Attracting Gen Z Students to Your School

As each new generation comes of age, marketing strategies have evolved to ensure organizations meet their goals and resonate with their target audience. And higher-education admissions strategies are no different. Generation Z is a demographic with clear, modern values and technological savvy like no other generation.  Here, AMNY Education Marketing provides insights into how your higher education enrollment strategy can better connect with Gen Z.

Get to Know the Average Gen Z Student

Next in line after Millennials (1981 – 1996), meet Generation Z (Gen Z). This generation is made up of young people born after 1996 and is the most racially and ethnically diverse of any other generation before. Moreover, they’re projected to become the most educated group. Some additional aspects of this demographic include:

  • Digital savvy: From laptops to smartphones, this generation spent much of its lifetime with devices at their fingertips in a digitally driven and connected world.
  • Education: Research shows this generation is more likely to graduate high school and enroll in higher education, just like many of their parents.
  • Viewpoints: Gen Z shares many of the same pro-government, progressive worldviews of Millennials.
  • Values: Collaboration, authenticity, flexibility, pragmatism, and self-care are just a few of the key values of these young people.

So what does this mean for colleges and universities in terms of recruitment? While Gen Zers and Millennials share some characteristics, the higher-education recruitment strategy will likely need to pivot to truly resonate with today’s young people.

Balance Digital and In-Person Experiences

Growing up in a world where the Internet was always available changes the way Gen Z researches, communicates, and interfaces with others. Prioritizing digital higher-education marketing capabilities helps ensure you’re connecting with this demographic through the channels they use every day – just make sure the user experience is up to par. Seamless and intuitive user experiences are important for any target audience you’re trying to reach online, but it’s especially crucial in making good a first impression with people who’ve used technology their entire lives.

On the flip side, this generation also recognizes that there’s no substitute for face-to-face interactions. They want to fuel their interests and get involved. Hosting events and workshops that help students feel like a part of a community is beneficial – and promoting them across your marketing channels helps spread the word about these experiences.

Focus on Long-Term Value

Many Gen Zers may not be old enough to remember the Great Recession, but the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are very fresh in their memory. The oldest people within this demographic have seen how crises like this can affect the globe – and impact their livelihood (among other things). Some lost their jobs or took a pay cut during the pandemic, and many others watched someone in their household do the same.

With these experiences fresh in their mind, saving money and preparing for a secure future is essential for them. So, colleges and universities should drive home the long-term value of their degree programs and current trends in higher education. Examples include:

  • Help prospective students see how relevant school truly is in the roadmap of their future
  • Show them what the return on investment (ROI) may be after paying the high price of tuition
  • Publish data that illustrates how much graduates are projected to make in different roles
  • Highlight mentoring, career-building, and experiential learning opportunities

With Gen Zers shopping around for schools that present clear authenticity, being as transparent as possible in qualitative and quantitative value is important for meeting enrollment goals. They care less about campus amenities and comforts and more about the support your institution offers that will benefit them long term.

Highlight Diversity, Inclusion, and Community

In connecting with a highly diverse, social, and community-minded generation, it benefits colleges and universities to appeal to these characteristics through marketing. They often seek schools that are committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) and showcase their student body, campus culture, and support services through this lens. This can be done in many ways, such as:

  • Sharing personal student narratives on social media
  • Spotlighting staff and faculty in blogs
  • Showcasing cultural enrichment activities and events
  • Promoting international networking opportunities

Gen Z members want to join a community, learn from their peers, and be part of the larger picture. Taking these values into account within your marketing plan helps make your school stand out as an appealing option.

Begin Your Gen Z Higher Education Enrollment Strategy

Getting to know prospective students and what drives them to make higher education decisions is the first step toward increasing enrollment rates. Speak directly to Gen Z through your marketing campaign. At AMNY Education Marketing, our team specializes in crafting education-specific strategies for colleges, trade schools, private schools, and more. Contact us for more information about how we can help you connect with Gen Z.