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Marketing & Recruitment, Research

Reaching First-Generation Students on Your Website

students on computers DIY conceptA DIY Guide for Colleges and Universities

I have a college education, but even so, it didn’t take long for my high school senior and me to get tangled in the web of today’s college application process. If my daughter, with the help of an educated parent, can get confused and frustrated, just think of how first-generation students must feel without the resources and luxury of relying on a parent who has been through the process before.

Savvy college and university admissions counselors have caught on to this gap in college admissions recruitment, and many schools are now offering guided paths for first-generation students.

According to the 2018 E-Expectations Trend Report, first-generation students have less support from parents and welcome any and all communication channels available. They want to engage with your college or university. They are willing to share contact information and welcome all forms of communication.

2018 E-Expectations Chart
Source: 2018 E-Expectations Trend Report


Marketing Campaign for First-Generation Students

When designing a targeted campaign for first-generation students, consider these five points:

  1. The college process is new, so provide supplemental materials to educate them about the world of college applications. Links to common terminology and graphics depicting the steps of the application process are examples of how you can nurture and support their journey.

  2. Show and tell stories about students just like them. This helps an “If they can do it, I can, too” attitude kick in and gives first-generation students confidence that they, too, can apply and be admitted to college.

  3. Email them. Research shows that 78% of first-generation students click on emails. Interestingly, their online engagement with colleges and universities is less than non-first-generation students, perhaps because they don’t know how to research schools during their college application process.

  4. Be available. Encourage these students to reach out to your school with questions and make it easy for them to find contact emails and phone numbers. Generic information flows will not engage them and push them to enroll.

  5. Provide mentors. While 67% of prospective students with college-educated parents say that their parents help them consider college options, only 46% of first-generation students say that parents help them make decisions. Give first-generation students the opportunity to speak with both professionals and students in their fields of interest, a key part in guiding their decision-making.

Any comprehensive college or university marketing campaign will include engagement strategies for reaching first-generation students. If you need data to help shape your decisions, download the 2018 E-Expectations Trend Report.

Download report

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