It is becoming clearer each year that colleges and universities need to start utilizing social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to recruit prospective students. The Millennial generation, whose parents are often heavily involved in almost every decision, are beginning to plan their academic futures in colleges and universities much earlier than their predecessors and they are turning to social media for research assistance.
Verge Pipe Media interviewed two high school students, one a 15-year-old sophomore and the other an 17-year-old senior in order to find out how they research colleges and what aspects of higher education are the most important in their college search.
The 15-year-old sophomore, or Student A, still has a year before taking the SAT and two more years in high school and has already started her college research, but mostly because of her parents influence. Student A claims that her parents are more instrumental in her college research. When asked if she had engaged with any universities on Facebook she claimed to have liked two colleges on Facebook simply because her mom suggested it. It’s obvious that the Millennial generation’s parents are very involved in their children’s decisions and this realization begs the question, should college recruiting be targeted to students or parents?
Aside from parent’s approval, another deciding factor of schools researched is their overall culture on campus. Student A claims that campus culture and social scene are more important than educational statistics and credibility when she looks at colleges. Student A also is concerned about continuing her love of dance when she goes to college proving potential students are concerned about their hobbies and their overall enjoyment when in college, not simply their education. Shockingly, Student A has yet to use Instagram or Twitter to research colleges, but has utilized Google and Facebook. Student A does claim that she would use Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on colleges and universities instead of just using them primarily as a search engine.
In comparison, Student B, the 17-year-old high school senior, has already applied to colleges and has even been accepted to a few. Student B primarily uses Google for her college research, but has also used Twitter to check up on college’s updates and news. Shockingly, she has not used Facebook for college research stating that she doesn’t really go on Facebook that often anymore and neither does her friends. Student B feels that she is equally as instrumental in her college research as her parents are and feels that it is more of a team effort than an individual endeavor.
Student B’s deciding factor for schools to research is, like Student A, based on the school’s social scene and vibe, but Student B does put an emphasis that she is concerned about the education and the cost of the school as well. Student B also claims that she would use Twitter to keep updated on colleges and universities, but says that she would not really check universities Facebook pages.
These two college bound students prove that parents are very involved in their college research and application process and that universities should cater to parents as well as students. They have also shown that social media is a great way to reach out to prospective students, but the focus should be more on a witty and informative Twitter account that shows the school’s social scene and vibe rather than a Facebook page, as many teens feel Facebook has lost it’s cool factor. Colleges and universities must be able to adapt to these changing needs of both prospective students and their parents if they want to successfully recruit large numbers of students to their universities.
Author: Katie FitzGerald is our Fall Community Manager here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.