Today, competition is fierce among colleges to reach recruitment targets because future-students have so many options. To bring in new admissions (and income from tuition fees), your university needs to stand out as a unique, attractive option.

Choosing a college is a huge decision. That’s why high school grads want to feel a connection with the campus where they’ll be spending so much of their time and money – and feel confident they made the right choice. As a college marketer, you need to present a strong, positive image of your school online to attract these students.

Video is the most effective format to connect with prospective students, and to show them what makes your college the right choice. In the Kaltura survey, 78% of education providers said that video has a positive ROI when used to attract the right students to their institution.

In this article, we’ll explain why video is essential to your college recruitment plan, and how to execute it well. Then, we’ll break down the best types of college recruitment videos and why they work. Equipped with this knowledge, you'll be ready to create your first recruitment video and ace your college admission targets!

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Recruitment videos capture the college experience

Put yourself in a student’s shoes. Imagine you’ve got ten brochures from a variety of colleges, all full of information about the amazing profs, beautiful campuses, and meal programs they offer. All that paper has been sitting around your room, but you’re so busy that you haven’t had time to read through it all.

Now, picture this: you’re scrolling through Instagram and see a targeted video shared by your dream school. It features someone your age sharing their experience on a beautiful campus, hanging out in the cafeteria, and connecting with their teachers.

Which of these scenarios do you think is more likely to make an impression?

Video has the power to grab the viewer’s attention, and engage their emotions to tell a story. Instead of just telling potential students how great your school is, video allows you to to show them in an easy-to-digest format

Today's prospective college students are mostly younger Millennials and Gen Z — true digital natives who spend a lot their time online consuming video via YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms. Sharing video content on these platforms will boost your college's visibility and help you engage with potential recruits.

And the pandemic has influenced these trends even further. Right now, many international students — who count for a huge portion of student fees — aren’t even able to visit campuses, forcing many schools to pivot towards virtual events. So what could be more useful and effective than a dynamic video that brings your campus to life for those who can't visit it for real?

Creating college recruitment videos is more accessible than ever

We know how powerful video is, but sometimes it’s hard for higher ed marketing teams to embrace it. They may see video as too challenging to create themselves, or too expensive and time-consuming to outsource to professional video crews.

But with the various video creation platforms now available, video marketing has become simple, accessible and affordable for colleges.

Equipped with a recruitment video maker like PlayPlay, your marketing teams can turn any message into a compelling video. Sharing regular, engaging content online will nurture a strong connection with prospective students and help you reach your student recruitment goals.

But what makes an effective college recruitment video that can boost admissions? Let’s find out!

7 best practices for effective college recruitment videos

Effective videos come down to a clear and compelling story. No matter how well-produced your video is, if you don’t know what you’re trying to say, you won’t get the results you want. So before you start, hone in on your message and make sure you understand the purpose of your video.

Of course, your message should start with what sets your school apart and makes it special — but it doesn’t stop there. Is this a general brand-building video, a campus tour, or something else? Check out the examples of the best recruitment videos in the next section of this article.

But first, note down these best practices for creating a great college recruiting video:

1. Write a script

Once you know your message, it’s all about inspiring, engaging, and relatable content. Younger audiences value authenticity, and they’ll stop paying attention if a video is slow, boring, or overly promotional. If you feature real students and faculty, write a general, flexible script but allow them to speak in their own words — awkward, scripted-sounding dialogue will have viewers tuning out.

2. Use highest-quality footage

Students will be spending a lot of money to attend your institution, so you need to put your best foot forward. But great video is accessible whatever your budget — with a few affordable accessories, you can even get professional-looking footage and audio from an iPhone!

3. Add music to instill emotions

Complement your footage with music that will set the mood for your video. Ask yourself what kind of video you want to create and how the music can evoke the right emotion. A campus-tour video, for example, will need an upbeat and motivational tune. On the other hand, an interview video with a college professor might require a more mellow, reflective sound.

4. Add subtitles to increase accessibility

Not only do subtitles make your video more accessible to the hearing-impaired and prospective international students, but they allow the video to be enjoyed even if the viewer’s phone is on mute.

