At the end of a turbulent year, we’re looking back on the top 20 client and partner-submitted articles, by views, across the SchoolFinder Group platform.
Here, we’ll investigate what made these 20 articles stand out and draw clicks from interested students, and try to learn lessons we can apply to new content marketing material going into 2021.
Thanks to all our submitters in 2020!
Even without travel, you can earn money, learn differently, get connected, and advance your career.
June 5, 2020
Canadian Gap Year Association
Posted in the height of summer, this piece offers several strong calls to readers. First, it asks a question in the headline, inviting the reader to see themselves in the piece. Second, the piece was topical: uncertainty around the fall semester had many students considering a gap year. Finally, the subtitle helps clarify the title’s premise, and touches on one of the main concerns of students: making money and getting a stable job.
Make sure you’ve got the facts so you don’t leave cash unclaimed.
February 26, 2020
This piece’s title is an imperative, spurring readers to action. It’s also about scholarships, one of the hottest topics, as we’ll see. The title is punchy and uses everyday language. The subtitle uses a similar tactic, with a simply stated demand for action. Using terms like “money” and “cash” makes the article’s benefit tangible: students are quite concerned with paying for school. Finally, the urgency in the title is amplified by the notion of “missing out” — the reader must act fast or suffer the dreaded FOMO.
Shining sunlight on popular misconceptions about London’s weather.
January 16, 2020
This one’s a bit of a surprise, given that the title and subtitle aren’t directly college, university, or student related. Still, by asking a question in the title, this piece invites readers in to learn more. The subtitle promises to dispel misconceptions, which can be a powerful attractant, too, given that many Canadians have a sense of London as foggy and wet. This article offers readers a chance to expand their knowledge of a cosmopolitan place, and that could be part of why it was successful.
Grades aren’t everything to registrars. Effectively telling your story is just as important.
October 14, 2020
This piece’s title is a mouthful but effectively promises what the article delivers: targeted advice about personal statements. The subtitle helps contextualize the advice, and hints at the article’s thesis: the centrality of personal narrative. Adding the flourish about “your first-choice program” personalizes the piece and helps position it as essential reading for those applying for tough, competitive programs.
Mount Royal University makes it easy to apply for awards online.
February 25, 2020
Mount Royal University
This piece opens with strong scholarship message — one of the most popular and enduring topics. The title contrasts the vast array of scholarships with the relative simplicity of the single application. The subtitle offers more context, laying out the specific university and even hinting at the online application method. Scholarship-forward pieces like this help draw the attention of prospective undergrads looking for financial support.
Campus tours and other things to do after you’ve sent your applications.
January 2, 2020
University of Waterloo
This article, released during university application season, addresses a central question new applicants might have, right from the title. It puts the reader front and centre with the second-person pronoun. The subtitle adds a bit more context, suggesting campus tours. The piece itself is nicely laid out with subheadings, links, and white space.
Scholarships, bursaries, prizes, oh my!
March 9, 2020
This article has an extremely grabby title, with an exclamation and all-caps “YOU” that demands the reader pay attention. Mentioning “money” up front is a strong hook, too, especially when used in a “catchphrase” setting like this. Scholarship articles generally perform well, so this piece could afford to be more playful with the subtitle. Even so, the subtitle reflects and reinforces the accompanying branded image, which already starts laying out different financing options, further enticing readers to click through.
We love our social media, but can it affect your grades?
January 7, 2020
This article about social media taps into a sense of mystery but connects it to everyday experience. The subtitle goes a long way to making the article’s theme concrete: how social media can affect a student’s academics. The subtle use of “we” in the subtitle makes the piece less accusatory, fostering a feeling of “we’re all in this together.” The article’s image cleverly overlays two different devices to suggest how ubiquitous our tech has become, and thus how important it is for students to be careful with social media!
Learn about the health, wellness and academic support that York U offers its students.
February 20, 2020
York leverages its brand power at every turn, including the full name in the title of this article, an abbreviation in the subtitle, and always includes its signature graphic branding within article images. The titling is prosaic, laying out exactly what readers will find in the post, and the subtitle reinforces the themes without expanding much. The consistent branding helps build name recognition, though could deter potential readers with no interest in York. Even so, the topic is on point, given the increasing interest in mental health in 2020.
From meal prep to student discounts, do everything you can to maximize your money.
