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College Media's Peter Pan Syndrome

Zach Brooke

Being a college media outlet means facing an identity crisis when readership graduates and moves on. Digitization of the media landscape compounds the challenge. What’s a student rag to do, and why should marketers care?

This fall, 20 million students enrolled in America’s universities, representing roughly 65% of the estimated 30.8 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 24.

In college they are thrust, like generations before them, into uniquely enclosed environments where, regardless of their educational path, they’ll forge behavioral patterns that shape their consumption habits for the rest of their lives.

The evolving personae are largely the result of media diet. Though they carry to campus many content preferences first realized during high school, the next four years are a time of discovery, owing to the influence of new peers and a healthy dose of targeted marketing.

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Zach Brooke is a former AMA staff writer turned freelance journalist. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, A.V. Club and VICE, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Zach_Brooke.