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College Marketing to Students During the Era of COVID

Along with on-campus tours, open-houses, and overnight visits, colleges and universities have always employed videos and digital strategies in order to market and attract prospective students. Using fun optics and upbeat stories, college videos often exhibit vibrant campus cultures. In the era of COVID, videos and digital communications are even more important because incoming students are less likely to step foot on a campus and connect in-person with current university staff and students. In place of an in-person tour, campus tours have moved online to assist students in making big decisions about where to apply and attend. Consequently, colleges and universities have upped their game in their marketing and messaging tactics. Many schools have released videos portraying both academic and student perspectives. One common theme, all videos have an uplifting tone and emphasize student life in the best, most positive ways.

Virtual Campus Tours

Since students will not be able to travel to a campus, many colleges and universities have released virtual college campus tours. These tours offer prospective students a glimpse into what the university has to offer and the basic layout of the campus buildings. Led by a current student at the university, a virtual tour is a compressed version of an in-person one. 

In this Union College campus tour video, current student Lauren takes the viewer around campus. She showcases important buildings such as the library and different academic buildings, and discusses important university details such as class sizes and getting involved. As important, Lauren also includes information about her own experience on Union’s campus.



Promoting University Athletics

In some college videos, schools use sports as an attracting feature. In a Clemson University  video, the spirited and championed football team is the central focus. The coach and players recall the excitement of football games at Clemson and the enthusiasm of each player and fan in the stadium. This type of video might appeal to incoming athletes or prospective students who value athletics on campus. 


Marketing Academics and Majors

For prospective students who are looking for a specific academic program, colleges are creating videos marketing different majors and academic opportunities in lieu of visiting various departments and speaking one-one-one with professors. In a Loyola University Maryland’s video, the university showcases their economics program. Loyola alumni discuss their personal experiences in the Economics Department and the opportunities that were available to them through this specific program.


Giving the Student Perspective

For many college-seeking students, there is no substitute for walking through campus, looking at what students are doing and how they are interacting. Many universities are trying to compensate for this by showcasing current students talking about their own individual experience on campus. These kinds of videos appeal to prospective students especially because they offer a current student’s own view about what life is like at the school. Some student-led videos give information about their favorite aspects of campus life. In this University of Michigan video, a student talks about her favorite study spot on campus. 



A profile of an individual student is another way to feature college life. The student has the chance to talk to the viewer about their time at their university from their studies to extracurricular activities, and general life on campus. In this University of Alabama video, a student gives her perspective on academic and social life at the University.  



To get students excited about going to a school, there’s nothing like showing the real emotions of being accepted to a college. This last video released by University of Southern California shows students sharing their first reactions to their acceptance letters. With the fun hashtag, #IGotInToUSC, this video conveys the excitement of getting into your dream school.



Video marketing in the world of higher education is more critical than ever to reach prospective students. Whether the video is highlighting the campus, the academic experience, or the overall student perspective, college videos in the time of COVID are attractive and powerful messaging tools.


circle-cropped  Guest writing courtesy of Emma Snyder