Graduation season is winding up. The class of 2024 has received their diplomas and everyone is excited to step fully into summer where stresses can be replaced with playfulness. But, wait …

… before you hug your last graduate good-bye and get settled into the summer spirit, let’s take a moment to review plans and materials for the fresh incoming class and your campus’s returning students. By reviewing needed fall materials now, before the new school year deadlines, you can possibly save budget dollars, lock-in a date for delivery, and certainly reduce crunch-time stress.

In this article, we’ll explore the essential materials that higher education institutions need to have for the new school year.

College Student Holding Books

Welcome Letters and Info Packets for Freshmen and Transfer Students

First impressions matter, especially for incoming freshmen and transfer students who may be navigating a new environment. In the same regard, setting your students up for success, is critical. Welcome letters and information packets play a vital role in orienting these students to campus life and school culture.

Your letters and/or info packets may include important information about academic programs, campus resources, student handbooks, move-in details, student services, campus maps, and more. Creating these pieces to be part of a systematic, branded package is the creative challenge.

Materials should be easy to comprehend. Avoid conflicting messaging, and aim to keep messages singularly focused. Meaning, don’t try to squeeze everything you’re trying to convey into one lengthy document. Or, if you are creating one master welcome brochure, make sure sections are clearly defined so information is easy to process and retain.

It’s also a good idea to confirm that students have received your literature. An easy way to do this is by sending an email asking students for confirmation of received welcome materials. However, other ways that can be effective are via SMS, QR codes included within the printed welcome packets, phone calls, and mail tracking.  

Get prepared by asking:

  • What information is vital for our new students to have on hand their first day?
  • Do we have these materials stored on campus? If yes, how many? If no, have you reordered in preparation or the fresh school year?
  • Do our materials represent our institution’s brand integrity in both quality and content?

Welcome Kits for New Faculty and Staff

In addition to welcoming students, higher education institutions must also onboard new staff members effectively. Welcome kits tailored to the needs of incoming staff can include essential items such as employee handbooks, campus maps, office supplies, and personalized welcome notes.

These kits not only help new staff members feel valued and supported but also ensure that they have the tools they need to hit the ground running in their new roles. And, let’s be honest, new hire paperwork is extensive. Having a system for everything Day-One-Important for your new hires not only makes a lasting, profound impression, but will also makes your HR and business administrator’s lives a tad bit easier.

For institutions with bigger budgets, you might also want to consider including branded apparel, high-quality binder/organizers, or another item(s) from your SWAG catalog that staff can feel pride in regularly using.

Get prepared by asking:

  • What vital information do our new hires need in hand on their first day on campus?
  • Do we have these materials stored on campus? If yes, how many? If no, have you reordered in preparation of the fresh school year?
  • Do our materials represent our institution’s brand integrity in both quality and content?
College Campus signage

Directional Signage, Wayfinding

Navigating a large campus can be daunting—especially for newcomers.

Actually, navigating a new place of any size can be intimidating. Directional signage—either temporary or permanent—plays a crucial role in guiding students, faculty, and staff to their destinations efficiently.

Whether it’s pointing out classroom buildings, administrative offices, dining halls, libraries, dorms, or recreational facilities, clear and well-placed signage enhances the overall campus experience and reduces confusion.

Signage is also important for move-in day. It marks the beginning of a new chapter for many students, signaling the start of their college experience. Institutes can enhance the move-in experience by providing helpful signage to welcome students back to campus. Whether it’s providing directions to residence halls or organizing welcome events, these gestures create a sense of belonging and excitement among students.

Get prepared by asking:

  • Is our campus easy to navigate? Are there buildings and/or student spaces that seem to always be difficult for new students to locate?
  • Are there rooms and/or spaces inside campus buildings that are hard to find or perhaps have been moved or even newly added/repurposed, which signage could assist with?
  • Do we need signage for key events such as homecoming, pep rallies, fundraising activities, student organizations, etc?
  • This coming semester, will we have construction on campus, school events that need extra promotion, facilities looking for help wanted, guest speakers, etc., that signage can help spread awareness?

Workbooks, Books, Folders, & All Things Bookstore

New school year. New students. New books, folders, binders, and more!

There’s something energizing about starting off a fresh school year with new materials. The first week is always exciting as syllabus, booklets and/or pocket folders for classes, labs, and special programs are distributed.

Now is the time to start thinking about materials that will need to be created in bulk. Class or lab materials for the semester, pocket folders and binders for students, and other materials requested by professors. Even if materials aren’t ready to be produced just yet, having an estimated idea of what will be needed for the fall semester can help project and maintain budgets.  

Another space to think about is you school bookstore.

Your school’s bookstore is one of your largest revenue streams. It’s a must-visit for each student usually at the start of each semester for textbooks and supplies. Offering school-pride items in your school store such as sweatshirts, t-shirts, pens, blankets, etc. is an easy way to reinforce your school’s brand, spread awareness, and as mentioned, increase bottom line profits.  

Get prepared by asking:

  • Do your teachers and professors have a way to print, present, and distribute syllabuses for classes—especially larger lecture hall classes that may have several hundred students?
  • Will any classes or special programs need booklets or pocket folders?
  • Have you shopped for new 2024 apparel and trending SWAG items for your school store and other places where merchandise is sold?
  • Have you checked your bookstore’s inventory; discontinuing poorly selling items, replenishing popular items?

Business Cards, Stationery, & Office Supplies

Even in a digital age, the need for professional business cards and stationary is still prevalent—especially for those attending educational conferences, community engagements, and onboarding new students. These materials not only facilitate communication but also serve as tangible representations of the institute’s brand identity.

Get prepared by asking:

  • Have we refreshed our stationary, business cards, and other office supplies recently? Are we happy with the quality?
  • Does anyone need to (re)order business cards and other office supplies for the 2024-2025 school year?  

New School Year, Here We Go!

Get a head-start on materials for the fresh school year and settle into summer vacation fully at ease. 

The new school year presents an opportunity for higher education institutes to make a positive impression on students, faculty, and staff. By investing in essential materials such as welcome letters, directional signage, academic resources, and promotional items, institutes can create a welcoming and supportive environment that fosters success for all members of the campus community.

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