From education to employment

How to attract the best students

Photo by Inbal Marilli on Unsplash

Eager to boost your sixth form or college application numbers? According to research by the Association of Colleges, there were 269 colleges in England, 26 colleges in Scotland, 14 colleges in Wales, and 6 colleges in Northern Ireland as of April this year, which means there is a lot of competition to attract the best students.

Consider also the fact that sixth form colleges and school or academy sixth forms receive approximately 21% less funding than secondary schools and 48% less than the standard university tuition fee, and you not only have competition to contend with, but also — potentially — a smaller marketing budget.

However, with a brochure campaign, you can effectively market your college or sixth form. For advice on engaging and enticing the best students, follow this step-by-step guide created for colleges and sixth forms to help boost applications and keep youths in education.

The fundamentals of brochure designing

An overview of brochure marketing and designing is key before we get specific about your target audience. For example, each of your brochure page’s headers, as well as the main text, must be clear in meaning and layout. Make each title attractive, all text descriptive and every subheading relevant to ensure the highest level of engagement.

A brochure should be designed in thirds — vertically and horizontally. The rule of thirds is a trusted design method to help you align text and pictures and produce a neater, more professional piece. But remember not to put important text where the brochure’s fold will be, as it will obscure it.

Simple fonts are effective and look tidy — think one font style and three font sizes (for headers, sub-headers and main text). Make your text bold or italicised only when necessary to emphasise a point. Do it often without good reason, and your content will lose authority.

Now, it’s time to look at how brochures can help engage with and attract a high number of new college and sixth form students…

Imagine your college or sixth form through a student’s eyes

The first task you must complete before designing the aesthetics of your brochure is researching your target audience. Did you know that the University of York looked into over 70% of its departments to explore why students wanted to choose it over others? As a result of this, the university was able to launch a brochure campaign that stated exactly why prospective students would prosper by enrolling there.

If you wish to emulate this strategy, simply spend time with your college or sixth form’s departments. Essentially, every subject or course has different things to offer and students pick them for different reasons (e.g. best for practical work or most respected for its academic modules), so researching each individually can really help. You could also use your current student body to conduct research. Send out surveys via the emailing list or question students in communal areas. Questions around why they picked your sixth form or college and what would persuade them to choose one place over another could help you create that important front cover of your brochure.

Diversify your design with imagery

Visual content has much influence in 2018 — especially around people that are your target audience’s age! In fact, visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content — so how can you jump on this trend in your brochure marketing campaign.

Using imagery is one of the best tactics for getting across a message — particularly when they’re descriptive and display positive emotions. Show your current pupils laughing, getting involved in sports and fun recreational activities, working on modern equipment, and working as a team on school projects. These photos will emphasise that your establishment offers a sociable environment and plenty of opportunities for academic growth that will grab and maintain their attention.

But is it really a priority to focus on being eye-catching? According to research, it is. The Journal of Chemical Education states that the initial attention lapse happens just half a minute after starting an activity. So, if you’re handing your brochures out at secondary schools, you need be presenting something immediately engaging and exciting.

Be bold and attract attention

We’ve already discovered that there are many colleges and sixth forms in the UK, so you have plenty of competition to keep you on your toes as you design your brochure campaign. But what is the quickest and most effective way to stand out?

Firstly, a clear message is key. Focus on creating content that is bold and attractive. Use your college or sixth form colours, if you have them, to make your brochure personal and try to incorporate red, if you can — this is reportedly the most eye-catching shade to humans. Then again, yellow is another good option, as it’s the most visible.

Emotive language also helps to build a connection with the reader — ideal for encouraging students to take their next life-step with you. Consider quotes like: ‘education is not preparation for life; education is life itself’ or ‘knowledge will bring you the opportunity to make a difference’. These inspire an action and are a poetic, succinct way to show a young person how they can grow and make an impact.

Offer a reason for a student to choose you

Sixth forms and colleges typically allow for more flexibility and creativity than school, so try and ‘sell’ this new type of student life.

Essentially, you must adopt a style of writing that is positive, stirring and exhilarating to create a strong and desirable image in the reader’s mind. Use phrases such as ‘hi-tech’, ‘exciting’ and ‘award-winning’ to pique interest!

Remember, it’s not all about studying for youngsters going to college or sixth form. Whether your establishment offers plenty of socialising opportunities, sports clubs, field trips, and group projects, they can really attract prospective students in 2018. But, also don’t forget the important features of any educational establishment — such as extra curriculum courses and high pass rates — which will make your college or sixth form a valuable place to study.

Use your college or sixth form’s current students to help!

You’re surrounded by young, talented individuals — so why not enlist their help during your campaign? Ask those doing design modules to create a potential brochure that advertises your sixth form or college and get others on board with project managing and inputting creative advice.

Employ the influence of statistics

Attractive and positive data always gets attention — so if there are any facts or figures special to your sixth form or college, make sure these feature prominently in your brochure. Recently invested more than £2 million into facilities? 99% satisfaction rating? Important data like these stats mean that you’re not only telling people why your establishment is great, you’re proving it. Place these within your text and embolden them or make a graphic and have them stand apart from the main copy.

Young students want content that’s exciting and easy to take in — dull language and a patronising tone won’t work. Create a positive identity using your brochure’s main features: colour, text, facts, and imagery. You are trying to capture an aspirational and excited audience that is eager to start a new chapter in their lives — so complement this enthusiasm!

About Where The Trade Buys: A UK-based printing company that has around 150 staff. With operations in Sunderland and London, this eight-year-old company offers premium printing services and products, including quality perfect-bound brochures.

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