October 5, 2000
Word of mouth is a powerful marketer. It helps people decide what video to rent on a Friday night or what restaurant to visit for lunch. The concept also is behind an innovative program at Calvin College.
Calvin's "Admissions Ambassadors" program is built around a team of three Calvin students who visit West Michigan high schools each year in the month of October to meet students and answer questions about Calvin.
This year the team is Brooke Miller, Rohit Kapuria and Stephanie Vizdos (left to right in the picture above).
Each Ambassador is assigned some 50 local high schools; each also attends a half dozen or so college fairs as Calvin's representative. The Ambassadors do all of the planning and scheduling of their visits.
"With some of these schools, hardly any (college recruiters)even come in," says Calvin's Rosemary Etter, the founder and director of the Admissions Ambassadors program. "It's very nice for them to have someone actually sit down and say hi."
Ambassadors - who spend the month of September training and preparing for their visits -- talk with both counselors and students while visiting the high schools. Because of the closeness in age, students often feel more comfortable talking with Ambassadors than with traditional admissions counselors.
The Ambassadors also make sure Calvin admissions materials at high schools are stocked and organized. Many Ambassadors, though not all, are CAS or Business-Marketing majors and receive internship credit for the program. Through training sessions and on-the-job experience, Ambassadors learn how to manage time, make efficient travel schedules and do a lot of quick thinking. Ambassadors get a rush out of making on-the-spot decisions and successfully executing their plans. Many love the job so much that they stay on in the Admission's department after the Ambassador program ends in November.
"It's a great opportunity to learn about public relations and marketing," says Miller, a graduate of Westerville North High School in Westerville, Ohio, who joins Vizdos, a graduate of Port Huron North High School, and Kapuria, who hails from Jos, Nigeria, as fall 2000 Ambassadors.
The experience seems to pay off. Greg Clark, the very first Admissions Ambassador back in 1995, is now successfully employed by a division of Herman Miller.
--written by media relations writer Abe Huyser-Honig (class of 2004)