How to Collect Good Student Testimonials

Student testimonials are vital to university marketing content. When prospective students learn about the Michigan Tech experience directly from the source, it creates a deeper emotional connection. Students getting their hands dirty, doing the work, and sharing their experiences and excitement drives potential students to see themselves doing the same thing. They really want to be at our university doing what they love to do.

How do you grab those moments to share with prospective students? Ask current students to highlight the access, opportunities, experiences, and self-improvement they’re engaged in at Michigan Tech. You can capture their perspectives in person, virtually, or even by email.

How to Collect Student Testimonials

How to Conduct In-person Interviews

The best interviews are a conversation. Interacting with students in person makes that easier. The process is reciprocal, not transactional. You’re not there to get a quote, you’re having a conversation. Talk about the good parts and even the parts that aren’t so great. Listen.

We have a list of starter questions that can help you break the ice. Take a little time to warm students up, ask from the heart, and show your interest. When you reach out to schedule the interview, it’s OK to batch out the initial request email to several students if time is short, but after that, try to personalize each individual email response. When you’re authentic, you get authenticity in return.

Give yourself and the students time. Interviewing is an art. Take a breath, look over questions you’ve completed in advance, and pause when you need to during the interview. Don’t jump in to fill every silence. Sometimes the gaps lead to the best quotes. 

Let the student know you need photos, which they can provide if there are good quality images available or you can take using our image capture tips at some point during the interview. When prospective students can see who the student sharing a testimonial it has an exponentially greater impact than a quote with no image.

How to Conduct Electronic Interviews

All of us are busy—and that includes students. If you need to collect student testimonials in bulk for a big recruitment project, web page refresh, department blogs, or other content, Google forms can be an efficient way to collect the information you need. The College of Business has a great example of a simple form with a supportive introduction letting students know how sharing their experiences can make a difference, two to three general but engaging questions, and one to two specific questions about what they love most about their education journey. Ask or arrange for that all-important photo and you’re on your way to leveraging a powerful recruitment tool.

Is it okay to edit student testimonials? Yes.

We share student comments throughout Michigan Tech’s websites, on our social media, and in print. But sometimes the first answer they give us isn’t their most natural answer. Our students tend to be extremely polite, kind, geeky, introverted, or all of the above, which often prompts them to tell us what they think we want to hear. The words can sound very robotic and people-pleasing instead of sharing their real experiences in their own voices. 

When you receive written quotes from your students you don’t have to run the first version you receive as is. Many quotes will benefit from some smoothing to ensure they’re more conversational and flow naturally. It’s not unethical to lightly edit to remove extra words, make a confusing order of thoughts more cohesive, or relax stiff phrasing, such as “I am majoring in mechanical engineering” to “I’m a mechanical engineering major.” During this process, you’re helping them craft a quote that sounds more like them and less like a robotic email. Run the quote by the student quickly for approval. Students are usually grateful for these edits.

More Editing Tips

  • When writing, don’t worry about too many “he saids” or “she saids.” There’s no need to struggle with awkward variations: “he pointed out,” or “according to,” or “she stated.” A simple “said” is OK. 
  • Pick a tense and stick with it. Don’t, for example, shift from said to says.

I have the testimonials, now what?

When you’ve collected your student testimonials it’s time to put them to work. Here are some possible types of student testimonials you can use and how you can share them. 

  • Department/College Homepage – this is a great way to highlight how students interact with their department or college or Michigan Tech in general.
  • Recruitment web pages:
    • Individual Degree/Program Pages – student testimonials referencing students’ excitement of pursuing their degree whether it’s their research, course work, and/or faculty interaction.
    • Undergraduate/Graduate tab-level Pages – student testimonials that highlight the undergraduate or graduate experience.
  • Research pages – students sharing their research, their experiences, or working directly with faculty.
  • Giving pages – how students benefit from a past donation
  • Department News Blogs – reminder if students are talking about a faculty member or their degree program, link those profiles or program pages, this increases SEO.
  • Print Materials
  • Social Media

Thank you to Heather Powers, Digital Content Manager, and Cyndi Perkins, Senior Content Specialist in University Marketing and Communications, for passing on these tips