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Sam ThorsonMay, 10, 20225 min read

The Recruitment Journey – High School Senior

What’s an example of a recruitment journey? As an agency, we force ourselves to base our recruitment strategies on real-life situations. Data, surveys, and research can help us collect all the information we want on a specific audience, but how does all the knowledge get put into practice?

In this series, we’ll be illustrating an example of a potential student’s “Recruitment Journey” as they learn about, engage with, and become enrolled at a university.

Meet Tyler

Tyler is 17 years old and just finished the fall semester of his senior year at mid-sized high school.

He knows that attending a university is important, but he is still unsure about the idea. After all, his dad has had a successful career after earning a two-year degree, and his mom, another two-year degree earner, has risen through the ranks at a hospital after starting as a nurse working overnights when he was young.

He isn’t sure what he wants to study but likes music and sports and spends a lot of time on YouTube.

What our Research Says about Tyler

Top Personal Values

  • Value of Work and Return on Effort

    Tyler asks himself, “Is it worth my time?” He finds value in work when the effort proves to be beneficial for his goals.
  • Friends & Family

    Tyler values the opinion of his grandparents. He also sees the value in the hard work that his parents put into their careers.
  • Living an Exciting Life

    Life should be fun. Tyler values entertainment, art, and experiences. He will look for opportunities to enjoy time with his friends.

Top Psychological Drivers

  • Progress
  • Entertainment

Top Media Consumption Time & Sources

  • Averages 30-50 Hours Online / Week
  • Social Channels include TikTok, YouTube, Instagram
  • TV Channels include ESPN, Netflix, HBO Max

Strategy & Objective

Tyler represents the late-stage undergraduate audience. Our marketing objective for this persona is engagement. In order generate that engagement, the first message to this persona should be connection through emotion. Video content is Tyler’s most consumed content format, therefore, channels that prioritize video placements will be key in communicating our message. This includes OTT, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Once we’ve made first contact with Tyler’s persona, we can drive engagement by sending more value-based messaging talking about the benefits of a four-year degree at our target university. These messages will best be delivered in our direct mail sends, email sends, Search Engine Marketing, Display, Programmatic campaigns.

Seasonal messaging will also be important for Tyler. Communication from an admission counselor about upcoming deadlines offer great communication touchpoints to encourage advancement to application.

Media Recommendations


YouTube Pre Roll

Targeting – Audience based on ESPN/sports sites, Prospect List, prospect list lookalikes, admitted list lookalikes


Targeting – 13-17, Interests: Higher Education/College

Over-the-Top Television

Household targeting


Targeting – 15-18, prospect list lookalikes, admitted list lookalikes


Targeting – 16-18, geography

Google Search & Display

Targeting – Audience based on ESPN/sports sites, prospect list lookalikes, admitted list lookalikes

Facebook / Instagram

Targeting – 15-18, prospect list lookalikes, admitted list lookalikes


Automated Email Nurturing Workflow

Text Messaging

Messages about upcoming events, scholarship opportunities, etc.

Direct Mail

If Tyler’s address is known via Student Search methods or through direct inquiries from other channels.



Tyler’s Recruitment Journey


Tyler is a fan of sports and enjoys following College Football. One day, he’s watching TV and notices a College Football Playoff Game featuring our target university. He tunes in and watches the game. As he’s watching the game, he sees a commercial featuring the university. After watching the commercial, Tyler remembers that he recently got a letter in the mail from that very same school.

Tyler recently took his ACT and received a score of 21. His information was made available to the university through the most recent student list purchase. Because Tyler’s geographical proximity, ACT score, and age, he has been receiving direct mail pieces from the school.

Over the next few weeks, Tyler begins to really struggle with the thought, “What am I going to do after high school?” He’s trying to decide if he wants to attend a 4-year university or a tech school where he can graduate faster. It’s at this time when Tyler begins seeing the university’s ads on YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat. Every once in a while, Tyler will hear one of the school’s ads while he’s listening to Spotify.


Over Christmas vacation, Tyle has a lot of conversations with his grandparents and parents about college. He knows that the time to make a decision is getting closer. He starts to do his own research about finding the right fit after high school.

As Tyler searches for answers on Google, he comes across a search ad from the university. He clicks on the ad and visits a landing page where he reads about the school and all their programs. Tyler’s always been interested in music, so he starts looking into the music program.

After he leaves the site, Tyler now receives remarketing ads from the university. One day as he’s scrolling through TikTok, he notices a video from a fitness influencer who goes to that same school. He checks out the guy’s profile and sees more videos about the wellness center.


One day while he’s on Instagram, Tyler notices an ad about the university’s music scholarships. He clicks on the ad and reads about the music program and the scholarship they offer. By clicking on this ad, Tyler’s lead score in the school’s CRM reaches a high enough score to notify an admissions counselor.

The counselor reviews Tyler’s contact profile and sees the pages he recently visited on the website. The counselor reaches out to Tyler by sending him an email.

Tyler answers the email and begins having conversations about the possibility of attending the university. He even schedules a visit to campus in the early spring. It’s while he’s on his visit that he sees campus for the first time. He enjoys his visit and decides to fill out an application.


Tyler, his parents, and his grandparent are overjoyed when they find out that Tyler’s been accepted to the university. It’s at this time that Tyler is added to the school’s yield campaign where he begins to receive specific information about the university and his next steps to enrolling in classes. He’s also added to an automated marketing workflow that sends him emails about upcoming deadlines and helpful resources to make sure he’s ready for classes.


While he’s deciding which classes to take, Tyler is put in contact with a professor in the music department.

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Sam Thorson

Sam specializes in Higher Education marketing strategies. He works hand in hand with university and college admissions and marketing teams to set goals, launch campaigns, and analyze results. With over 7 years of digital, content, and general marketing experience, Sam dedicates himself to connecting modern marketing strategies to higher education institutions.