Source high-quality, insightful, and authentic student case studies and quotes for the University’s master’s prospectus.
In the past, when we’ve been asked to source or develop students’ case studies and quotes for the prospectuses, we’ve come up against a few difficulties.
The main problem has been briefing the students clearly and effectively enough to make sure what they write is:
- detailed enough to be edited into a full case study
- written in their own tone of voice to show authenticity and not sound like something a marketing team would say
- full of descriptive opinions so that it inspires prospective students to apply to Bath
We’ve also had a problem when it comes to choosing the right students to tell the right stories. On previous occasions, we’ve been in touch with students from a huge variety of backgrounds, nationalities, course subject areas, and life experiences and we’d love to include them all in the prospectus, but unfortunately, space limitations in the print document mean a lengthy narrowing down process each time.
For the 2023 master’s prospectus, we decided to try out a new method for collecting student case studies and quotes to try to eliminate these problems.
Meeting the students
First of all, we arranged initial student group sessions over Teams to have a casual chat with the pool of students that the Marketing team had identified as ideal case study candidates. This was effective as many students were studying from home at the time, so it was a quick way to get everyone together to find out what experiences they had that they could talk about later in more detail.
Meeting on Teams also meant that, with everyone's permission, we could record the session and receive an automated transcript of everything that was said. These recordings were also useful for finding quotes for the prospectus, as students had already made insightful comments at this stage of the process that were suitable for matching up with topics covered in the prospectus.
Next, we reviewed the recordings and shortlisted students based on the topics they could talk about for case studies, for example, learning and teaching, sports, or employment support. As with every prospectus, it’s important that we have a balance of male and female students, nationalities, and faculties so we then reassessed our choices to make sure we were giving an accurate representation of our student body.
The following stage involved booking in a one-to-one Teams interview with each of the shortlisted students and drafting a list of questions to ask about their experiences of the topic we wanted to write a case study about. Each of us in the Content Team took a turn at interviewing a student and a turn at notetaking during another interview.
We wanted the interviews to feel as relaxed as possible, so chose to move away from the drafted questions when needed, in order to get the most spontaneous and natural answers out of the students. We also wanted them to feel at ease during the process, so reminded them that there were no wrong answers and asked them to be as honest as they liked.
Writing up the case studies
In the final stage of the process, each of us wrote up the case study for the interview we had conducted with the aid of the Teams recording, transcript, and notes made by the note taker.
We had a word limit of 200 for each case study, so had to make sure we included the most valuable information from the interviews in a cohesive and impactful way. We also had to work with the natural speech patterns of each student to make sure their final case study was grammatically correct but still showed their authentic tone of voice and language choices.
Finally, we emailed the finished case studies to the students for their approval and were pleased to receive quick and enthusiastic responses from everyone.
We achieved the goal of sourcing and writing four student case studies with different themes and authentic language and included them in the 2023 master’s prospectus.
As a team, we felt that we had risen to the challenge of finding a new way to source student case studies, and as some team members had more experience in interviewing than others, it was a great opportunity to practice a skill we don’t often get to use.
Ideas for the future
We had a team discussion to decide what changes we could make for the next University prospectus. Our suggestions would potentially require more time and resource than we had this time around, but our ideas were:
- sourcing a larger pool of case studies throughout the year, and interviewing in September, rather than sourcing all case studies at once
- conducting the same interview process with alumni to make the task of sourcing alumni case studies easier
- conducting in-person sessions with all students to establish whether there were alternative candidates for each of the prospectus topics who were maybe overlooked during the initial group meeting
- arranging peer interviews, where students ask each other about their experiences, to see if this method results in students feeling more at ease and sharing more details about their time at university