What Makes Your University Distinct?

DistinctionsAs the college and university marketing landscape becomes more competitive, it’s important to know what sets your school apart from others.

But often, when you ask a staff or faculty member what makes their university different than others in its region, the answer is met with shrugged shoulders and a reply of, “We’re not really different,” or “Not much.” Or, they tell you things about the university and its programs that really aren’t distinct at all.

To find the important distinctions that set your university apart from others consider the following.

Location and campus setting. Each campus environment is distinct. Some campuses are quaint, park-like settings. While others are surrounded (or in the middle of) the hustle and bustle of an urban city. Your location also might be close to internship locations or activities for off-campus fun, or it might be more of a commuter campus than a residential campus. What’s different about your campus than others in your area?

Majors. I’m not talking about number of majors, or the typical majors every college has. I’m talking about where your popular programs meet unique program offerings. Are you the only school in your state to offer an art therapy major? Promote it. Do you have a history of being an excellent teacher education college? Use that to your advantage.

Special first-year student programs. Do you have a special program that helps students transition to college? Is there freshman-only learning community students could be a part of? How about special programs aimed at helping first-generation college students navigate their first year of college? Do you have a “Welcome Week” for freshmen at the beginning of the school year?

The details about those programs may help set your school apart from others that don’t offer (or don’t promote) those important programs.

Financial aid and scholarships. This is usually a major (if not the most important) decision-making factor for prospective students and their families. How well does your institution compete with its peers in the region? Provide concrete examples of scholarship dollar amounts students may receive or tell your school’s affordability story through  quotes or examples from students who selected your college based on the financial aid award they received.

Campus initiatives. Is your college a “creative campus”? Do you have a special focus (and established programs) on leadership or sustainability? Does a higher percentage of your student body study abroad than the national average? Figure out how your university’s strategic initiatives and popular support programs might be of interest to prospective students.

Image: Courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. She frequently writes and edits copy on higher education and genealogy/family history topics. She is the author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative