Connecting With the Next Generations
August 28 2020
Colleges are finding it harder to connect organically and in a meaningful way with prospective students. Most things aren’t going to resonate with your typical high schooler. Their world is filled with Fortnite, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, etc.
The average student knows they want to go to college. They might have an idea of whether or not to move out of state and what field of study to pursue. Oftentimes it will come down to money, proximity and major. But beyond that there isn’t much else that’s driving their choice.
That’s a shame because the information they need to make a well informed and emotionally intelligent decision is out there. They just aren’t getting the message.
Why is that?
The fault doesn’t lie with the universities. Not yet anyway.
Now that’s not to let them off easy. They certainly have their work to do. For hundreds of years universities have relied on the simple things. Word of mouth, sports teams, parent influence, prestige, local presence, etc.
For a while we only had what was available to us. The internet was new, broadcasted sports and tradition still remained strong. I went to IU because my parents loved Bobby Knight and “didn’t raise no Boilermaker.”
That might seem silly but parent influence and limited exposure was the way things were. Now that’s no longer the case. Of course those principles can still apply and some students might derive their choice from them. But we are now in the age of “choose your own worldview”. Making these upcoming generations more and more particular with their connections.
So what do we do?
We look towards social media, websites, targeted advertisements, emails, texts, banner ads, etc. When it’s all said and done none of us like how hard we’re trying for minimal returns.
That’s because these kids are smarter than us.
Consider this metaphor. You’re a musical artist and you make an amazing song. You release it onto all of the platforms and it bombs.
Who’s wrong? You or the public?
It’s always you.
So with these tough critics out there, what can we do?
It’s quite simple really and it involves meeting them where they’re at. Consider any YouTube star, TikTok star, or insanely popular twitch streamer. What do they all have in common?
The ease at which they do it.
They don’t give off the impression that they want or need the viewership. They’re simply being themselves and are grateful for the following when it comes. This is huge because the ideology can be applied to anything.
Why do younger people gravitate towards the easy going?
How can they come to you without you asking them?
What can you do to show these students the ease in what you’re doing?
With these questions answered the dynamic completely changes. You will be speaking their language without asking them what they want to hear.
Only then will organic connections happen.