The senior year of a high school student can be viewed as the most tumultuous time in a young person’s life, and for good reason. Everything that a student has been building towards for the past eighteen years of their life comes to fruition in a few short steps across a stage and a single handshake. In one moment, years of routine are stripped away and questions as deeply probing as they are plentiful begin to take hold of the adolescent mind. Questions such as “Am I making the right choice?” ”Will I fit in with my peers?” ”Should I look into Greek life?” or simply “Can I do this?” all claw away at the mind without rest.
These questions and concerns cannot be answered with any number of campus tours or informational seminars; the answers may only come from experiential knowledge, from trial and error, from life. This is what makes the outset of the college experience so frightening for some – and believe me, I was among those concerned. It is with great satisfaction, however, that I can tell you that the experience in question was without a doubt one of the fondest memories I have collected in my 24 years of life. With that being said, I will try my best to erase any doubts and spare you from a few growing pains many college freshmen endure.
For marketers, understanding the mindset of the incoming student is imperative to finding success in driving admission. It’s graduation rate or the diversity of classes can no longer be solely relied upon to entice a student into enrolling at a college or university – but rather the implied experience that will come hand in hand with a residence hall and meal plan. An incoming student needs to be reassured that their school of choice will keep them fulfilled both in and out of the classroom, because that is truly what they are looking forward to. Put simply, a student expects to receive a great education – yet hopes to have a fun, rewarding experience. It is time for universities to acknowledge the aspects of their campus and culture that extend beyond the classroom and appeal to the more intricate facets of student personas.
What we have done here recently for Lindenwood University, is produce a TV spot that illustrates this very idea. An ad that utilizes the work and creativity of students from the University – both on and off campus, that captures the truest aspects of student life as seen by themselves. In doing so, you can see, as an incoming student, exactly what you will be getting yourself into. We really believe that an advertisement done in this manner allows inbound students a glimpse into what their next four years could be like.
The collegiate world needs to understand that millennial students desire more than a degree. They are looking for their time at college to be a culturing, life affirming, and romanticized realization of the past 18 years of their academic journey. Popular culture simply demands that it be as such. Understanding this is the key to winning the hearts of today’s students because so many things are taken for granted. They know they’ll go to college, they know they’ll graduate with a degree, but what they aren’t sure of is whether or not it will live up to their wildest expectations. I found my time in college to be everything that I had hoped for it to be and more – but I had to find it all out myself. If a University had the foresight to tell us the things we spend four years discovering and experiencing, before we step foot on campus… well, they wouldn’t have to spend very much on marketing after that.