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College Students: Association Members in the Making

College students are multi-faceted: They’re hard-working, probably stressed out, innovative, and eager. But, more importantly, they’re also potential new members for your association.

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College students are multi-faceted: They’re hard working, probably stressed out, innovative, and eager. But, more importantly they're also potential new members for your association. New generations are coming of age. Millennials are already taking over the workforce and making their presence known. Generation Z is starting college and slowly beginning their migration into the professional world. Is your association missing out on the opportunity to appeal to these newer audiences?

Why does your association want college students? They’re young professionals and are in the perfect position to begin or further their careers. Undergraduate students are no longer Millennials. According to The Center for Generational Kinetics, Millennials are defined as being born up to 1996. Generation Z, also known as Centennials, or just Gen Z, are all those born after that point. So, the older members of Gen Z are just now starting their move from primary schooling to the professional world and study. And here’s what your association needs to know about them. Gen Z is extremely diverse -- even more so than Millennials. Your association needs this diversity. It’s no longer just a demographic diversity either, but a cognitive one. Organizations with high diversity and inclusion ratings have 57% better collaboration, 19% greater staff retention, 40% improvement on market share, and 70% more success in new markets.

Gen Z grew up on social media. Unlike Millennials, who can still remember a time before MySpace and Facebook, Gen Z has been submerged in social media from the start. Due to this, they tend to favor more personal social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. This generation is collectively less private online as well, putting everything out there and largely living their lives in front of the camera.

This also makes them experts in the field. They’re the best ones to help you with your online presence since they’ve been present online all their lives. Bringing them into your association means receiving direct feedback and input on how your association is adapting to the changing professional world.

Gen Z is also highly educated. It is projected that more of Generation Z will attend college than any other generation before. On top of that, they have been brought up in the world of YouTube and Pinterest, where the solution to anything is instantly learnable with a quick Google search.

This mixture of traditional and innovative education will make them highly adaptable and pragmatic. They will be able to solve problems in new ways and think differently from the generations ahead of them. Having younger professional members can mean having more long term members, too. Since they’re starting out young, they have more time to stay active members and with the right engagement tactics, they will. Interacting with them as they move through the stages of their careers will show that you are there for them as much as you want them to be there for you. So, how do you get current college students to become members? Try some of these tactics:

Get involved

Colleges are constantly having job fairs or career driven events. Have representatives of your association attend and market membership. Explaining the benefits in-person to eager students can go a long way.

Your association could also host events on college campuses. You could plan an event just to market your association or a job fair that involves other members of your association, but having one tailored directly to college students will get their attention. College campuses are full of a variety of clubs and extracurricular activities. Research and contact some in the same realm as your association. They might benefit from your association's sponsorship or partnership.

Offer a student discount

The majority of college students are not 100% financially stable. This is where offering a student discount on membership would be of a benefit to all involved. Discounted memberships for students is a good way to introduce them to the association at a lower dues rate. In order to do this, your association can make it mandatory to provide information such as expected graduation date, major, year level, or anything else appropriate to attach with the student rate. You can then verify this with the school or use it to network them with members already involved with your association.

Your association can also offer a student package that includes not only a cut rate but student specific benefits. This could be things like internship or volunteer opportunities, contacts or networking opportunities, or other benefits that could be provided by your association’s sponsors or members. Advertising a student membership package could be very enticing to young professionals just starting out professionally. And, once they have graduated from college, student members can graduate to the full membership rate and continue to renew from there.

Use social media

As already mentioned, this new generation has always been online making it the premier place to market to them. Not only can you do so directly, but also quickly.

Marketing directly to college students online can be pretty simple. You should start by looking for groups specifically targeted or for college students and pages dedicated to universities and their respective clubs. Your association can use these outlets to market membership perks and just get your association's brand out into the world.

Your association should always be utilizing different platforms and different marketing strategies. For example your association shouldn't just have a LinkedIn page and a Facebook page. To truly reach college students, branch out to newer platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. Start getting your association's brand in front of a younger crowd.

Offer volunteer and internship opportunities

College students are always looking to improve their resumes and professional lives. Giving them opportunities to do so will help attract them to your association. These opportunities could specifically be through your association or through companies that your members work for. Another perk college students benefit from is job boards. Hosting one on your association's website allows college students to search for specific opportunities in their industry niche.

You can also offer certification or further education opportunities to your student members. Additional education is a great way for college students to get ahead in the workforce. With these tips and knowledge, your association can make sure college students are aware of your association and what it can offer them.