Let’s Party Together: Students Leading College Recruiting Efforts

Colleges looking to buck a trend of reduced enrollment are rethinking their recruiting techniques and employing current students to attract future scholars. According to Time magazine, 40 percent of private colleges saw enrollment declines, and previously booming community colleges saw their first dip in years. To stop the bleeding, colleges are tailoring their recruitment to reach students on a personal level, and what better way to reach students than through students?

A new wave of student-led recruitment techniques are using technology and community to inspire college-bound teens. Resources like advisors and an SAT tutor at Study Point can help students get in to college, but high school students trust their peers when it comes to choosing where to spend the next four (or five) years.

Student Blogs

Prospective students aiming to get a glimpse into college life have previously been left with pamphlets, 50-word testimonies and the occasional campus tour. The internet has provided a platform for real students to share real feelings about college life, and some schools are promoting this dialogued amongst peers. MIT hosts student blogs directly on its admission website. It would be easy for this renowned institution to forge blog entries that described the “celebration of diversity” and “collaborative environment” MIT boasts, playing on buzz words that high school seniors have seen for decades. Instead, MIT let its students do the talking.

An expected 2015 graduate describes a night when the Disney song “A Whole New World” gave her a breath amidst a sea of work, while a Freshman’s latest post is entitled “Champagne, pistols, and my new UROP.” It’s not your average marketing copy, but chances are students are far more intrigued with this authentic picture of college life.

Social Media

Whether universities like it or not, Facebook influences where high schoolers want to go to college. It began at Harvard as a platform based on college exclusivity, and now schools are logging on to the most common denominator of prospective students. At MIT, current students run a page on which they welcome accepted students. Official college pages often host Q&A sessions for interested users and list important admissions dates on various platforms.

Student Ambassadors

Schools are using a peer-based strategy offline as well, sending out student ambassadors to give first-hand testimonies in high schools. The City University of New York hires its students to post fliers and host recruiting sessions to compete with the more prominent universities. Social media platforms offer more a more personal form of communication than the average flier, but nothing can substitute for face-to-face interaction. By interacting with student recruiters, prospects will establish their first peer relationship for the fall after graduation.

Youth Creativity

Made by two Central Institute of Technology (CIT) graduates, a viral Australia college advertisement starts out like any other generic advertisement. Playing off the tagline “It’s a snap,” a hip young student magically takes a prospective student from location to location with the snap of his fingers. Chipper music plays in the background as the two young men beam from a coffee shop to a bar to a recording studio. The seemingly innocent advertisement takes a turn, however, when the tour guide beams himself into a coat rack, which impales his chest.

This dark, twisted turn indicates that this is no normal college advertisement. The two-minute video continues on a hilarious, demented path until the last few seconds, when a basic CIT advertisement appears with elevator music in the background. The point is, it’s not your father’s advertisement, and as of December 2012, it has over two million views on Youtube alone.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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