a college a research college. 

The college admissions process is challenging even when students have consistent access to school counseling. Without, it can leave massive gaps in basic knowledge, something that institutions will likely have to keep in mind for the following year, at least, as students continue their education from home with the continued lack of immediate access.




3. Convenience: Making it Easy to Attend

While juniors and seniors aren’t physically at school right now, most are still learning from home. Parents are working from home. Any time between 9 to 5 is a difficult block to reserve for the average household. 

In fact, in a survey of more 3,400 parents, the primary reason they hadn’t attended a virtual session with a college (after “I wasn’t invited”) was because of an inconvenient time. 

To remedy that requires some shifting office hours, but involving parents, who are the primary influencers in most teen’s college decisions, is crucial. 




4. Accessibility: Creating Bridges for the Underrepresented

Accessibility is an obstacle that College Greenlight faces every day, working hard to provide resources for underprivileged and underrepresented individuals. 

In partnership with Tufts University, they were able to host an all-Spanish session so that Spanish-speaking parents could be involved in their student’s college decision. Hearing about financial aid in Spanish was a crucial aspect of the presentation for many present — and very likely endeared students and their families to Tufts. 




Adapt - Overcome - Succeed

College Greenlight has been hosting virtual sessions with colleges for years, with one primary objective in mind: getting students to and through Day 1 at the college that’s right for them. 

Utilizing years of feedback on virtual events both from students, colleges, and counselors, Greenlight has grown and evolved, constantly pulse-checking to find what students need the most. Much like academia, joint research — virtual events held with partnering institutions — tends to yield the most rewarding results. 


If you’re interested in partnering with College Greenlight, contact one of our account representatives at [email protected]. If you’re already a Greenlight partner, talk to your representative about becoming a part of the next College Block Party!