May 1, National College Decision Day, is one of the biggest days in higher education admissions. The US deadline for college commitment is exciting, promising and a little stressful—the perfect precursor to the college experience.
As high school seniors look toward the future, they’re also looking to social media to share their excitement and celebrate their success—and their future alma maters are joining in on the fun. In honor of the almost-holiday, we’re breaking down some of the top social trends around College Decision Day.
Pick your platform
No two college experiences are the same and no two social platforms are either. This College Decision Day, we’re seeing both students and institutions embrace platform-specific features to announce college acceptances on social media.
The class of 2026 is probably the most digitally savvy set of students to ever walk onto a college campus. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re taking full advantage of platform features like TikTok sounds to announce the biggest news of their lives.
Sounds aren’t just for incoming students though. Colleges and universities are jumping in on trending sounds to expand their reach, like Cape Fear Community College did with this pre-decision day post.
Retweets and responses
Twitter has always been a great place to get the conversation started. Higher education social media managers used Twitter’s interactivity to bring prospective students into the conversation. Those efforts paid off.
Using Sprout Social’s Advanced Listening tool, we identified almost 3,800 Tweets that mentioned #NationalDecisionDay or #DecisionDay between April 15, 2022, and May 3, 2022.
But what’s most impressive is the 18,000 engagements those Tweets garnered. And since College Decision Day is one of the happiest days of the year, 98% of those Tweets had a positive sentiment. Whether institutions were interacting with future freshmen’s posts or granting them the ever-coveted repost on their own page, higher education brands reaped the benefits of the post-acceptance excitement.
While most marketers might not think of Reddit as a traditional social marketing platform, students regularly turn to its forums to ask questions and compare notes on prospective colleges.
The subreddit r/ApplyingToCollege has over 784,000 members and impressive engagement. Between April 15, 2022 and May 3, 2022, the keywords “college admission,” “decision day,” “applying to college,” “college waitlist” and “college acceptance” were posted 967 times in that subreddit alone.
Whether admissions offices want to know how students rank their institution among their rivals or which programs and majors are about to take off, subreddits are a great source of students’ unedited thoughts, desires and anxieties. Even if colleges and universities haven’t made Reddit a core pillar of their social strategy, insights from the platform can be a great source for social content across your other profiles.
Creative content 101
The scale of College Decision Day means that higher education social media teams have to bring their A game—and they didn’t disappoint. This year’s slate of social posts placed a premium on creativity.
Peek behind the scenes
Beyond social strategy, a lot goes into making College Decision Day a success. Notre Dame took advantage of the back-end work they already had to do by giving their audience a peek behind the admissions curtain. Showing the admission letter process got their prospective students primed for the day they’d get their big packet in the mail.
Embrace the absurd
Knowing what engages your audience is the first step of every social media strategy and Ursinus College proved that with their TikTok college acceptance videos. They leaned into the absurdist humor Gen Z is known for and showed off their transition skills with their “It’s time to become a bear” campaign.
Make it relatable
Between the pressures of high school life, the stressors of being a teenager and the constant barrage of adults asking about their plans, potential first year students have a lot on their plates. When you add in near-constant marketing communications from colleges and universities, it can be a lot. Tulane University poked fun at themselves and their peers—while relating to the struggles of their audience—with hyper self-aware content.
Get schooled on social
As future classes live more of their lives online, social media will only become more prevalent in the college decision-making process. Colleges and universities are already catering to students’ online preferences and that won’t slow down anytime soon.
Bring up your social media grade level by checking out some more ways schools and universities are strategically using social media.