ACC Health Sciences Division hosted a successful open house on Saturday, February 24. Nearly 1,000 current and future students and community members registered to participate in demonstrations, workshops, and tours of ACC’s simulation centers and labs at the Eastview Campus. 

Working with the Office of College Relations and Marketing (OCRM), Health Sciences was able to increase registrations for its annual open house from 469 people in 2023 to 985 in 2024 — a 110% increase. 

Of the 985 registrants, 277 identified themselves as future ACC students, 241 said they were current ACC students, 52 were former students, 39 were graduating high school seniors, 27 were community members, partners, or employees, and the remaining did not specify.

This annual event started in 2016 — minus a couple of years off during the pandemic (2021, 2022). It started at 88 registrations the first year and hovered in the 500-600 range the next three years. The 2023 event was the first post-COVID. 

There has been some level of involvement with marketing since the first event. Over the past two years, collaboration with OCRM has been enhanced, producing heightened media and communication support along with better data.

“It takes a village to put events together. Having a strategy is the most important part,” said Alex Bryant, ACC College Marketing Director. She attributes a long lead time and a targeted audience list to the success of this year’s open house.

The request for marketing assistance for the open house was submitted in October — four months before the event. It was bare bones, just a date and location, but that was enough to get the ball rolling on planning. “It gave us as a marketing team the lead time to put together the work plan,” says Bryant. 

The teams held a kick-off meeting in November and then met each month after that for regular check-ins, with plenty of email and chat communications in between. 

“It was an intentional collaborative and organized effort between OCRM and us — we became one team working together. We had intentional discussions of who needed to be a part of the planning and who needed to be invited (internal and external stakeholders) to participate in the event. It took months of planning that included refinement and attention to detail,” says Dr. Estrella Barrera, Health Sciences associate dean.

The primary goal for the annual Health Sciences Open House is to provide a platform for the community to engage with and explore various healthcare career opportunities at ACC. The secondary goal is to facilitate connections between prospective students and essential resources and support. For that to work well, the Health Sciences Division and OCRM collaborated with the college’s Recruitment Office and held planning discussions for the event and to discuss ways to stay connected with those prospective students afterward.

“It takes intentional and thoughtful planning with all stakeholders. Clear purpose of the event was crucial for us as plans can easily get derailed — we caught ourselves derailing a couple of times and it was so helpful to have clarity on the purpose. The clarity helped us get back on track quickly and stay focused. Attention to all the details is crucial,” says Barrera.

Some of the details the team worked through to make the event a success include:

  • A curated list – Instead of blasting information to everyone, the team worked together to attract people who would be the most interested in the event, such as students who submitted requests for information to Health Sciences, students who applied but didn’t enroll, etc.
  • Digital ads – It takes up to a month to get assets created, into the system, and launched. Also, the longer the ads are out there, the better: “When you see things repeatedly, it helps to get you to take action,” says Bryant.
  • Promotional materials to promote the event such as handbills to bring to community events, recruitment events, etc. to help get the word out
  • Signage – The team visited the site in January to advise on where to place check-in tables, yard signs, directional signage, etc. “Those little things make the experience positive and make a student and their family feel more welcome,” says Bryant. 

Lastly, after the event, the team followed up with thank you notes and outreach directly to students and will continue to track those students.

“We want other departments to know they can do this, too. While marketing is not the event planner — we don’t order the food or schedule the activities — you can lean on us for best practices, suggestions for marketing assets, and even to help you flesh out your event since we support a lot of them,” says Bryant. “Marketing is there to support you.”

View photos from the open house on the Health Sciences Open House Flickr album.

For more information on OCRM’s available services and to submit a marketing request form, visit the OCRM website.