Boosting global outreach

Boosting global outreach

How Northfield Mount Hermon School used PeerPal to engage international students

About Northfield Mount Hermon

Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) is a private boarding school established in 1879 and situated in Western Massachusetts. The school offers a multinational, multicultural atmosphere attracting students from 50 different countries who speak a variety of languages. NMH offers nearly 200 courses, including AP and honors classes in every discipline. It also offers its renowned “College-Model Academic Program” aimed at preparing students for college life.

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How Northfield Mount Hermon School used PeerPal to engage international students

Why “NMH Connect”?

The process of finding a suitable school for a child can be stressful, especially when considering sending the child to an overseas boarding school. NMH launched its ambassador platform, “NMH Connect,” powered by PeerPal from Gravyty to provide additional support for staff involved in nurturing and welcoming the next generation of families. While in-person ambassadorship, face-to-face meetings and live school tours remain important features of the school’s nurturing activities for prospective families, NMH Connect offers several advantages, especially when it comes to families from overseas. 

What the platform looks like

Visitors to NMH are treated to a colorful page showcasing a variety of parent/student ambassadors that they can browse through to find those they are most interested in speaking to.

Included information:

  • Picture—Color picture of the ambassador. Parent ambassadors often use this spot for a family picture which adds a nice touch. 
  • Bullet points—Outlining the main facts about each ambassador:
    • For student ambassadors, this includes where they are from, what grade they are in, and their interests e.g. sports, performing arts etc.
    • For parent ambassadors, this includes where they are from, languages spoken in the home, cultural/religious affiliations, and other interests.
  • Why NMH—A section explaining why they chose the school
  • The personal touch—Personal stories and other snippets of information the ambassador chooses to share. 
  • Connect here—Connect button where parents can reach out and set up a phone or video call or send an email.

Advantages of using PeerPal for ambassador outreach

Wider reach

PeerPal offered NMH a much broader reach for their initial outreach activities enabling them to connect deeply and meaningfully with overseas families whose concerns about whether an international boarding school was right for their child may have prevented them from making an in-person visit. PeerPal provided a way to speak authentically, allay fears and push those prospective families further along in their decision process. 

Greater authenticity

Authenticity is the order of the day in admissions. Parents respond better to authentic, first-person accounts from existing parents and students at the school than they do to getting information from those employed by the school. They also often ask more searching and personal questions of ambassadors than they would of the school staff. Often, it is these authentic interactions—and not the staff-led events—that facilitate final-mile decisions. 

Community feel

Parents and students are better able to convey the community spirit of the school and welcome newer families into the fold than staff members. 

Self-led exploration process

NMH Connect allowed the school to empower prospective families to find their own matches from a broad array of friendly and approachable ambassadors that reflect the entire cross-section of the school community.

Ease of use

The online platform is simply easier and more practical for parents to use. They can browse profiles in their own time, select multiple ambassadors to answer different lines of inquiry, and schedule meetings to take place at a convenient time. Time differences can be very difficult to navigate when dealing with overseas students but the online platform alleviated many of the issues.

Flexible communication style

PeerPal affords parents and ambassadors the ability to communicate in the way that best suits them. While some prefer phone calls, others like email, messaging or video call. In the initial connect request on PeerPal, users can state preferences and schedule meetings accordingly. 

Share what’s going on in the school

PeerPal offered a great way to share what’s happening on campus with both prospective and existing parents. Students often don’t tell parents everything that happens at school but with PeerPal, NMH was able to share photos and event reports whenever there was a significant event which allowed families to share in the dynamo and excitement of the school from afar. 

Efficient use of staff time

PeerPal enabled admissions staff to use their time more efficiently. Much of the burden of answering queries was shared with the ambassadors who were often better placed to provide the answers parents seek. PeerPal also reduced the need for travel and cut much of the burden of face-to-face meetings. While staff still need to do all those things there was much less pressure 

Get the full case study

How Northfield Mount Hermon School used PeerPal to engage international students

Guide to choosing ambassadors

Your PeerPal platform will only be as good as the ambassadors you select. Here are some pointers about ambassador selection from NMH:

A wide selection—Make sure that both your parent and student ambassadors showcase the full diversity of your school community in terms of background, nationality, languages, areas of interest, sporting affiliation, culture, religion and more. 

Parent ambassador selection—Many parents, especially those from overseas, want to get involved and can’t. The PeerPal platform is an ideal way to recruit enthusiastic parents who cannot help with on-site activities but still have much to contribute.

Student ambassador selection—It is not that hard to find students who want to represent the school that is giving them such a great experience, but make sure you tell them there is something in it for them too. Students who take ambassador roles gain a valuable opportunity to develop leadership and public speaking skills. 

Authenticity—Train your ambassadors to speak from an authentic standpoint rather than to say what they think the school wants them to say. The power of PeerPal lies in the authentic interaction it enables so make sure ambassadors are prepared to speak about their own personal experiences (and those of their children) rather than to offer general advice. 

Track metrics—PeerPal enables you to track metrics and see which ambassadors are active and which are underutilized. Use the data to guide your management activities and gently nudge less active members to get more involved. 

See how PeerPal from Gravyty helps you connect prospective students, employees, athletes and clients with a community of ambassadors willing to answer questions in real-time. Get a demo.

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