Students are talking.Here’s what they shared that you should know.
This fall, Interact Communications surveyed 34,000 students from community and technical colleges across 22 states. These students told us a lot about their communication and learning preferences, including how they feel about the shift to online learning in the pandemic. Here are five of the top takeaways to guide your decision making and bolster recruitment and retention in 2021.
1. Online Learning
Most want to be back in person.
Not surprisingly, if they had the choice, students would prefer mostly in-person instruction or 100 percent in-person instruction. They also rate online learning worse than traditional in-class learning in terms of quality of instruction. What can you do to fix this? According to student qualitative responses, your online classes need to provide more interaction, more information, and more instruction. It’s also good to know, however, that students (especially working adults) also believe that if you continue to offer more online courses (post-COVID), they’ll be able to finish their degree faster.
They’re checking college email more.
So step up the email blasts. Students are checking it more than in prior years. The number of students who indicate they check email frequently (5-6 times per day), and constantly (more than 6 times per day) is nearly 40 percent. Another 30 percent check it occasionally, meaning at least 3-4 times per day. Not bad! Even better, they’re reading their college-related emails thoroughly. That makes it an even more valuable tool for encouraging your current students to persist within and between semesters.
3. Social Media
YouTube is still king.
No matter the age, students are spending more time on YouTube than any other social media platform. More than 80 percent of all students indicate they’re on YouTube. So, be sure you have a YouTube presence. And if your advertising budget is limited, be sure YouTube is one of the platforms you are on continuously, to ensure you are there for students throughout their lengthy search process. Also, pay attention to TikTok. Its popularity is climbing fast.
4. More Social Media (We know you want to know about this)
They’re posting when you’re not working.
Students are on their social media apps the most between 6 p.m. and midnight. That’s not the time when most college marketers are working. Since students also expect a response to social media posts on your sites within a day, it might be time to restructure some hours for whoever manages your social media. At the very least, consider shifting some of their hours to evening. Or bring on a student intern to help. For more social media tips, check out our ultimate guide — Sustainable Social Media Marketing Strategies for Higher Ed: How to Keep Your Content Fresh and Flowing!
5. Image and Recruitment
They listen to their parents.
This might be a surprise for most parents to hear. But we have the data to prove it. Parents remain the most influential source on your students to attend your college. Other family members, including spouses, friends, teachers, and counselors, are also steering their decision making. So, think about how you can best reach these influencers to shape or change the narrative for them to guide students your way.
We hope this gives you some good food for thought as you plan your college marketing communication strategy. Reaching your students isn’t difficult when you know how they are consuming media. And this year, to help community colleges facing tight budgets and enrollment challenges, Interact is providing its custom Media Prefs services, a $3,500+ value, at no cost.
So, if you would like to participate or explore the Media Prefs tool, visit www.mediaprefs.com. Now is the perfect time to take control of your college’s advertising and marketing.