Logic seems to indicate that Gen Z high school students prefer social media for marketing by colleges.
It’s not so, according to Eduventures 2019 Student Sentiment Research Report.
On the contrary, emails from the school are the most popular channel, cited by 62%. Next are word-of-mouth from family and friends (57%) and school websites (46%).
Email figures even in stages where it’s not the most popular choice. The top three sources when deciding where to apply are campus tours, open houses (63%), college websites (52%) and emails from the college (41%).
And when they get to the enrollment decision, students are most swayed by campus tours, open houses (65%), college websites (44%) and emails from the college (38%).
We have to assume that given their ages, students who receive any email at all have opted in to it. Gone on the days when you could simply rent a list of 16- and 17-year-olds, some of whom might not even be planning to attend college.
Eduventures has also identified search strategies that students use when choosing colleges.
Websites and Emails (37%): Students who use this method trust the information they gather through institutional websites, institutional emails and search engines.
Friends and Family (30%): These potential applicants seek work-of-mouth input from those closest to them.
Stealth, All Channels (20%): These individuals look for sources that do not require involvement (i.e., emails from schools, postcards and brochures or print guides to colleges.)
The Phone is My Friend (13%): These students seek information from faculty, current students and administrators.
The lesson here is that colleges must guide their prospects through the decision journey, reaching them in the channels they prefer for each stage.
The study notes that there are 3.7 million high school seniors who must choose among a maze of 4,000 institutions.
This proves that it takes “hard, long-term work and collaboration between the admissions and marketing teams to move a prospective student from initial awareness about a school to enrollment,” states Johanna Trovato, Senior Analyst and primary author of this study.
Trovato adds, “Each stage in the college search process requires a different outreach strategy that fits within the students’ search behaviors at the particular stage.”