According to the latest data, college enrollment has dropped from approximately 21 million in 2010 to 20.2 million in 2014. Forecasts predict the pattern will hold through 2016 and beyond. This drop in enrollment has spurred institutions of higher learning to increase their marketing efforts, with a corresponding increase in the sophistication of their college recruitment posters.
College recruitment posters have long been a standard promotional tool in high schools all over the world. They continue to be important and are now often part of a balanced strategy that also includes social media and direct mailing. However, many college recruitment poster designs lag behind in sophistication compared to their counterparts outside higher education circles.
These visually-exciting recruitment poster designs break the mold and are sure to turn more heads and generate more interest than nearly everything else you’ve seen.
This conceptual piece for KPMG Branding U still has the look expected of a typical college recruitment poster, but with far less clutter and disjointedness we’ve come to see in most other examples.
This series of posters tries to evoke both heritage and modernity with its mix of woodcut images and modern design elements.
This conceptual typographical poster really pushes Old West tropes associated with EL Paso into the forefront. If this were printed on the right stock, it would look far better than the digital image suggests.
This small Christian college used the services of the famed McCann Worldgroup to develop their recent promotional campaign and the posters to go with it. It’s quite a modern look as far the expected aesthetics of Christian-oriented design goes. It’s eye-catching, memorable, and manages to be a bit exciting.
Here’s something totally different. The next few examples are from the Maryland Institute College of Art. The stunning artwork drives home the point that perhaps aspiring artists should enroll there. Each of these examples is by a different artist.
This vintage example from 1983 looks current even today. It was designed by Tom Eckersley, an influential designer and instructor who gained recognition for his propaganda work in World War II. His work continues to be influential today.
Liberty University’s Career Center has put out quite a few stunning posters, but we chose this one for a reason. Quite unusually for “flat design”, the designer uses a photograph of meticulously prepared cutouts, rather than creating it all on a graphic design program.
This concept for Western Carolina University is instantly memorable, not just because of the fun taglines, but also thanks to the well-considered use of different design elements.
This poster for a lecture circuit proves monochrome can still be exciting. This helps the body of text to not seem overwhelming.
This college recruitment poster from Ohio University captures the spirit of invention that comes with being an entrepreneur.
This massive landscape poster for Purdue is pure geek-chic. It’s a bit cluttered, but the design arguably serves to screen potential enrollees based on interest.
The text in this vintage example reads “knowledge is the greatest asset”. Hard to argue with that!
Tips for creating your college recruitment posters
- The basic principles of marketing, design, and advertising apply directly to posters in any industry — including education. It’s interesting that educational institutions continue to use cluttered designs better suited for brochures and flyers on their posters. This is now considered an outdated practice in most other industries.
- Posters are excellent for building awareness. The wide format lends itself well to exciting visuals and bold taglines, and the relatively low cost and maintenance requirements makes posters affordable for the types of promotional campaigns educational institutions run.
- On the other hand, they should not be the main avenue for conversions, even if you could use them for that. More personal tools such as personalized direct mail catalogs and postcards might be more suited for this part of your campaign.
- Due to economies of scale, professional printing services can often produce better quality print materials at a lower cost per piece compared to most in-house printers of most educational institutions. Print services such as PrintPlace.com also produce less waste, thanks to specialization and constantly improved processes. Find out which poster printing options work best for you.
Which college recruitment poster design did you enjoy? Comment below!
Arthur Piccio is a feature writer and subject matter expert for the PrintPlace Blog. In his spare time he studies guitar and writes about goats.