Colleges Get Creative with Recruiting Ads

Now that Labor Day has passed, students across the nation are back in school, cracking open new (and expensive) textbooks. Classes at the University of Minnesota (where I’m a student) started Tuesday. With the fourth largest student body in the nation, the U of M Twin Cities boasts 50,000 students alone. What made all these people want to enroll here? What made me decide to attend the U of M? Come to think of it, what makes any student want to attend any particular school? The answer to that is simple—college recruiting ads.

Each year, colleges and universities in the US welcome millions of incoming freshman. Once they’re settled in, administration breathes a sigh of relief—and starts the whole recruiting process all over again. Colleges and university officials work harder every year to sell themselves to prospective students, and as well they should. With tuition costs on the rise, a four year degree can cost over $100,000. Competition is fierce for students.

A recent Ad Age article profiled a couple colleges that are re-vamping their television recruiting ads.

For example, UCLA has enlisted the help of Paul Keye & Partners to produce ads that feature alums talking candidly about how they knew UCLA was the school for them. 

Prestigious west coast Ivy League Stanford University teamed with Interpublic Group of Cos. Dalley Associates to produce 3 new TV ads about important inventions from Stanford. 

Television ads aren’t the only things colleges are trying out. Many schools are using online technology to develop blogs, live chat sessions and websites devoted to persuading prospective students towards choosing a particular institution. Even smaller private colleges are using the Web to reach out. For example, a college in my hometown uses live chat sessions to talk to potential students. Check it out on this site, or view MIT recruiting blogs here.

Clearly, universities all over the US are devoting resources and marketing dollars to the recruitment process (also known as “enrollment management”).  A website called Suite 101 cited a CNN.com article noting that the average four-year private college spends over $2,000 on successfully recruiting a single student.

Nice, but I’d rather they’d put that money toward decreasing the costs of my textbooks…

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