5. Finish your video with a call to action

Even if it’s as general as an invitation to visit the college website — you want to inspire viewers and lead them towards a logical next step. Where should they go to find out more?

6. Adapt your video to different platforms
What works on one digital platform may not work on another, so you'll need to adapt your video to each one. Long-form (over 3 minutes), horizontal videos are perfect for websites and Youtube, while short-form (less that 1 minute), vertical videos typically perform well on Instagram and TikTok.

7. Analyze the performance of your video

Did prospective students watch your video? Did they engage with it? There's plenty of ways to analyze the performance of your videos and figure out what's working and what's not.

Now, let’s check out some of the best types of college recruitment videos and get inspired!

Examples of effective college recruitment videos

‘Day in the life’ student videos

COVID day(s)-in-the-life of a Harvard College First-Year

NYU Snapchat Tour

These vlog-like videos help students envision daily life at their new college. Millennial and Gen Z viewers are used to this casual style of video, and they’re perfect for social media.

In the example above, NYU even let students take over their Snapchat to share their campus lives!

AMAs/livestreams with faculty

Racial justice livestream from Harvard

This is a great, engaging way to show off your staff and faculty’s expertise. Imagine giving potential students the chance to ask your professors direct questions about the topics they’re most excited about — maybe even subjects they could major in one day.

Campus Tours

NYU Campus Tour

U Chicago Virtual visit

Quality of education comes first, but the reality is that students care about the campus where they’ll be spending so much time. These videos show students around in a real-time, authentic way, and they’ll only become more important in a post-pandemic reality.

Student and alumni testimonials

Toulouse School of Management promotes its Master in Finance programme (made with PlayPlay)

NYU: Alumni at work

What a powerful way to prove the value of your education! In this type of video, students and alumni share their experiences at your school, and talk about the difference it made in their lives. You can feature current students talking about their educational journey, or grads who can show the impact their education had on their career.

You can either present one in-depth interview, as NYU did above, or cut together several testimonials into a single compelling video. Because social proof is a key element of marketing psychology, this is a very powerful type of video for driving enrollment.

History, facts, and ‘did you know’ videos

Cornell: Glorious to View

Becoming Stanford: The Making of an American University (1999)

If your school has a storied history, why not build credibility by emphasizing it? These videos can feature historically significant alumni, the history of your institution, or even the history of your campus!

However you go about it, the goal is to show potential students you have a world-class reputation.

Event recaps and teasers

Columbia Welcomes JAY-Z on Campus to Launch a New Lecture Series

University of Southern California: Year of Athletics - 2021 (made with PlayPlay)

Event teasers and recaps give viewers a little taste of the fun, lively energy of campus life.

Whether it’s the pride of a graduation ceremony, a weekly campus roundup, or even welcoming a celebrity guest (as Columbia did above), event videos get potential students excited about your culture.

Sports are also a huge part of college life and promoting this culture can attract new recruits. This sports highlights video by USC celebrates the achievements of their teams throughout 2021, introduces college coaches, and encourages new students to get involved in 2022. Need new players for your college football team? Create an event video to spread the word!

Creative commercials

University of Oregon — Explore the power of "if"

Boston College | Special Delivery | Class of 2022

These brand-building videos push the limits of what a recruitment video can be. With original concepts, great production value, and creative art direction, these commercials sum up what a college or university is all about. While these videos tend to be very well-produced, creating them yourself is still within reach.

Think about the special feeling or on-campus atmosphere that sets your school apart from any other. How can you capture that feeling and transform it into in a compelling story?

College recruitment and video: a perfect match

As these videos show, there’s a whole range of possibilities for creating college recruitment videos. How you approach video depends on your goals, your budget, and your school’s priorities. But no matter what, there’s a type of video that you can easily create to help you achieve your college recruitment goals. Discover our article on how to make a job offer so the college students you have approached can not say no.

With the tools available today, any marketer can create exciting, authentic recruitment videos that tell a compelling story and get students eager to enroll. With a little creativity and willingness to try new things, you’ll have an amazing college recruitment video ready in no time.

And if you need more tips on the subject, check out our webinar 7 Ways to Transform Your College’s Social Media Strategy with Video.

If you want to know more about recruiting in general, find out how to make an onboarding video for new employees.