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Welcoming Freshmen: CeLIBration @ the GT Library PART 1 (intro/concept)

August 21, 2006, 12:51 pm

This is how we kick off the semester in the ATL!

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Today is the start of the semester and I forget just how crazy the first week of Fall is! It’s such an adrenaline rush on desk though.

On Saturday we held a welcome event for incoming freshmen. We called it CeLIBration and it was a huge success! About 600 students dropped by and it seemed like everyone had a good time.

So, what’d we do exactly? Too much for one blog entry, so this is going to be multipart throughout the week:

So let’s get into it. The last two years we’ve hosted a welcome event with the main draw being a LAN based video game Unreal Tournament . Essentially students would use our Info Commons computers to hunt and shoot each other. We had two big screens which kept score. Cool concept, but attendance was weak. It was a ton of work to configure and re-imagine the PCs. And granted, although Tech has a rep as a nerd school, it just wasn’t as big of a draw as we wanted. So this time around we scrapped the LAN idea.

We built upon the idea of community space, which is the big library buzzword these days. We wanted to showcase the library as a space to hangout, socialize, eat, chill. So we gave them free pizza, popcorn, soda, and a variety of things to do. Essentially we strived to create several zones, each with different lighting, music, mood and ambiance. Each zone was designed to entertain 20-30 students at a time. This was very important to me personally, because I wanted to be like a night club with different vibes in different locations.

Another big change we made was timing. The past two years we held our event the first Saturday after school started. There is a lot of competition because you have the Greek stuff in full force, clubs and organizations doing their thing, homework, and of course we’re in the heart of midtown so lots of potential distractions. This time around we teamed up with the Freshmen Experience folks and became the primary destination for their Saturday Rats Week Festivities . We had to compete with Day 1 of sorority rush, but there’s never a perfect time. Students moved in Thursday and Friday, and we opened our doors to them Saturday from 7 till 11pm . We easily had 100 people waiting at the door at 6:45 and it was jammed with nearly 600 people until close to 10pm .

Rats_poster_gt_library_1Marketing played a key role. Again, teaming up with the Freshman Group enabled us to allow them to market the event during orientations, move in days, and other opportunities which we don’t traditionally have access to. We also pushed out info to the RAs to encourage their students to attend. And then of course posters and handouts.

But perhaps probably the most interesting strategy was our use of FaceBook. I’ll get into this more with the specific events, but we could target students by interest and class, and direct market to them. For example, we invited all single freshmen with an interest in dating to our speed dating event. We also invited students who had an interest in Retro Gaming (old school stuff from the original Nintendo). And additionally placed a $5 per day ad on FaceBook three days leading up to the event. The students who responded were enthusiastic. I have a ton of new FaceBook ideas.

Gatech_library_facebook_flyer_2006One thing I wanted, but could not pull it together was to get the The Futurists to do a live acoustic set. Two of the guys go to Tech and it would have been nice to give them exposure and chance to sell merch, while giving us a little rock star vibe. I also wish we could have marketed to student clubs, selling the idea of this as a chance to meet freshmen and pitch your organization in a social environment. And finally, would have been cool to create a VIP section, a little something special for people who could advance our agenda, mingled with student athletes and student entertainers (artists, actresses, musicians, etc). I wonder sometimes if I’m in the wrong profession.

I’ll leave it at that for now… but come back, or better yet subscribe, and get the full details later. I don’t know the exact cost, but I think we budgeted around $2,500. And our Director was very pleased, so hopefully we can do this type of thing several more times throughout the year.

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