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Why am I seeing college ads online?

Why am I seeing ads from colleges online and in my social media feeds?

A lot of colleges like Grinnell really do take the time to get to know you as a person throughout your application process. But all colleges and universities want you to know, at the very least, who they are and to consider them as an option — this is why they launch digital advertising campaigns. Of course, they can't afford to reach out to every high schooler out there, so if you are seeing digital ads for colleges, it's okay to be a little bit flattered by their interest.

The Admission Funnel

Think about your journey to college as a funnel. At the very beginning of the process, you are at the top of that funnel, along with millions of high school students all around the world. At this point, colleges really want you to just learn about who they are. By serving up ads — even if they’re on the periphery while you're scanning your social media or visiting websites — they make sure that you see their name, their brand colors, and photographs of their campus and students. You're at least becoming aware of what schools are out there.

As the months go by, you move further down that funnel, and colleges might start presenting more targeted ads to you. These ads may have more details. They might mention deadlines, and they could even give you specific actions that you should be taking toward becoming an applicant or student.

There are a few reasons that you might become the target of a campaign like that. You may live in a geographical region that is a high priority for that school. You may have scored high on standardized tests or have academic credentials that are highly desirable to that institution. Or maybe you've already visited a college’s website, so they already know you've demonstrated interest. Just like when you're shopping online and later see ads that are specific to the items you've been searching for, colleges often take that same approach for their digital ads.

Click Away!

One thing is for certain: there is no harm in tapping or clicking on a college's advertisement. In fact, highly selective schools factor in the interest you’ve shown in the school by doing things like engaging with ads since those ads were targeted to you based on something specific and valuable about you, whether it's your location, interests, hobbies, or academic credentials. So when you click on a college ad, you can be sure that you’ll learn more information about the college that is truly intended for you.

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