Reddit and the road to enrollment

Why Reddit is the rubric students follow when researching future online colleges

Melissa Stroud McMaster Sr Manager, MidMarket
December 20, 2023

The evolving education landscape

2020 was the year of disruption. Life took a wild turn, with people swapping offices for living rooms, setting up home gyms, and navigating the uncharted waters of remote learning. What initially seemed like a temporary fix to an emergency situation has since evolved into a significant shift in how we approach education.

Online education, born out of necessity, quickly sparked a new wave of innovation. Whether it was reading eBooks, attending live online sessions, watching on-demand videos, or blending different learning models, students found ways to adapt to this new educational landscape. And now, as life returns to “normal”, online education has proven its staying power. A McKinsey survey found that 65% of students want aspects of their learning experience to stay virtual, showcasing a lasting and enduring demand for online education.1

New changes brings about new challenges

The surge in demand for online education has brought about its own set of challenges. Advertisers are now faced with reaching a broader and more fragmented audience and competing with rising competition. So, how can universities cut through the noise and reach a broader audience of prospects among rising competition? 

By meeting students where they are, and reaching them when they’re researching their future education. 

Enter Reddit, a platform that has become the rubric that students follow when researching their future online college decisions. Redditors are the #1 most likely to have researched online educational classes within the last 6 months.2

Reddit is the rubric students follow when researching their future plans

Reddit’s role in the road to enrollment

1. The Search:

Reddit shares the #1 spot, with Snapchat, for having the highest concentration of students pursuing Associate's degrees or higher.2 For many, their college search begins here. When we dive into the communities that over-index for college students, we uncover a remarkable 29% surge in mentions of phrases like "which colleges offer online”, “which universities offer online”, “what are the best online programs” and “how much are online classes or courses”. It’s clear their journey starts here. 

Brands looking to capture the attention of prospective students must engage them early in their research. We see 2 out of 3 education recommendations occuring in the awareness stage, emphasizing the importance of making an impact early on to stay top-of-mind as students narrow down their options.3

2. The Scrutiny:

As students narrow down their choices, Reddit becomes a hub for deeper exploration. Users engage in discussions comparing institutions, offering tough love, and providing invaluable advice. Vulnerable conversations about financial aid, mental health, and academic challenges thrive on Reddit, fostering a supportive community that can’t be found elsewhere.

Most Redditors, though, are actively looking for guidance based on the proven effectiveness of experiences by past or current students in similar situations.

Reviews are crucial at this step, and it shows with 60% of these posts falling under the category of "success stories".3 These firsthand accounts serve as valuable resources for individuals who are on the fence about making a decision. 

2 in 3 education recommendations occur in the awareness stage
3. The Selection:

Validated by their self-serve research and the perspectives from the community, redditors are ready to make a choice. In fact, 62% of the college students on Reddit purchased online education resources or classes in the last six months, surpassing all social competitors.4 

As online education continues to shape the future of learning, navigating the challenges and meeting the evolving demands of students is paramount. Reddit has proven to be a dynamic platform, providing a space for exploration, support, and authentic experiences that play a crucial role in the decision-making process for prospective online learners.







Advertise on Reddit
Advertise on Reddit
Advertise on Reddit


Emily Le, Sr. Marketing Lead, Global Customer Marketing


  1. McKinsey, 2023
  2. GlobalWebIndex, CORE, US data, Q1-Q2 2023
  3. Brandwatch Social Listening July 2022-July 2023