Five Great Recruitment Videos from Colleges and Universities

Video is a powerful promotional tool, particularly for colleges and universities recruiting prospective students. While researching best practices for recruitment videos in higher education, we found there are many factors that go into making a video successful and effective. The most successful student recruitment videos clearly highlight what separates that college or university from its competitors, and does so in a unique and powerful manner. Effective university recruitment videos often speak to the school’s culture and ultimately the student experience.

Often universities make the mistake of making recruitment videos that highlight what’s important to administrators rather than focus on what will resonate with prospective students. While I may not be a prospective college student, it’s easy to find captivating college recruitment videos (that also had me wishing I would have joined the college glee club) when you think like a prospective student.

Here are five of our favorites:

    • Many schools produce LipDub videos featuring the students and faculty lip-syncing popular tunes. Yale stepped it up a notch and created “That’s Why I Chose Yale,” for its recruitment video. It’s an original piece of cinematography produced by undergraduate students. Prospective students learn about the Yale experience, campus life and academics through this innovative musical approach.


  • The University of Pennsylvania captured student testimonials with, “True Learning” an approachable prospective student recruitment video that provides a day-in-the-life look into student stories and backgrounds. The promotional video’s elegant and smooth flow highlights Penn’s key differentiators while helping prospective students visualize how they would fit in at the university.



  • Washington University in St. Louis took a more traditional approach with its student recruitment video. Washington University highlights academics, residential and extracurricular activities, school history and location information with unscripted student testimonials and exciting visuals.



  • Harvard University’s moving recruitment video, “Harvard – There’s No Place Like It ,” created a simple and playful way to answer prospective students’ questions (and highlights key differentiators) through statistics. The casual use of students and faculty members paired with impressive statistics helps grab the audience’s attention and allow prospective students to see how they would fit in at Harvard.



  • Biola University took a simple approach to its promotional video through a series titled The Journey . A selection of short videos allows Biola students to tell their stories in an open way to which prospective students can easily relate. With clean fresh graphics, Biola’s recruitment videos work well with an attractive student recruitment microsite dedicated to undergraduate admissions. Biola offers the whole package, answering most questions a potential student might have. Saint Louis University uses a similar approach with its Be a Billiken campaign.


The most effective recruitment and promotional videos offer a sincere look into the lives of students while providing information to help prospective students and parents make the best decisions about choosing the right college.

There are a lot of effective ways to approach a college recruitment video. I think highlighting key differentiators such as location and programs to be very important but that may change based on a college or university’s objectives.

What makes an effective promotional video for you? Do any other prospective student recruitment videos stand out in your mind as exceptional?

  • Elina Caballero


    This issue of the videos to promote the universities and thus more attractive to the recruitment process for students, I find very interesting. At the university where I work here in Puerto Rico, and I never seen videos of promotion of the different academic programs and offerings out there for students. Reading about this in the blog, I realize that here (Puerto Rico) we need to promote our Universities in this way.

    For me a good promotional video must present academic offerings of the university, with facilities are available at each campus and most importantly for me it is included in the video, several graduate students, and who are studying in the university. I think the students see the experience of others, motivates them to want to belong to the university.

    Larissa, this type of promotion will attract students recently graduated from high schools or will also be attractive to adult students who wish to return to university to start or finish a university career?

  • Larissa Piper


    You’ll find that the two groups, traditional college students and adult students (often called “non-traditional students”), tend to have different priorities. My team researched promotional videos and focused on key differentiators for traditional students and their parents (since this was our target group). Videos can be successful for a number of reasons and video messaging will vary depending on your target demographic group. You may find a different approach more successful if you’re attempting to reach a different demographic.

  • Elina

    Thanks for your response, the videos are definitely a great tool for promotion and attraction to the universities. Both for the group that you have in your target and for which I wanted to reach students who are adults.

    Do you think for adult students this kind of video is attractive in terms of promotion of universities or do you think these students prefer brochures or other promotions?

    I, as a doctoral student what attracted me to study at the university where I completed my doctoral degree now it was a conference I attended not a promotional video.

  • Garrett James

    Chiming in;
    From my experience with videos and recruitment, I see that generally these videos cater more towards demographics who don’t necessarily know what they want out of their next step (usually younger high school graduate types). That’s why it might not focus so much on the tiny details of an institution and rather, the big picture environment of how you’ll interact with others, what attitudes or philosophies it’ll foster, and what possibilities might open up to you while you’re matriculating.
    If you’re getting ready for your doctorate, you’ve already gotten a few degrees and are aware of where you want to go and what you want to get out of your next institution. The same can’t be said for many.

  • Uni Roles

    Thanks Larissa for sharing
    I have read your blog and watched video. Yes videos are great tool for promotion. Main perspective is to connect with large number of audience. We offer a website for promotion of University recruitment process. You can view here: