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College of Charleston recruits via unlikely source - TikTok

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

by Madison Haile

In the age of viral trends and social media sensations, TikTok has become a powerful tool in shaping students' decisions about where to pursue higher education.

At the College of Charleston, TikTok has significantly attracted prospective students through its unique aesthetic and appeal.

Eleri Provenzano, a CofC freshman, was attracted to the Southern campus from the TikTok videos.

"I saw videos of the campus through my 'For You' page by several college students," she said. "The content positively influenced my perceptions of the college."

The influence of TikTok content extended to students' decisions to apply.

Day-in-the-life videos of students and videos of the sororities influenced my decision," Provenzano noted.

She emphasized that the beauty of the campus and the endless opportunities in Charleston should be highlighted in promotional materials.

TikTok not only shaped perceptions but also facilitated connections. Provenzano found friends in the comment sections of CofC-related videos, making her feel like she would belong at the college.

Piper Grinstead, a senior at The College, acknowledged TikTok's role in students choosing to come to downtown college.

"CofC's active presence on TikTok has boosted its image," she said, adding that its TikTok content has effectively captured the unique "vibe" of Charleston and student life.

The College’s Department of Admissions reported an outstanding growth in the number of students who applied and were enrolled.

Annie Thompson, president of the campus tour guide group C40, has also noticed the impact of TikTok on prospective students.

"Since TikTok was launched, The College has broken records with 26,000 applications received for the 2,400 slots available for Fall 2023," Thompson reported.

She observed that TikTok's influence has led students to mention specific aspects during her tours, like Charleston’s houses and overall student life.

However, TikTok content has had its challenges. Thompson expressed concern that some portray CofC as solely a party school, overshadowing its academic side.

“People only think CofC is a beach school that everyone comes to party and surf," she said.

Evie Purcell, known as @apricotbabycakes on TikTok, shared her journey as a content creator. She believed in showcasing the unique aspects of CofC, from its diverse student body to its vibrant events.

Purcell emphasized the importance of authenticity and showing all aspects of college life.

Despite its benefits, TikTok's influence has occasionally needed to be clarified. Purcell acknowledged that some creators over-glamorize college experiences, potentially leading to misconceptions.

“TikTok can be deceiving to potential students because you don’t know where that student is coming from,” Purcell warned, “and your college experience could differ from theirs.”

She notes that TikTok has become a game-changer in the evolving landscape of college marketing. It offers a personal and interactive way to engage with prospective students, making it an integral part of recruitment strategies.

“People are interested in seeing the perspective of the student’s life and not a brochure; it provides an unfiltered lifestyle.”

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