First-generation, low-income and BIPOC students need more than a catchy sales pitch.

These potential students struggle with the financial and practical aspects of returning to school. They need clear and reliable information about the potential benefits of a particular program, and the resources the college has to help them through the process.

The most effective way to reach students is with a content marketing strategy.

Whereas typical advertisements rely on short, punchy slogans to win over potential students, content marketing provides the engaging, detailed content focused on informing students about how community college programs can help them reach their goals and improve their lives without breaking the bank.

A successful content marketing strategy must focus on creating engaging content that answers the questions they are asking when considering going back to school.

Your content should:

1. Highlight programs which lead to local jobs that pay well.

Prospective low-income, first generation or BIPOC students may never have thought that college was for them, but most will be preoccupied with achieving financial stability in their lives.

Community colleges should highlight programs which do not take too long to complete, lead to solid career, and pay well. These careers should be explained in concise clear language, complete with current opportunities and salary ranges. Success stories featuring those who have overcome adversity and attained good jobs are highly effective.

2. Make all your students feel at home.

Many students struggle to find their place at community college, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Non-traditional students are already more likely to feel alienated from their peers, and often find campus unwelcoming. A study last year of at-risk, non-traditional students by Barnes & Noble College found that only 3% strongly agreed with the statement: “I have friends at my school”. Only 5% felt socially connected. Only 8% felt like they belonged at their school.

It’s important that your school highlight initiatives that help all students feel connected and part of the campus community. This can be achieved by getting prospective students on campus with a campus tour, and telling them more about campus life, events, and student organizations which may appeal to them. Promote your college’s counseling services, career placement, and business partnerships! Help them envision their future.

3. Show students extra resources that can help them succeed.

Over the past five years, College Promise-type grants grew sixfold to 337 local communities in 47 states and throughout 31 states. However, due to either the patchwork nature of these  programs or their limited marketing, many prospective students are unaware of the opportunities. 

Your community college marketing is most effective when it connects financial aid and careers together. Students are very likely to be balancing multiple commitments–to family, work, and school–and this information is critical. Your marketing should likewise feature your school’s flexible course offerings and support services, like childcare and food pantries, which can make a huge difference to completion.

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