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How Your Admissions Process Can Take Advantage of A Changing Media Landscape

StudentBridge Staff |May 05, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard, but it has had a unique effect on the cohort that enrolled in college in 2020. The pandemic made onsite visits a lot more limited and reduced the kinds of crowds usually seen during admissions events.

However, that’s not the only thing that has changed, and the biggest changes tend to look like slow shifts. Generation Z is the first generation to grow up in a world where smartphones are ubiquitous. Most of Gen Z has a smartphone available to them. The way they use media during the college search process has shifted, and in this article, you’re going to learn about some of these shifts.

Student Media Use During College Search

Most colleges and universities send pamphlets to prospective students, resulting in a giant pile of college mail that students must sift through.

Young people have largely stopped relying on snail mail as a primary way of receiving correspondences. While in the past, it was common for students to receive report cards, library notices, and other important pieces of information in the mail, now they can do almost everything online.

Does this mean that colleges and universities should abandon their pamphlets? Absolutely not! However, providing electronic alternatives will only help strengthen admissions efforts.

Personal email use is declining, and it’s not hard to see why. Email is a clunky format that hasn’t had any meaningful updates in decades. SMS and other forms of instant messaging are more likely to result in a prompt response. In a time when you can easily send a video message through an app and get a response nearly instantly, speed is important.

Of course, email is still not a thing of the past. Email is still used by students for school. According to a survey done by Campaign Monitor, it is estimated that 58% of Gen Zers check their email multiple times a day. But when you contrast that with millennials, you find a significant difference. About 75% of millennials surveyed reported checking their email multiple times per day.

It’s possible that kids going into college now will enter companies where apps like Slack replace most email correspondence. With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way people work, it’s possible that the workforce that Gen Z enters will be a vastly different one than what millennials got to experience.

Instant messaging is a way of life for Gen Z, and it makes sense why. Always having a smartphone in your pocket makes it easy to send messages and even easier to respond.

According to statistics provided by LivePerson, 70% of Gen Zers prefer to communicate via online messaging rather than in person, and 73% of Gen Zers report that they use their smartphones primarily for text and instant messaging.

How can colleges use this to their advantage? By providing secure ways for prospective students to communicate instantly with the school, you can increase the likelihood that they will engage. One way to do this is by integrating a live chat feature on your website so that prospective students can ask questions and get answered in real time. This provides the one-on-one engagement that Gen Zers are used to, while also allowing you to engage directly with prospective students.

It’s more critical than ever for colleges and universities to consider how they’re tailoring their admissions efforts to their target market. Although it’s easy to continue doing the same old methods repeatedly, embracing these new channels can help you connect with prospective students in a familiar, frictionless way.

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