The world of higher education is changing fast. A college degree is becoming increasingly expensive, and according to Pew, Gen Z is on track to becoming the most educated generation yet. The Association of International Educators (NAFSA) reported in 2022 that as international student interest in foreign education is projected to increase, competition among popular higher education destinations, especially those in the west, is going to hit fever pitch as we move forward.
There are a lot of students looking to join degree programs, and Gen Z is a tough crowd. Students born after 1997 expect more from brands — higher education institutions included. They are skeptical until they are assured of a shared value system between them and the brands they consider; and place a premium on authenticity. Authenticity in this context involves three dimensions: of quality commitment, sincerity and heritage.
We’re looking at a competitive academic landscape, with department heads and faculty members at esteemed institutions (such as the University of Virginia, George Mason and George Washington University) having no dearth of quality commitment, sincerity and heritage. But institutions today face a unique challenge: with numerous departments boasting renowned faculty and world-class curricula, how can they stand out?
How can they showcase the exceptional qualities of their programs and attract the brightest minds to their sector of learning? There’s a lot of information to put together, and it has to be communicated in a way that resonates with students.
Video marketing is the best way to recruit students. Gen Z loves videos, specifically those that are under 1 minute long. With the format’s ability to engage, inform, and inspire, short and long-format videos can provide a dynamic platform for showcasing the best aspects of your degree program.
So how can higher education institutions leverage video production? Here are 7 ways.
1. Highlight the Work of Faculty
Faculty members, especially those in STEM, often engage in research that extends beyond the classroom walls. They’re actively publishing in prestigious journals and contributing to advances in their respective fields. Universities can use video to effectively showcase their accomplishments, offering prospective students an exclusive glimpse into the work their future professors are undertaking — that they may eventually be a part of.
This helps potential students identify with the department’s research focus, aligning their aspirations with the expertise of the faculty. Moreover, these videos can inspire students by demonstrating the wide array of opportunities that await them after graduation, illustrating the real-world impact of their chosen degree program.
2. Walk Through Your High-Tech Facilities
As the generation with almost no memory of life before mobile phones, Gen Z craves interactive, hands-on learning experiences driven by technology, and prize colleges with advanced tech. Colleges can use video to display the resources, facilities, and programs that different departments have to offer. Whether it’s state-of-the-art lab equipment in the sciences, advanced engineering software, or immersive journalism programs with modern newsrooms, videos can effectively highlight these assets and entice potential students.
By offering an engaging and informative visual tour of facilities, universities can spark excitement among potential students about the resources they could have access to. Showcasing new innovations and how they’re used not only demonstrates a department’s commitment to staying current with industry trends, but also indicates its dedication to providing students with a robust and relevant educational experience.
3. Showcase Student Life
In the process of selecting the ideal degree program, prospective students often seek a genuine understanding of the day-to-day experiences and opportunities available to them. Video production serves as an invaluable tool in capturing and presenting the diverse perspectives and accomplishments of current students. By featuring their projects, extracurricular activities, internships, and testimonials, universities can offer an authentic glimpse into the vibrant campus life and academic experiences that lie ahead.
Viewing relatable experiences of existing students through video makes the college journey feel tangible. In keeping with Gen Z’s exacting standards of authenticity, the best way to present these experiences is through user-generated content, or video content that’s made in the point of view of, or by existing students. According to Deloitte, 57% of Gen Z-ers say they spend more time watching user-generated video content online.
By witnessing the successes and personal growth of current students, potential enrollees can appreciate the transformative impact of a university’s degree program on both their academic and personal lives.
4. Share Videos of Special College Events – Such as Visits by Well-Known Speakers and Influential Individuals.
Universities often strive to provide a comprehensive and stimulating educational experience by inviting esteemed speakers and influential individuals from various fields to share their insights and expertise. Video production can effectively capture these events, demonstrating a department’s commitment to broadening students’ perspectives and exposing them to a diverse range of ideas.
By providing free access to thought-provoking lectures, panel discussions, and interactive workshops featuring renowned experts, universities can emphasize their dedication to cultivating a well-rounded learning environment and rich intellectual atmosphere.
For instance, in 2019, Rock Creek Productions filmed a highlight video of the Department of Homeland Security’s Centers of Excellence (COE) Summit at George Mason University (GMU). A mix of b-roll and interview footage highlighted the importance of this network of institutions, GMU included, in tackling known and unknown homeland security challenges.
In showcasing the experiences that lie beyond the classroom, video production can play a vital role in attracting ambitious students who are eager to learn from the best and make the most of their academic journey.
5. Share Faculty Achievements and Awards
The reputation of a university department is significantly influenced by the accomplishments and accolades of its faculty members. These achievements and awards can bolster a department’s credibility, often setting it apart from competitors in the eyes of recent high-school grads. By highlighting the recognition and honors received by the faculty, a promotional video can effectively convey the department’s commitment to excellence, innovation, and thought leadership.
Displaying these accolades instills a sense of trust in potential students and signals the high-quality education and mentorship they can expect to receive. These students are more likely to gravitate towards a department that takes pride in its faculty’s expertise and accomplishments, as this speaks to the institution’s ability to foster academic growth and success.
By leveraging video to showcase faculty achievements, universities can strengthen their appeal to discerning students seeking a top-tier education and a supportive environment to thrive in.
6. Spotlight Alumni Stories
Alumni are a huge asset to a higher education institution, and when they’re well-known, they can put a face on it. Their success stories serve as authentic testaments to the value and impact of the education offered by your university. Having experienced the academic journey first-hand, alumni make terrific brand ambassadors for their alma mater. They not only provide relatable and inspiring examples of what prospective students can achieve but also foster a sense of trust in the institution’s ability to prepare graduates for real-world success.
By sharing their personal experiences, career trajectories, and accomplishments, alumni can illustrate how the university’s degree programs have shaped their lives and contributed to their professional growth. These candid narratives can resonate with prospects, offering them a glimpse into the potential opportunities and benefits that await them. Moreover, showcasing the diverse paths that alumni have taken can inspire potential students to envision a world of possibilities for their own futures.
7. Hold a Virtual College Tour
In the post-pandemic era, virtual college tours have become an indispensable asset for universities. They offer a safe, accessible, and engaging alternative for students who may be unable or hesitant to participate in traditional in-person visits. Through video-marketing, universities can expand their reach to a diverse audience across the globe, breaking down geographic and financial barriers – a huge benefit to international students. The flexibility and convenience of video tours not only benefit universities in terms of cost-effectiveness and adaptability but also ensure that they remain attractive and relevant in an increasingly digital and competitive academic environment.
But that’s not all. Virtual tours allow institutions to take control of the story they tell prospects and allow them to collect analytics data on the demographics and interests of their website visitors. We’ve written in detail about how colleges can utilize virtual tours to promote themselves here.
Let Rock Creek Productions Help You Shine
To stand out in a competitive higher education market, you need to tell compelling stories that resonate with prospective students–and video marketing can help you do that. At Rock Creek Productions, we understand the importance of a captivating and engaging visual experience to communicate your university’s unique offerings.
We’ve been helping universities like George Mason and Virginia Tech tell authentic stories to stand out for years, and our video production in Washington D.C. can help you do the same.
We’re an award-winning production company and studio based in Asheville and Virginia, and located close to Washington D.C. Interested to see how we can help you? Contact us today!