“Is college even worth it anymore?” That’s an idea that gets circulated with increasing frequency and if you take a look at the numbers, it’s not hard to figure out why. People all over the country struggle through five to six-figure student loans. There’s inflation. Rising homeownership costs.

Every year it seems that the ingredients for financial well-being become less accessible. Does it still make sense to borrow a ton of money for a college degree?

Marketing professionals working to generate interest in higher education need to have answers to that question. It needs to be not just convincing but punchy and easily digested.

In this article, we take a look at the intricate process of marketing higher education degrees.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

DEI-related considerations are paramount in making college more accessible and inviting for everyone. Diversity, equity, and inclusion-driven decision-making reflect the fact that there are many factors racial minorities take into account when they determine if a product or service is a good fit for them.

Most modern universities will not maintain any overtly racist practices. However, their messaging may inadvertently discourage certain segments of the population from accessing their services.

Little things add up. For example, is the language that gets used in marketing materials culturally sensitive? Do the photographs on the website or ad copy reflect a wide range of different people? These considerations can make a very real difference in how comfortable minority students feel in considering a university.

Emphasize School Culture

It’s important to keep in mind what drives students in their decision-making. They want their degree, of course, but they are also not always thinking long-term. What ultimately makes the choice for many incoming freshmen is the experience they will have at school.

Every university has its own culture. When students find an atmosphere that suits their personality, it increases the likelihood that they will be happy and successful at school.

What qualities make your school unique? Is the focus primarily academic? Is it steeped in rich tradition? Is there a vibrant social or Greek influence that bears mentioning?

These factors may influence decision-making more than academic or career outcomes.

Publish Informational Content

Informational marketing content is a great way to reach incoming students as they think about the next phase of their lives. Higher education is a much bigger purchasing decision than say, deciding on a new cell phone.

Impulsivity does not factor in the same way it might for other spending decisions. Potential students may gravitate toward educational content. Blog posts. Podcasts. News articles. By producing helpful, informative content, you establish trust with potential students. You also help attract people who will genuinely benefit from the program that you are promoting.

College is a four-year endeavor. As a marketer, your goal should not be simply to attract as many people as possible. It should be to generate marketing content that reaches the RIGHT people. Students who will benefit from and thrive in the program they choose.

Information-driven marketing content helps potential students make more informed enrollment decisions.

Leverage Social Media Effectively

Telling a marketer to use social media is like reminding your loved one to breathe and drink water as they leave the house for work. Obvious. What’s less obvious? How to use social media in a way that legitimately generates results. There are literally BILLIONS of accounts spread amongst the many platforms now available. While colleges can gain good online traction, they must compete for their audience’s attention the same way anyone else would.

  • Make regular posts: Establishing a rhythm for your content uploads is important both for algorithms and for establishing your audience’s expectations. People viewing your content will have an easier time finding it if you stick to a routine. The platform itself, meanwhile, will most likely reward accounts that produce consistent posts as this quality helps establish authority and authenticity.
  • Time those posts well: It’s important to upload content during the times that your audience is most active online. Just having a ton of followers is not enough to ensure that they will see your posts. If you upload content when they are offline, it will get buried beneath dozens, even hundreds of other posts.
  • Data paves the way: Use your data to constantly tweak and finetune your social media ad campaigns. Most platforms provide free or low-cost analytic software to business accounts. This will be a helpful way to make sure that your efforts are consistently aligned with your objectives. However, it does require a willingness to constantly revise and rethink what you are doing.

Another thing that significantly boosts social media engagement? Acknowledging your audience directly. Some of the most successful brands publicly respond to all questions they receive on social media. Sometimes, this will mean answering a question directly on the platform. Other times, it may mean acknowledging that you received the message and directing the person to a resource more appropriate for handling their concern.

Personalized social media interactions accomplish several things. First of all, they establish a personalized relationship with you and your audience. That connection is always important, especially when you are marketing something as personal as a college education.

It also ensures transparency. Social media users can look at your response and see that you take questions and concerns seriously. Finally, your online responses may serve as a resource for other people who had similar concerns but never thought to reach out.


A marketer’s goal is never just to bring people in. It’s to find good fits. This is particularly true in the world of higher education, where each student represents a significant investment in resources and infrastructure. Many universities very literally cannot afford to spend a lot of money attracting students who don’t wind up completing their programs.

While the admissions office certainly plays its role in avoiding that, marketing materials are many people’s first point of contact with a potential school. It’s important to get them right.