Where Gen Z’s Are Learning About Your Institution


- 5 min read - 

What Social Media Sites Are Students Searching for Higher Education?

Social Media is an ever changing landscape with new apps popping up and dying off what feels like every year. On top of that each generation or better yet, age groups within a generation have different preferences than their peers just a couple of years older. Here at Glacier we keep up-to-date with what is cool and what is not.  

It is no surprise when we say that Gen Z’s love their phone. While they do spend time consuming media through many channels, their smartphones are where they are spending a significant amount of time. Gen Z’s are spending a median of 5 hours a day on their phone with the top 25% spending 7 hours a day. 5 hours a day                                                                                            Image 1

The sites and apps that Gen Z’s are using do not differ much from Millennials. We have noticed the largest difference between the two generations is the usage of each site and app. As seen in image 2, there is even a difference in what apps and sites juniors and seniors are using. There has been a general downward trend of Facebook usage among Gen Z’s but the most interesting and largest discrepancy is the YouTube usage rate between Seniors (65%) and Juniors (57%). Knowing this can help build more effective awareness and engagement campaigns by creating messages specific to juniors and seniors. 
students visit these sites daily                                                                                         Image 2

Digging a little deeper we have found where Gen Z’s are consuming media in regards to higher education. We have found that students use social media to learn about student life and the culture of a particular institution as it helps them to picture themselves there. From a survey we conducted with 1700 students we found that student life is tied for the second most important thing about an institution. Making sure ads showcasing student life and the culture of your institution is very valuable and the best way to get the most out of it is to put them on the most used apps and sites. Image 3 is taken from a study by Pew Research shows what apps and sites high school Gen Z’s are spending time on to learn about higher education. Please note that Facebook although trending downwards is still used a lot while Instagram appears to be trending up.popular social media platforms                                                                                                     Image 3

Now that we have established that Gen Z’s consume a lot of media through social media, one wonder’s about all the other websites they visit and how effective paid ads are. “67% of seniors and 68% of juniors saw paid ads for Colleges and Universities while 41% of seniors and 45% of juniors clicked on paid ads.” This goes to show that paid advertising is a very strong tactic in getting in front of potential students. The top five sites where students are clicking on these ads are shown in the image 4.top 5 sites                                                                                                     Image 4

With this data in mind we encourage higher education institutions to allocate their paid social spend based upon the most effective and efficient means of reaching both Juniors and Seniors. This means placing a larger emphasis on Instagram and Youtube while also maintaining a presence on Facebook and Snapchat. For more information on how to make the most of your Social campaigns follow Glacier’s Education Marketing Blog.

To learn more on how today’s high school students interact with key media and post secondary marketing initiatives download our Gen Z Media Report.

We collected insights from 1,700 high school students on their media preferences for higher ed advertising. Access Report.


  1. Glacier Whitepaper
  2. Glacier Blog: Gen Z and Social Media: Insights for Marketing
  3. 2018 Marketing and Student Recruitment Report of Effective Practices (Rep.). (2018). Cedar Rapids, IA: Ruffalo Noel Levitz.
    - For image 2, 3 and 4

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