There are so many factors that go into a high-schooler's college or university selection—whether it's cost or location or degree offerings, the criteria are endless. One less-tangible factor, though, is the college's "campus culture." It's the way you present your campus life in your marketing and how you depict what life is like for the student body. And it matters.
Here are four possible things that your campus's culture says about you to a high school consumer.
Diversity can take on a variety of forms. It could mean diversity in student body. It could also mean diversity of offerings. According to a study from New America of people likely to go for a college degree, diversity of major options was the No. 1 answer for factors in college decisions. So what does this have to do with your campus culture? You need to tell your students' stories. Have a unique program that only you offer in your region? Get the majors in said program front and center on campus tours, marketing, social media, etc.
If you have positive and compelling signifiers of major diversity in your marketing (i.e., showcasing your most "out there" classes, fields of study, etc.), it implies to your target audience that there's no shortage of options.
Clubs and organizations can be a hallmark of your marketing when it comes to showing off the quality of your student life on campus. Seek out the most enticing, most engaging and most unique of your student-led clubs and give them a platform on your social accounts, at college fairs or even in your print or video marketing channels. What sets you apart as a campus in this respect can translate to your overall positive community culture. Show off your clubs beyond the standard and expected student senates, club sports and academic societies, and you'll appear more welcoming and more apt to finding a place for all types.
One of the biggest factors in your campus culture are your boots on the ground. The faculty have a dramatic impact on the college decision-making process. Eduventures found that "student conversations with key influencers" was one of the four factors with the strongest influence on enrollment selections. Utilize your professors wisely in your marketing—heighten their perceived (and hopefully actual) approachability by showcasing their quirks and their interests. Get them talking about the things they care about to put potential student recruits at ease—show them that your faculty is approachable and available.
There's no bigger calling card in successful marketing to Gen-Z than authenticity. It's a term you'll hear over and over in best practices for appealing to this youngest consumer group. This is also critical when marketing your campus culture to prospective students. Consider putting students front and center—and give them the opportunity to speak off the cuff. A Gen-Z consumer will be able to smell a student boxed in by marketing-speak and pre-approved "about us" language a mile away. Try getting your biggest social influencers on campus on video or on your blog to spread the highly contagious love of your campus to the masses. The more genuine the better.