In the ‘olden days’ (as my children lovingly refer to my high school years), the guidance counselor was the only way you heard of schools other than the Ivy Leagues. And even then, it was limited to the colleges that had sent you materials, and those were usually colleges in the immediate area. Particularly if you grew up in New England, you started hearing about Harvard, Yale, and Brown at a very early age as the places you should strive to attend.
Not to take anything away from these incredible institutions—I adore them for many reasons—but they are not for everyone, and that means students are trying to find alternatives.
I am always amazed at the vast number of colleges there are in the United States alone. Over 4,000 if you include all 2- and 4-year colleges, including those that are for-profit; or just over 2,000 if you narrow that down to the 4-year, non-profit institutions. There are endless options for today’s students depending on what their areas of interest are, what location they want, and the size of the school that’s most comfortable for them. Maybe they want a huge public university with a football stadium the size of Rhode Island, or maybe they want a small, private 500-person liberal arts college in a quaint rural setting. The beauty of today’s technology is that they can now find their dream school by typing a few words into a search engine.
The trick for colleges is making sure you are showing up in those searches.
What is it that makes YOUR school unique? Your location? A specialized curriculum that few schools in the country offer? Your small class sizes and individual attention? Figure out what you want to highlight, and be sure ALL your marketing materials—from your website to your viewbook to your Tweets—are getting that message out there. Having a consistent message across all your materials, and highlighting key words and phrases are going to increase the likelihood that you’ll show up in those online searches.
It’s important that you work with a partner that understands the inner-workings of search engine optimization and targeted online marketing so you can make the most efficient use of your marketing dollars. It’s even more important to tie your overall marketing plan together utilizing direct mail, admissions materials, and public relations to support those digital marketing efforts. Carnegie is a unique marketing firm specializing in higher education that offers ALL of these services under one roof.
There is nothing better than getting a student that is a perfect fit for your school. Identify what makes you unique, make sure everyone knows about it, and that student will find you.