How to Attract Exchange Students: the Engineering Edition
The key lies in the details (whether you show them or not)
With the rise of travel, studying abroad has become almost a given. But with its increasing popularity, so has the number of programmes offered worldwide — with many promising exotic locations and prestigious institutions.
Enter the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Faculty of Engineering.
One of the top engineering schools worldwide, the Faculty also has its own set of exchange programmes and summer internships for international students. And like other top institutions, the Faculty is in the game to attract the best and brightest engineering students around the world.
The Faculty has two main international programmes:
- the Student Exchange Programme (SEP), and
- the Summer Engineering Research Internship for US Students (SERIUS).
To reach out to prospective students, the Faculty uses an existing set of brochures. (We can’t show them here, but to get a sense of what they looked like, just imagine…jam-packed powerpoint slides.)
And so: we were tasked to showcase what SEP and SERIUS can truly offer — in a visually appealing way that still gets the key details across.
As far as most people are concerned, engineering is a serious major.
Think: sober and technical looking covers with packed columns of text. Then imagine the sea of brochures students are likely to receive at a typical study abroad fair. If the brochure doesn’t stand out, it’s probably going to be discarded along with the rest.
So as an engineering programme, how do you make yourself memorable and appealing?
Even though we all know we aren’t supposed to judge brochures by their covers, most of us still do. So we got to work on the cover — abandoning the previous (dark and cluttered!) design.
Instead, we opted for a clean look with white. Next came the pops of colour that look striking against such a clean background: bright, ‘popsicle’ shades that seem to leap off the page.
That’s not all. Whether from afar or examining up close, you will notice the iconic typography on the cover. It’s not just pretty, either. It has lots of detail packed in — and engineers love the little details — including icons and keywords related to the field.
So we have an eye-catching cover.
But our job isn’t done yet.
Imagine picking up the brochure and opening it to find stern-looking tables and columns of text. Probably not what anyone had in mind, save for the most studious engineering student.
Such study abroad brochures tend to be serious — because jetting off to a foreign country to broaden your horizons is a serious matter. The question is: now that we have captured students’ attention, how do we keep it?
Drawing inspiration from travel brochures (because isn’t studying abroad kind of like travelling?), the brochure opens up to feature a striking view of Singapore.
Easy-to-understand icons and accompanying blurbs then help to get the message across at a glance.
As students unfold the brochure fully, student testimonies and photo collages (of scenic views! Food!) paint a more complete picture of the programme. And if students find themselves hungry to find out more, they can simply go online to get the lowdown (the links are all there).
Because this brochure isn’t meant to tell them every single thing about the programme — but to fire their imaginations about what they can do at NUS Engineering and in Singapore.
The early feedback has been good, with an increase in the number of students coming up to query about the SEP and SERIUS programmes after spotting the brochures at travel abroad fairs. (As for the next step, it’s up to them.)
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