With over 900 community colleges in the United States, these 2-year public colleges serve over 5 million students every year. Community colleges are a popular choice for those seeking an associate’s or other 2-year degree as well as those hoping to save money while fulfilling general education requirements before transferring to a 4-year university. As such, community colleges serve a wide variety of students, including high numbers of first generation, older, and minority students.
As a community college admissions counselor (or other member of the admissions or marketing team), you know that it can be difficult to reach out to such a wide variety of students, especially during a global pandemic. Community colleges tend to attract students from the local community, and with more schools meeting online and in-person events being limited, it is more challenging for prospective students to visit even local colleges in-person. As a result, community colleges must adapt their marketing and admissions strategies to reflect the changing climate.
What to expect: How to recruit students to your community college
This article will discuss the specific strategies that community colleges can employ to better reach out to prospective students and promote their school. First, we will go over the specific attributes that should be emphasized when advertising for a community college. What are students looking for in a community college? Why should students choose community colleges in the first place? These are the questions you need to consider when designing a strategy for prospective student outreach.
Next, we will consider best practices for reaching out to prospective students. How can you best communicate with prospective students during a pandemic? Where do prospective students feel most comfortable interacting with colleges? This article will cover questions in relation to community colleges, though you can go over information for all universities here.
Finally, we will go more in-depth for how you can use video email to connect with prospective students. Our own video email platform, Covideo, is already used by multiple community colleges that have met with great success. Let us show you how you can also use Covideo to gain the attention of prospective students.
Why Community College?
So, what are students looking for in a community college? Generally, what attracts a student to a community college is a bit different than for a 4-year institution. Most students want to attend a community college nearby so that they can save money on rent, food, and other expenses. That being said, approximately 70% of community college students still apply for financial aid for help covering tuition and the cost of class materials. As such, your institution should still emphasize financial aid when communicating with prospective students. Let students know what kind of aid is available to them, whether institution-, state-, or federal-based. Be willing and ready to answer students’ specific questions about their financial situation and how your community college makes education more affordable.
Your admissions materials should also emphasize the variety of outcomes possible for community college students post-graduation. Many community college students transfer to 4-year institutions after completing general education coursework at community college. This is a great way for students to save money and ease into the college experience. In fact, according to numerous studies, community college students who transfer to university tend to perform just as well as students who started there. Advertise graduate success stories from your own community college to share with prospective students as well as specific ways that your institution can help them prepare for transferring to a university.
Other students pursue careers after graduating from community college and receiving a degree in their chosen field. Like with transfer students, you should gather success stories from your college’s graduates who have had successful careers where they used the coursework or skills they gained at your institution. Try to find alumni for each program that will share their story with prospective students. Students want to know about how their specific career interests can be furthered by their time at community college.
Still, others may attend community college to learn about a specific subject, brush up on knowledge, train vocational skills, or any other multitude of reasons. Since the reasons for attending community college may be as diverse as the students attending, make sure your office is open to answering specific student questions over email, the phone, or video chat. In your admissions materials, emphasize that community college is open for everyone, no matter their reasons or educational background. With smaller class sizes and professors who are focused on teaching instead of research, community college is an excellent choice for anyone hoping to further their education or gain new skills.
How to Reach Out to Prospective Students
Now that you know what to emphasize when communicating with prospective students, you need to know what medium to use when reaching out to them. As community colleges tend to service primarily local students, it is important to have ties with local high schools and businesses so that people in the community know about your institution and trust it. That being said, online communication is paramount when connecting with prospective students, especially younger ones and especially during the pandemic. Here are the 3 best platforms/media through which you should focus your student outreach efforts.
Email is the most popular way to contact prospective students for all colleges. 50% of prospective students chose email in a survey that asked how they most wanted colleges to initiate contact with them. However, not any old email will do. Your emails to students should be personalized and focus on the information they want about your institution, so you should emphasize the topics discussed above like financial aid, transferring to university, job prospects, and course offerings.
Social media is another popular way to catch the attention of prospective students. Instagram and Tik Tok are especially popular among younger prospective students, though having a Facebook presence is still a good idea for community colleges as they typically have a larger older student enrollment. Social media presents the perfect opportunity to widen your reach and use bite-size media to catch the attention of prospective students. You can share tidbits of information about courses and financial aid while also showing pictures and videos of classrooms and other student areas.
Video is another popular medium for advertising to college students. Prospective students use YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to watch videos about colleges. Video is especially useful during the global pandemic as colleges can use videos to create more personable experiences when communicating across distance. Short videos that are a minute or two in length are an ideal way to introduce students to your school and invite them to seek more information by contacting an admissions counselor or going to your school’s website.
In summary, college admissions counselors and marketers should use email, social media, and video to appeal to students online and advertise their community college. However, there is one more format you can use to best appeal to prospective students: video messaging, also known as video email.
Covideo: The Best Video Messaging Platform for Community College
Covideo is a video messaging platform that community college admissions teams can use to send videos over email or text to prospective students. With Covideo, you can embed personalized videos directly into email and text messages. You can also record videos on desktop and mobile to send over email and text. Your video will appear as a short GIF in the body of the message. Then, when your recipient clicks on the video, they will be redirected to a custom landing page or website overlay of your choice where they can watch the full video. For colleges, you can use the website overlay feature to show your video over your college’s website, so prospective students can easily check out the website after they finish your video.
Additionally, you can include clickable CTA buttons at the bottom of the video to direct prospective students to their next steps, such as scheduling a meeting with an admissions counselor. Recipients can also reply to your video with their own video email even if they don’t have a Covideo account. And best of all you can use video analytics to keep track of which prospective students are clicking on your video as well as what parts they rewatch.
If you would like to know more about what Covideo can do for your community college, you can schedule a demo today. We are already used by many top community colleges including Ivy Tech, Oakland Community College, Iowa Western, Phoenix College, and many more. Join their ranks and learn how video email can help you reach more prospective students and improve your admissions team’s outreach strategies.