Online Schools Strive for Sense of Community

custom-polo-shirts-for-schoolsFor online educational organizations, the constant challenge is to ensure students don't feel isolated from their academic community. While high in convenience--delivered entirely through a virtual course room or campus on the web--such programs can be low in customer/student touch-points. Students are widely dispersed geographically and not required to commute to a central campus that might otherwise give them a strong sense of place and connection. Administrative support staff such as enrollment and academic advisers who help students matriculate and manage their course of study provide their services by phone with little or no interaction taking place face to face.  While their model is efficient, online educators are keenly aware that promoting a sense of belonging is an important factor in staunching student attrition.

Custom Polo Shirts Encourage Engagement

What do custom polo shirts have to do with maintaining good student relations in an online environment?  First, offering polo shirts and other clothing emblazoned with the school name and logo in an online "campus store" is a way to encourage students to identify with the school and remain engaged. In addition, they carry the school name out beyond the web into a student's network of friends, relatives and co-workers, stimulating inquiries and first-hand testimonials about their experience with online education.  Third, staff and faculty, who may also be widely dispersed geographically, have the opportunity to purchase (or receive as awards) the same customized shirts, reinforcing their sense of community as well.

Custom Polo Shirts Make the Most of Face-to-Face Opportunities 

Wearing and using custom polo shirts as give-aways at educational conferences and college fairs is one obvious way for online schools to promote their brand. However, every opportunity for face-to-face contact with current and potential students can be enhanced by their use.  For example, many schools with far flung student bodies hold occasional mixer-type events in locations where student populations are most concentrated. Not only do fellow students meet one another, but they can also have personal interactions with faculty located in their vicinity. Providing custom polo shirts at these events is a win-win, enhancing student experience with a sense of solidarity that in turn results in higher student retention.

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Of course for degree-granting online institutions, one of the most rewarding events of the year for both students and staff is the annual graduation weekend. Typically, in addition to the graduation ceremonies themselves, numerous other events including receptions and awarding of special honors are held. Students from all over the country and even the world have the opportunity to share their success with friends and family, and also with those school faculty and staff who have supported them over the course of their program and whom they may know only as voice over the telephone. But how do they find those helpmates (or how to get from the hotel to the ceremonies, find nearby points of interest, or get any of a slew of other questions answered) in the swirling crowds of graduates and their families, professors and advisers?  

Custom Polo Shirts Stand Out in a Crowd 

The solution: custom polo shirts that identify staff.  Worn with khaki or other same-colored slacks, they are a casual but welcoming uniform that graduates can look for to get assistance wherever they are in the whirlwind of activities over graduation weekend. A positive and supportive experience makes an impression on the graduate who may be seeking to pursue a second or higher degree, as well as siblings or relatives considering online schooling.

Looking for a solution that sparks engagement as well as providing brand visibility? Contact us!