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Why Your Admissions Department Needs TikTok

Every college class always has one trend that excites students, yet confuses administrators. In 2021, that trend is TikTok.

The social media channel took off during COVID-19 as remote learning gave Generation Z ample time to use the new social media platform for dancing or lip-syncing to their favorite tunes. Over the last year, TikTok has evolved into a platform that has videos including DIY crafts to finance advice, and everything in-between.

In fact, according to Statista, the average TikTok user spends 858 minutes per month on the platform. More likely than not, those users are your current and prospective students. Many colleges have already seen the benefits that TikTok provides and are using the platform to engage and attract potential students.

But recent news allowing advertisers to collect audience information through lead generation ads opens the door to engage students on a different level. These ads will enable prospective students who tap a call-to-action on your ad to instantly collect information in-platform to share information and entice them to spend time on your website.

In this quick guide, we’ll share how higher ed can leverage TikTok lead gen ads to engage students.

Promote campus life

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, campus visits were a must for any prospective student thinking of attending a four-year university. However, the pandemic quickly shuttered campus visits, leaving students to rely on an institution’s social media and web presence in order to get a feel for the campus.

TikTok has successfully filled that gap by giving students a taste of campus life through creative videos that showcase the many campus sights and sounds. Here’s an example of how our client Indiana University used a video on lunchtime strolls to give a glimpse into some of the buildings on campus.


welcome to BLOOMING🌸TON

♬ Somebody to love Basstrologe Bootleg - mthekyng

With lead gen ads, institutions can tie specific content with their lead gen efforts while providing you with valuable context on what the student consumed.

Having context matters as students demand personalization and naturally want institutions who will meet them where they are in the admissions lifecycle. Integrating your lead gen efforts with TikTok doesn’t only show students that you’re caught up with the times, but also allows you to be more proactive with your outreach.

Creatively Answer Student Questions

Our experience shows that students simply aren’t interested in searching for answers on your website. Yet, those same students are likely to ask repetitive questions that could be easily searched.

Instead of bogging your administration down with constant inquiries from prospective students, look at your most frequently asked questions and find student ambassadors who will create a TikTok on your channel. Here is an excellent example of how Boston University uses TikTok to turn what otherwise would be a boring web page into an interesting and engaging video.


Your guide to moving out of your dorm during a pandemic! #bostonuniversity #boston #college #bu #fyp #tips #ra #covid #onlineschool

♬ Morning Path - Board-Man

For prospective students, use common admissions questions as a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Not only can these videos help students better understand the admissions process, it can also help recruit students to your institution with the help of lead generation ads.

Allowing students to convert after viewing the TikTok video makes for a more frictionless experience and allows your department to follow up on what they just watched.

Although many institutions have already adopted TikTok in some form, most have either held back or failed to optimize the platform to its fullest potential. Using TikTok as a recruitment tactic can help build your brand and position you as a student-first institution.

Showcase Student Life

One of the biggest questions students have when they apply to a campus is “where will I fit in?” TikTok is the best channel to show the campus culture and a day in the life of the average student.

With TikTok’s explosive growth, you’ll have no shortage of students who are willing to share everything from how the cafeteria food is to daily campus news. Syracuse does a great job accomplishing this by regularly showcasing student life videos.


you asked for more day in the life, you get more day in the life 🍊🍊 (via @leahjones619) #AirPodsJUMP #dayandnight #college #campus #foryou #fyp

♬ original sound - Syracuse University

One of the biggest takeaways from the pandemic is that asynchronous learning isn’t going away. This means higher ed institutions will make a more concerted effort to bring in out-of-state students as the enrollment cliff comes closer to a reality than ever before.

While TikTok can’t replace the experience of being on campus and talking to students in-person, it can certainly help high school students in the discovery process narrow their list. If your institution isn’t on TikTok, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to put your best foot forward.

Despite a brief scare on the future of TikTok, it’s clear that the platform isn’t going away. With over 1.1 billion active users worldwide, institutions need to not only accept TikTok as part of their marketing strategy moving forward, but embrace it.

And with TikTok introducing its new lead gen ads, there’s no better time to adopt the platform as part of your recruiting strategy. We can keep our side parts and skinny jeans, but adopting TikTok for lead gen is a must-do for higher ed.