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The Glacier TeamMay 22, 2019 10:30:00 AM4 min read

How Gen Z Wants Higher Education Institutions to Communicate

- 4 min read -

"Communicating with Gen Z" Teen male looking at laptop screen

How Gen Z Wants Higher Education Institutions to Communicate

Understanding Gen Z is a huge part of higher education marketing. Institutions, recruiters, and advertisers need to look at what Gen Z wants and how to communicate with them. Gen Zs are determined and opinionated, and they know what they want.

As part of our quest to become the leading authority on Gen Z, we recently sat down with a focus group of high school students to discuss their communication preferences and how they want higher education institutions to address them.

Be Professional, Not Casual

Gen Zs don’t want recruiters to speak to them casually or try to act like their peers. They find that approach disingenuous and off-putting.

Instead, our focus group expressed that they want higher ed institutions to maintain a formal, professional approach.

"Keep it formal" and book background

Don’t be afraid to stick to formality and convey information to prospective students in academic terms; Gen Zs will appreciate the professionalism and feel a strong sense of respect for your institution.

Not All Ads are Equal

A common truth that was very clear from our discussion with the students was that they detest pop-up ads. They are busy, focused, and do not appreciate being bombarded with ads they have no control over.

One of our sample students even told us that she deleted the YouTube app due to ongoing ads.

Of course, advertising is necessary, but not all ads are created equally. The focus group responded much more favorably to ads on Snapchat that were less obtrusive. They appreciated that they were in control over these ads and pointed out that if the ads were relevant to them they were happy to engage.

"Give Snapchat a try" and yellow background of Snapchat on a smart phone

Higher ed marketers can learn an important lesson here; sink more effort into advertising on platforms that provide a more user-friendly ad method. Showcasing your institution via these mediums will attract the interest of prospective students rather than turning them away.

Recruit Actively To Stand Out

The students wanted recruiters to be more active in seeking students out. They expressed frustration at recruiters who visit campuses and sit behind their table waiting for students to come to them with questions. Additionally, many campus visits take place during busy lunch times when students have other things to do. They don’t want to be forced to seek you out during their spare time. Make your recruiters as available as possible and consider coordinating with campuses about more efficient times to visit with students.

Most of the students we spoke with agreed that they would not even consider approaching a table representing a university they were unfamiliar with. Recruiters need to take initiative, get out from behind their tables, and interact with prospective students, especially if they are representing lesser known institutions.

Copy of Blog_CC Change Perceptions 2 (2)

Additionally, they need to take steps to separate themselves from the masses. Many prospective students face information overload; there are so many options for higher education and they all have a similar approach. College fairs can be frustrating and overwhelming.

Our focus group said that doing something to stand out is crucial; draw students in through games, trivia, or prize wheels. Active engagement is a great way to stand out from the crowd and be remembered.

Use Influencers and Mentors

When it comes to Gen Z, influencer-focused marketing is a key strategy. The vast majority of Gen Zs trust the influence of someone who has already gone through an experience that they are considering.

Utilizing current and former students is a great way for higher education institutions to tap into that peer influence drive.

The students we spoke with agreed that knowing someone who attended a university they are interested in is a factor in choosing a school; it helps them visualize what life would be like on campus. They liked the idea of current college students to speak with them about their experiences at school.

"Consider Peer Influence" and student smiling

Prospective students would welcome videos showcasing alumni or current students as part of college fair days. Using brief videos to showcase campus life, tours, and interesting tidbits from courses would appeal to recruits and provide them with valuable information about your institution.

Additionally, our group expressed a desire to have mentors that could assist with the transition from high school to university. If your school offers a mentorship program, have recruiters mention that at college visits or include details in printed and online materials.

Putting These Tips Into Practice

Incorporating these tips into your higher education strategy can help draw new potential recruits to your school, and Glacier would love to help.

As leading experts on Gen Z marketing, we can assist you with formulating a holistic marketing approach that factors in the latest marketing trends and our own insights. Contact us today for help with elevating your student advertising techniques.

P.S. Follow us on LinkedIn for tips, tricks, and industry updates.

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