GenZ is rethinking what its path to success should be. For generations, young adults were told that a traditional college education was the key to acquiring a good job, ensuring career progression, and achieving financial stability. The reality belies the sentiment. GenZers have repeatedly heard millennials lament that upon graduation, there were not only the promised jobs, but they were facing crushing debt from the exorbitant tuition.
It's no wonder that 75% of GenZ are questioning whether a traditional college degree is for them. 66% don't want to start out under a mountain of student loan debt before their first paycheck. With underemployment at a disheartening 40% of new college graduates, GenZ is looking at alternatives to fast-track them to career success and financial independence. For higher education providers, responding to the need is only part of the equation; getting the message to the right audience through digital marketing tactics is the differentiator.
GenZ College Trends
High-school and college-age students are more determined than ever to forge their own paths. They are less willing than previous generations to wait for years to gain the skills to begin their careers. The majority of these students feel that a non-traditional, continual learning approach is best. Options such as apprenticeships, technical programs, or certifications are more attractive.
It isn't only student debt that has this generation rethinking a traditional education route. According to one survey of 3,000 GenZ teens, the financial fallout from the pandemic prompted a third of participants to say they've decided not to pursue a 4-year degree. Since this group of teens has always had information at their fingertips, technology and self-education are second nature to them. GenZers don't see why they shouldn't be able to continue hands-on, tech-driven, self-directed learning to acquire the skills they need to do the jobs they seek.
Another significant shift is the trend for off-campus living. This budget-conscious group of young adults would rather live at home to save money and spend their time interacting with teachers and peers through online classes, meetups, tutoring, email, or web chats. Social media is a necessity for GenZ. 86% also believe colleges should have a significant social media presence, as that is a primary way the prospective students research their options.
How Can Higher Education Marketing Reach GenZ?
This tech-savvy generation has grown up with the allure of instant gratification through digital media. They've been able to interact virtually with friends and family. They could watch and rewatch their favorite programming on-demand. Many spent half of their high-school tenure learning virtually.
The question for many educators is how to market college to GenZ. Higher education providers must lean in to how they live, learn, and communicate. Colleges must show their value proposition through impactful content that addresses what is important to this generation.
The best way to reach and influence teens and young adults searching for learning opportunities is through digital marketing techniques, such as:
Web chat - WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and proprietary applications facilitate teacher/student and student/peer communication. Chatbots have been used for years for customer service applications and are becoming more important for higher education as virtual learning increases. It's also important to note that 75% of people prefer chat to other communication channels.
Email - Email is the most common way students reach out for questions as they get closer to enrollment. 83% of GenZ survey participants believed their email usage would increase within the next five years.
Video – Video marketing via YouTube or OTT is vital for your higher education marketing strategy. YouTube is the most watched video sharing site for 95% of GenZ viewers. Since this group of young adults engages in an average of two hours of "watching TV" per day, leveraging streaming services for your video content is an important outreach tool. It's important to note that GenZ considers streaming television programming as watching TV.
Social media - This generation has grown up online and is used to communicating with friends and family on social media. 66% of GenZ say that social media is essential in their lives. They are also avid followers of influencers, following their recommendations more than marketing content.
Wondering How To Market College to GenZ? Digital Channels Are Key
Generation Z has grown up with streaming, social media, and email. They are tech-savvy, and since they are focused on forging their own path, digital channels enable them to have more choices. If you want to reach and influence this group of young adults, you have to present your offerings in a way that resonates on the channels where they spend their time. The best way to craft an effective digital higher education marketing strategy is by working with a marketing partner that has the data attribution capabilities necessary to reach GenZ.