A creative collaboration between two Bates College offices has struck gold with an award-winning video series that sheds light on the college search, application, and financial aid process with wit, warmth, and candor.

Created for the 2019–20 admission cycle, Bates’ Ask the (College) Experts recently won a Grand Gold award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the preeminent organization for higher education communications and advancement professionals.

The video series, produced by Bates staff and featuring staff and faculty, won its award in CASE’s annual “Circle of Excellence” recognition program in a Communications category.

The collaboration between the college’s Admission and Communications offices sought to creatively address a perennial challenge: how to give myriad audiences concise, accurate, and understandable information about Bates, the liberal arts, and the admission and financial aid application process itself.

The video series Ask the (College) Experts kicks off with “Where Do I Start?” featuring Associate Dean of Admission Liz McGonigle, and with videography by Theophil Syslo and graphic design by Olivia Orr of Bates Communications.

“Our audiences crave and deserve straightforward answers to common yet complex questions,” said Leigh Weisenburger, dean of admission and financial aid at Bates. “We’re always developing ways to provide prospective students and families with just that: accurate, concise, and direct information.

“This project gave us the opportunity to make this information widely available, authentically answering a clear need in a way that just might lower some stress while increasing awareness of, and trust in, Bates.”

Featuring college faculty and staff from Admission, Student Financial Services, and Purposeful Work, the series’ 11 videos cover both the basics, such as “Where Do I Start?” and “What Does ‘Liberal Arts’ Mean?” and specifics, such as “What Should I Know About Financial Aid?” The series also offers career-exploration insights through the lens of the college’s nationally recognized Purposeful Work program.

Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Leigh Weisenburger answers “What Does ‘Test-Optional’ Mean?” for the video series.

“Wow!” the CASE judges noted. “This entry is so impressive. We really liked how user-friendly and bite-sized the content is. Excellent use of staff expertise and spot-on about the audience’s needs. The videos are both entertaining and informative, and just the perfect length.”

The video series was designed to help prospective students and families, as well as secondary-school counselors.

The CASE judges noted that the series “clearly hit a (good) nerve with students and guidance counselors.” Indeed, engagement metrics indicate that various online audiences found value in the content.

Distributed through myriad channels (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and email), the videos attracted more than 850,000 views of at least 10 seconds, which is a standard measure of whether a video is “seen.” That viewership is more than double the total number of 10-second views of all Admission videos over the prior three years. One prospective-parent segment of the audience was particularly engaged: Eight out of 10 who watched at least 25 percent of a video stayed for the entire piece.

The video series Ask the (College) Experts also includes “I Got In! How Do I Choose Where to Go?” featuring Senior Associate Dean of Admission Jared Rivers.

“These results indicate measurable engagement on an unprecedented, massive scale for Bates,” said Sean Findlen ’99, chief communications officer. “It is likely that many of the students who ultimately applied to Bates did view one or more Ask videos.”

The format will lend itself well to other communications challenges, for both Admission audiences and other key constituencies, Findlen said. “If we use these tools to help explain and instill confidence in Bates, we’ve done our job.”