Navigating the Currents of Learner Expectations: A Guide for Enrollment Marketers

Nothing speaks louder than silence. And the record low class attendance in US universities can be viewed as a reflection of the impact of Covid, as well as possibly a difference of opinion between students and professors on pedagogy

Students may not know pedagogical terms, but they have shown a bias towards interactivity. And marketers have seen how prospective students have shifted in their media behaviors (continued use of social media, streaming and on-demand entertainment), which can start to become indicative of the bias within the student body. If marketers are using social media and quick videos to highlight campus activities, it’s not really surprising that the students who come through the admissions cycle might not like to sit for a long lecture. When students have grown up with Netflix and other on demand entertainment platforms, their expectation is that learning should come to them when and where they want versus in a specific location at a specific time.

Without taking a side on which pedagogical approach is the best, enrollment marketers can still lean into the benefits that exist within their institution’s academics’ chosen approach. People still go to the movies in theaters (a lecture analogue, though perhaps indicating the need for great storytelling and presentation) and people still use a lot of interactive media (games, social media, chat). One does not have to preclude the other. There are all manner of prospective students who have different interests and approaches to their consumption of media, including educational content. 

  • Align prospecting audiences with learning style. Enrollment marketers can help select student prospect audiences who are more likely to enjoy or react positively to the types of content that would align with their academic style. 
  • Align messaging and content styles to learning. Messaging and content can reflect the differing approaches. 
  • Focus. This might mean saying “no” to some student audiences. That’s always terrifying to enrollment marketers, especially with declining enrollments and demographics but it might paradoxically yield better results from the better fit.

Prospective students weigh a multitude of factors when selecting an institution, with the nature of the educational experience being paramount. By embracing and promoting the unique advantages of their pedagogical approaches, institutions can guide students towards making informed decisions that ensure a mutually beneficial fit.

This strategy not only positions the institution as a thought leader in enrollment marketing but also as a beacon for students seeking an educational journey tailored to their evolving needs and preferences.