Are you ready to help the students and communities you serve make their comeback? With Governor Gavin Newsom’s California Comeback Plan and California Community Colleges Vision for Success, you have a unique opportunity to do just that.

But setting students up for success will take more than advertising. It will require colleges to establish a culture of care and support to guide students, build their resilience, and boost their confidence.

A critical first step? Invest in the research and strategy that will make it easier for students to navigate your processes and systems and ease their educational journey. Your communities are counting on you. And they’re worth it!

Continue reading to see education trends in California, learn more about research opportunities and other recommended services for supporting students, and access free resources that can help with your planning. 

Group of college students in a classroom

We’d love to learn more about the unique challenges you’re facing at your institution and talk through potential strategies for addressing those challenges. Request a free, 30-minute consultation with one of our experts by clicking the button below.

California Trends

Many colleges are searching for unique ways to reach prospects, especially considering Apple’s most recent move to eliminate data tracking from key apps has made targeting audiences more difficult. This means your strategy needs to be on point when it comes to not only exploring new tactics but also getting inquiries into your enrollment funnel to conversion.

Colleges have been trying on the following tactics for size:

Colleges are focusing on students already in their systems, with retention being the number 1 priority, but what about feeder programs such as GED, ABE, and Dual Credit? Many colleges are creating strategic communication plans for feeder programs that drive collaboration with these programs on campus.

Need support in developing your plan? Reach out to our experts!

Colleges are investing in more accurate student prospect mailing lists that allow specific targeting through direct mail and media buying. CollegeAPP combines both census and voter data to identify prospects within unique groups, but the biggest asset is its modeling feature, which allows us to see the intent of these individuals to attend college. These lists can be incorporated into your email campaigns and customer relationship management (CRM) targeting in your media buy to help bolster reach.

Want to learn more about how you can leverage this data in your marketing? Get in touch with us today!

Reaching Gen Z is especially difficult as they are an elusive audience on TikTok and other platforms, so colleges are getting creative in reaching them through influencer campaigns. Interact recently ran a campaign for the Inland Empire Desert Regional colleges, featuring high school influencers that had a 15% engagement rate. And in the spirit of “if you’ve got it, flaunt it,” MiraCosta College recently adapted their student ambassador and outreach group to take over their TikTok and Instagram Reels and to promote the college in a new way and extend the ambassadors’ role to modern social media platforms!

Contact our team of creative strategists today to learn how you can leverage opportunities with influencers to help drive enrollment on your campus.

Data Driven Input, Strategic Output

Getting your hands on the right data is all about listening to your students and stakeholders. At Interact, we help two-year colleges obtain data through efforts like our national Media Prefs survey and conducting unique research at your colleges and in your communities. We dig our heels in deep to learn why some student populations have a longer journey, what obstacles they face, and more.

“The Media Prefs survey brought to light all the theories we had about our changing audience, and showed us that the traditional media alone wouldn’t cut it anymore.”

Kate Kirkpatrick, Truckee Meadows Community College

48 California colleges participated in Interact’s Media Prefs survey last year (2020) to dive deeper into where students are spending their time and where they are showing up on media platforms. In our national data set, we are seeing TikTok on the rise, but for rural colleges, we are still seeing YouTube as the number one platform. If you’re looking into a new platform or communications and want to see how Media Prefs works for you, reach out to us and we would be happy to give you a demo and show you how the data can work for you!

You can download the executive summary of Media Prefs national data trends and an overview of insights for California Community Colleges in our Resources & Downloads section.

As we focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is even more important to understand the student journey from multiple lenses. Colleges are taking a deeper look into their enrollment pipeline and identifying prospects who may be more vulnerable than others so your outreach team can spend more time where it counts!

Learn more about how colleges are addressing vulnerable prospects by reviewing our Joliet Junior College, Santa Ana College ESL Program, and Orange County Community Colleges Career Education case studies.

COVID-19 and the promise of free college have changed the ways students enroll, and their student journey is LONGER. Colleges are investigating exactly why students dropped out and did not persist from semester to semester and why they didn’t show up to the first day of class. Identifying these trends at colleges has provided insights into where the college can improve their experience to get students to show up to their first day of class and continue to graduation.

Learn more about the challenges your students face by downloading the pipeline resources available in our Resources & Downloads section.

Everywhere and Nowhere – A Marketer’s Dilemma

Trying to get everyone on the same boat, rowing in the same direction can be a nightmare. That’s why one of the phrases we use lovingly is “we herd cats for a living.” 

This is because, as a marketer, you hold an expertise, a commitment to your institution, and your college’s best interest at heart, but it can be hard to bring stakeholders into owning the marketing mission of your college.

Ultimately, your strategy comes from making decisions—decisions that marketing leaders can help inform to bring everyone into the marketing vision and engage those who matter most at your institution.

Photo of diverse group of adults of all ages

Ever go to a conference with 1 million wonderful ideas and get stuck when you come back to your institution and don’t know how to get these things working for your own college? We’ve been working with college student services, marketing, financial aid, advancement, and research teams to ask hard questions around their current systems and guide conversations that make impactful change.

Reach out to our team to learn more about the training and team-building opportunities that are available.

Are all your departments that send student communications synced? Financial aid, counseling, first-year experience, student services, admissions and records, marketing…the list goes on and it’s not easy to coordinate materials. Colleges are investing in strategic communication plans that provide a comprehensive department and between-department plan for communicating with students, so nothing is dropped in onboarding, retention, or with stop-outs.

Learn more about how colleges are giving students a consistent and better experience throughout their journey by reading our case study featuring Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College.

Have you been monitoring your faculty engagement strategies? Faculty are on the front line with students every day and are key to student success and retention. We have seen colleges get creative by providing faculty with toolkits for student outreach. Better yet, colleges have been working to address their messaging by surveying students AND faculty to get internal buy-in around college messaging. This kind of internal buy-in has made a huge difference in creating pride around the college and starting a dialogue between marketing and faculty—one that encourages collaboration and focus on better supporting students.

Request samples of toolkits from our team here.

The State of Community College Marketing survey results ebook

2021-22 Community College Marketing Trends Survey

Do you have the resources you need to succeed in marketing your college? Last year, we surveyed over 70 community colleges during the summer and fall of 2020 in order to learn about impacts from the pandemic, college budget cuts, and trends within urban and rural college marketing departments. Participate in this year’s survey and get exclusive access to our national data that you can use to build and shape your marketing department at your college.

Participants of this year’s survey will receive the 2021-22 survey results eBook, and have the option to request the 2020-21 edition free of charge!