Higher-Ed Marketing | Social Media Marketing

Make Your Private College Stand Out to Today’s High School Students

This won’t be news to you: college enrollment has declined since 2012. The decline has continued into this year, with 300,000 fewer undergrad students enrolling in college this spring 2017 (compared to spring 2016). The total enrollment decline since 2012 is  “just” 2 percent, yet the colleges hardest hit by the decline are “small, non-elite” private institutions.

What does this mean for you? You’re going to have to update your strategy!  For starters,  to see the real benefit of social media marketing, you need to understand how to reach specific audiences;  each generation tends to use social media in a different way, at different times of the day, on different channels, and at a different rate.

Competition for incoming freshmen and even transfer students is getting fierce. And so your marketing needs to be fierce2.


Marketing Strategies to Help Attract More Prospective Students to Your Campus:

We’ve put together six effective strategies and tips for you. Take a look below!


  1. QR and Snapchat Codes are Your New BFFs.

First, understand that high school seniors still use QR codes. Place these bar codes on all of the printed brochures and posters, etc. you distribute to high schools and community colleges – anywhere, in fact, where your ad appears in print. Prospective students take a picture of the QR code with their smartphone, which then sends them to a page of your choice.


Snapchat has a similar feature, but instead of barcodes, Snapchat uses what they call Snap codes. Understand that QR Codes are becoming “old fashioned” to Generation Z’s members. They LOVE them some Snapchat, with 90% of Gen Z using Snapchat at least one a month! So Snap codes may be a great way to go.



  1. Speaking of Snapchat, send Snaps and Stories to prospective students!

Inbound marketers at HubSpot have created a guide to using Snapchat for business. In a nutshell, send Snapchat’s Stories videos (to those prospects who have given you their phone number) to pique their interest. What types of video? Send short videos of current students talking about how much they love your campus; have the head of your career center brag about your school’s graduation rate; ask the football team to post a goofy video. You name it, send it in a snap!


  1. Yes, print media still works. But only the right type of print.

Generation Z looks at newspapers and magazines as those things Grandpa reads. In other words: no one with any street cred reads print.  But popular and celebrity magazines? Now you’re talking. Young people today look to celebrity and sports figures as role models; while reading about their role model in a popular mag, maybe they see your schools’s ad and it piques their interest!


  1. Social media contests get attention.

Social media is becoming a pay-to-play media: if you want your posts to be seen, you pretty much have to run ads.  But the chance to win something is always attractive to anyone, particularly high school students. Take a look at Misericordia University’s success raising awareness within its northeastern Pennsylvania region when it ran a two-week summer Facebook contest offering bookstore gift certificates.


  1. Keep track of #hashtag trends.

Attract the attention of prospective students on social media with hashtags. Let’s say, for example, that you plan to post on your college’s Instagram channel pictures sent by current students on their spring break trips. #SpringBreak2017 could be a great way to catch the attention of prospective students. Additional hashtags to try could be similar to #SummerBeforeFreshmanYear, #ClassOf2021, #CampusEats, and so on. If possible, come up with a creative hashtag for your own university: #ThinkAlbright, #WeAre (for Pennsylvania State University football team, a play on its “We Are Penn State” slogan), and so on. For hashtag inspiration, check out

  1. YouTube videos.

Detroit’s own College for Creative Studies – like several private colleges in Michigan – does a great job portraying student life through their YouTube channel. This informs current high schoolers’ admissions process and helps them find the very best fit for them, while promoting the positive attributes of your college or university.

YouTube channels continue to gain more subscribers with each view; consider asking a group of current students to post weekly or bi-weekly posts about the latest events or campus news on your institution’s YouTube channel. Doing so can allow prospective students to connect with current students, helping them get a better – and real – idea of what it’s like to attend your college. Topics could include, for example, the dating scene on campus, what it’s like to travel outside campus to the city nearby, how to get along with roommates, and so on. Make sure you add appropriate hashtags to catch attention.


Try a Higher-Ed Marketing Agency.

Ingenex Digital Marketing is a Michigan-based inbound marketing agency dedicated to helping private colleges and universities attract a highly targeted cohort of prospective students. Our higher education marketing services are highly effective and provide a terrific ROI.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your school stand out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.