In May of this year, BridgeU hosted our first BridgeUniversity Conference in Hong Kong.
It was an opportunity for our global community of counselors to share professional development strategies and best practices from the diverse world of university guidance. It was also a valuable chance for us to talk to our schools about their experiences with the BridgeU platform and explore ways BridgeU could further aid them in the delivery of their university guidance programmes.
Over two days, we discussed a range of topics, from how to use data to inform university guidance, to trends in international student mobility. It was a great forum for open discussion and knowledge sharing.
We couldn’t possibly sum up all the rich and varied insights we took away from the conference in one article.
But as the date of our second conference in London grows closer, we thought we’d look back on some of the most important learnings from our first gathering of BridgeU counselors and schools.
1. Schools are still striving to collect more accurate university admissions data
One of BridgeU’s founding principles is that high quality data can empower counselors and schools to reflect on their performance and deliver better outcomes for their students in the long-term. But teachers and counselors manage a lot of data in their day-to-day job, with information coming from a lot of streams and channels.
Learning how to separate good quality from bad quality data and how to make sense of data when reporting to their senior leadership team is something that our counselors are continuing to grapple with. Counselors also reported that they want students to be involved in the data collection process.
For example, some of our counselors and advisers told us that they are looking to find ways to incentivise more students to report back on their final university application outcomes. After a student leaves a school, counselors still find it hard to get accurate data on where he/she was accepted to university, and whether they’ll ultimately be attending.
2. Counselors loved developing their BridgeU knowledge
We were delighted that counselors walked away from their first BridgeUniversity experience feeling more confident about using the platform, thanks to our bespoke product workshops. Our first conference was a great opportunity for counselors to brainstorm ideas, dive deeper into some of the unique features of the platform and learn how to customise BridgeU to their school’s needs and goals.
The newer counselors in our community also benefited from the chance to take part in sessions and talks organised by their more experienced counterparts and learn how BridgeU could help them as they grew in their role.
We were also really pleased to hear that our schools feel really involved in continued development and growth of both the BridgeU platform and the wider community.
3. Counselors & schools want to stay up to date with the latest higher education trends
Our BridgeU counselors loved the opportunity to keep up with some of the current trends in international university admissions, whether it was discussing how to compete as an international school in the global education market, or what schools should expect from their students during the university admissions process.
And it’s not just higher education trends. Counselors want to understand their performance and trends in the context of other schools around the world. It’s why we’re excited that BridgeU Insights will allow counselors to easily benchmark their school’s performance against those of their peers.
Our unique data workshop allowed counselors to get an overview of the key global trends in students’ university applications and see how our new Insights feature is helping schools to benchmark themselves against these trends over time. We hope that data like this will help BridgeU schools and counselors to shape and improve their university guidance programmes in the years to come!
4. The importance of building trust in your school’s guidance programme
BridgeU is a platform that helps counselors and school careers advisers create a more accountable university and careers guidance strategy. Whether it’s students taking more responsibility for their own application deadlines or counselors being able to evidence their students’ application outcomes, we’ve created the conditions for all stakeholders in a student’s university application journey to work more closely together.
One of the highlights of our first conference was seeing how counselors are using BridgeU to ensure that all students, parents and school leaders feel involved and invested in the university guidance process.
Whether it was reference writing workshops for subject teachers, or coffee mornings & university info sessions for concerned parents, everyone at the conference came away with some effective strategies for building a transparent and inclusive university guidance programme.
5. BridgeU is a community of schools
The most important take-away we took from our first user conference was that BridgeU is far more than a platform – it’s increasingly a growing international community.
We’re a community where learning and co-operation across borders is celebrated, where professional development and support isn’t constrained by time zones. It was amazing to see our counselors swap ideas, debate best practice and share their ideas for the future of the BridgeU journey
We’re excited to announce that our second BridgeU user conference will take place in London, from the 8th-9th November. It’s going to be packed with more insights, talks and, of course, lots and lots of fun!