Understanding how High School Students are Researching Higher Education Institutions in 2020
In the rapidly changing landscape of high school advertising, it is important to meet your students on the right platforms, at the right time and place.
Academica Group and Glacier surveyed 1,397 high school students in January 2020 exploring high school students’ usage of marketing and branding resources for postsecondary institutions. These students primarily came from Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. This study built off the findings of the 2019 survey into how today’s high school students interact with key media and postsecondary marketing initiatives.
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How High School Students are Researching Higher Education Institutions
While prospective students at the top of the recruitment funnel may be engaging with institutions through social media, this is not the only key to your success. Among the students we surveyed, only 32% said they currently follow a college or university on social media, and about half report using social media/ online forums (51%) to learn about colleges/universities.
What's most important to remember here is the different rates of social media platform usage. We found that students who use social media to learn more about higher education options typically use Instagram (72%).
However, when we look at the full range of resources, students most commonly use institutional websites (70%). Other common avenues of information include attending high school visits, booths, and presentations from recruiters (56%) and viewbooks/brochures (54%).
As was the case in 2019, there are important differences between students in different grades: By grade 12, students are much more likely than their younger counterparts to be attending high school visits, booths, and presentations from recruiters (62%), university/college fairs (53%), and visiting campus (52%).
This further supports the need to develop a tiered approach to marketing, as face-to-face interactions are essential to this group. When students and institutional staff can't meet face-to-face, streaming platforms can accommodate those meetings through a new venue. Live streaming recruitment events will likely become an integral conversation tool given the evolving higher education landscape.
Viewbooks are also used more by grade 12 students. What's important to note here is that viewbooks do not follow the same digital marketing trend when it comes to engaging with high school students: more students prefer to interact with physical viewbooks (48%) versus digital ones (23%). Previous research we've conducted suggests that prospective students' preference for physical viewbooks like being able to make notes, highlight key information, and share with their family members and friends.
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