In today’s challenging economic landscape, where job opportunities are scarce, and student loan interest rates are soaring, marketers are forced to truly understand what moves the needle for engagement when reaching localized audiences.
One such strategy involves emphasizing the cost and value of community colleges as a competitive alternative to traditional four-year institutions within their direct market.
The Value of Community Colleges
Given rising costs of financing and perhaps the democratization of information, four year degrees are decreasing in demand across certain markets. In our opinion, this is the perfect opportunity for Community Colleges to amplify their voice to this audience of prospective students – speaking directly to the value propositions that most four year schools traditionally don’t focus on in their information sharing and application nurturing phases.
Strategies for Marketers
Each school should have an idea of the demographic and geographic profiles that have historically resonated with their brand. In addition to more regularly auditing the demographics of your page visitors across programs, deploying some of the pointers below will leave community colleges speaking to a broader audience than they historically have.
- Affordability as a Key Selling Point: Highlight the significantly lower tuition costs of community colleges compared to four-year institutions. Finding a way to directly communicate the differential in value and potential burden of financing should be front and center in your campaign RFI pages.
- Flexible Learning Options: Showcase the flexibility of community college programs. Many community colleges offer online courses, part-time options, and night classes to accommodate students who may be working or have other commitments. With the change in “hybrid” demands since 2020 – coupling flexibility with cost and opportunity is highly valuable to budget conscience rising seniors.
- Transfer Opportunities: Promote the seamless transfer pathways that community colleges often provide. Many students can complete their general education requirements at a community college and then transfer to a four-year institution to earn their bachelor’s degree, saving money in the process.
- Local Job Market Alignment: Emphasize how community colleges are closely connected to the local job market. Highlight partnerships with local businesses and industries, showcasing how students can gain relevant skills and access employment opportunities right in their communities. This is the key point that truly stands out and increases RFI conversion rates for our clients.
- Financial Aid and Scholarships: Inform potential students about the various financial aid options and scholarships available at community colleges. You need to make this information obvious and easy to digest. Most prospective students aren’t trained on loan agreements and costs, making it easier for them to understand your value.
- Success Stories: Share success stories of individuals who started their educational journey at a community college and went on to achieve their career goals. Talk about the advantages of starting with limited financial burdens and high probability career placement that a community college can offer.
- Addressing Concerns: Acknowledge and address the concerns that potential students may have about the quality of education at community colleges. Highlight accreditation, experienced faculty, and robust support services to alleviate these concerns. Speak to the end goal.
Some students will naturally want the four year experience. As the landscape of public opinion shifts and cost considerations against career outlook continues to become a rising concern for new students, community colleges are well suited to grow if they align themselves with the right message on the right channels.