There are many reasons why college bound students choose a school or specific schools to apply to, and ultimately choosing one they attend.  Variables such as location, cost, sports programs, financial aide and academic programs play a huge role in their decisions.

According to a phone interview survey of roughly 800 current college students and 800 parents of college students, taken from Sallie Mae Bank and Ipsos Public Affairs, shows

*… 53% of current college students are attending the school that they always planned to. Among those who transferred, students and parents identified the cost and expense (27%) of the college as the main reason for doing so, ahead of the program not meeting their academic needs (20%).

This isn’t surprising considering *73% of college students paid for school in 2015-2016 without student loans.

Granted, some students made their decision long before applying to college, and some colleges offer programs focused on a specific field of study.  Putting those factors aside, what about the other half of the college bound students?  How do you entice them to attend your college?  Differentiate yourself!  Be creative!

Be Proactive

Making the potential students feel acknowledged and familiar with your school and campus is a huge step in the right direction.  How do you do that?  Everyone wants to belong and feel welcomed, especially influential high school and post high school students.  Sure, most colleges and universities offer tours and even overnight stays for the young candidates, which is a good start, but does it really influence their decision?  Perhaps for some individuals it may, while others need a little more interaction.

Build a campus wide scavenger hunt.  Invite a crowd of high school potentials, naturally peers are always an influence, and pair them with seasoned college students, preferably those with strong school spirit.  Not only are you building a friendship (hopefully) but you’re really weaving the candidates into the thread of the culture and the school.  Their visit is no longer on the surface but an integral part of campus life.

Did we mention, Thrill of the Hunt always suggests integrating social media into every scavenger hunt for exponential fun?  This interaction also increases the college or university’s online footprint.  If the scavenger hunt is done correctly, it could be used as a vehicle to shine the school into a good light, creating word-of-mouth testimonials, independent from the school.

Build Loyalty

What builds loyalty?  Besides the tradition of past alumni family members, and perhaps those die hard sports fans, being in the know creates unity and a sense of belonging.  Yes, learning about the history of the college, the students, the programs, even the architecture and surrounding towns and sites help paint the picture and build a personal correlation to the student.  I’m not talking about handing out a flyer and hope the candidate reads it and understands the material.  Nope, and forget about them passing that material along to other candidates.  Sure adding informative videos on the school’s website is a step in the right direction, but that’s a passive and not always an effective means to reaching the student.

Offering a scavenger hunt around campus or even around the town is the perfect and nonthreatening way to feed this information to the students with a hands and controlled approach.  After all, the participants will be directly engaging in specific areas of the campus that match to the scavenger hunt clues and challenges.

Don’t just stop there.  Students love showing how smart they are and the knowledge procured over their high school days.  Incorporate scholastic subjects into the challenges.  Even make that as part of the online portion of the scavenger hunt, bringing in a larger online audience to participate, again increasing brand recognition and positive news.

Use school marketing pieces, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, key chains and such to be collected during the scavenger hunt or create a few large prizes or a bunch of smaller prizes containing these merchandise items.


The scavenger hunt doesn’t have to be comprised of solely students.  Nope, invite the entire family to participate.  This activity will also get them acclimated to the campus and the students.  Not to mention, you may be introducing your school to a younger sibling, creating an early bond.


Sure building a custom scavenger hunt can be costly and definitely time consuming.  Help to defer some of the costs by inviting local businesses to sponsor the event!  Not a bad way to involve the entire community.


Remember engage your potential audience and build the story for them to be apart of.  These efforts have staying power and exponential results.


– by MarketingCharts

Did you create your very own college or university scavenger hunt or did you participate in one?  Share your story with us!

If you’d like to learn more about our suggested themes and ideas, let us know.  We’d be happy to discuss and provide you with a free quote.

Thrill of the Hunt exclusively develops and administers to themed scavenger hunts for public and private events such as team building activities, company outings, fundraisers and private parties.

Remember, Everyone needs to … Experience the Game

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