February 17, 2020
The title of this piece uses two strong strategies at once: a numbered list and a reference to money! Numbered lists help define the scope of an article, and every student wants to earn lots of money and spend little. The article frames this advice through the title, and the subtitle helps signpost what the reader will find within, emphasizing the importance of “money” all the way.
Getting scholarships and bursaries can make a big difference for your funds.
February 28, 2020
University of Waterloo
This piece goes hard on financing; always a good strategy for grabbing reader attention. The alliteration in the title is a nice touch, though it may have performed slightly better as a numbered list. The subtitle mentions scholarships and bursaries, but doesn’t give much more away. It does use the verb “get,” which can be a powerful word. The accompanying image, of an excited student, helps sell the idea of financial liberation, encouraging readers to click.
Questions to consider when deciding on a medical school abroad.
April 1, 2020
University of Nicosia Medical School
This piece’s success is interesting, given it’s aimed at a fairly niche audience. It uses a strong numbered list setup, of course, and frames the piece as advice first and foremost. The subtitle fleshes out the setup, offering questions to ask when making a choice. This approach — using the writer’s expertise to guide the reader in a specific task — is a great avenue for content marketing that can draw in eyeballs.
How students become brewmasters, tech leaders, and champions against human trafficking.
August 4, 2020
University of Waterloo
Waterloo’s final entry on our list aims directly at the audience from the get-go. The title puts the reader centre stage, inviting the reader to imagine their future career; a great setup for drawing in students, who are broadly preoccupied with earning enough money to make a decent living. The subtitle does much of the heavy lifting for this piece, laying out the career profiles the article features. The array of options in the subtitle may have helped draw clicks, too. We don’t get “doctor, lawyer, engineer;” instead we get “brewmasters, tech leaders, and champions against human trafficking;” way more exciting!
Big awards, little awards, how can you get the most out of your time?
February 3, 2020
Scholarship expert Janet MacDonald of mycampusGPS appears on this list once more with financing advice. Here, the title is directed to a skeptical student, and though it doesn’t use the second-person pronoun, its framing still invites the reader in. The subtitle does include “you,” and helps solidify the article’s premise without giving much away. The article’s strength lies in addressing a real-world question students are grappling with, and puts it in simple, everyday language.
Missed the deadline? You can still get started!
March 2, 2020
Vancouver Island University
This article has an extra long title; the parenthetical could conceivably worked as a subtitle. As it is, the subtitle is kept quite short as a compromise. The title works, though, using a numbered list of advice that immediately addresses potential reader concerns. The image is kept wide enough that it could show almost any university, which matches well with the more general titling of the piece. The article itself uses lots of subheadings and even some pictures to break up the piece.
The new scholarships will help support students suffering financially due to the pandemic.
June 2, 2020
Another long title, this time with a longer subtitle, too. The title makes a strong claim, focusing on scholarships, highlighting the amount of real support the school provides. Covid is mentioned as well, to resonate with current events, and position the scholarship offerings as unique and responsive to student need. The subtitle adds a bit of context to the title, which does much of the heavy lifting for this piece. Scholarship money never fails to grab attention.
A college counsellor provides tips to overcome those pre-test jitters.
April 6, 2020
College of the Rockies
Another title that asks readers a question, this piece provides a brief statement of context first. The piece invites the reader to see themselves as an overwhelmed student facing exams, and quickly provides a remedy, in the form of the subtitle. A college counsellor, a figure of trust and authority, lends credibility to this article and the many strategies it contains.
Learn how to apply for scholarships, bursaries, and other awards.
May 7, 2020
Putting financial assistance front and centre never fails. This piece draws immediate attention to the Canadore College brand, but also promises more general advice on applying for financial aid. The subtitle expands on the definition and helps capture popular terms for SEO purposes. The article itself contains lots of bulleted lists that aid scannability, though the accompanying image is a bland shot of the campus that could be more dynamic.
By cutting tuition, Redeemer has put a Christian university education within reach for Canadians.
February 12, 2020
Reduced tuition, like financial aid, is an instant click for many students on the platform. Redeemer attaches its brand immediately, keeping the focus tight, and provides the exact figure, 42%, which helps lend a journalistic, real-world credibility to the title. The subtitle adds more detail, emphasizing the benefits to students, and hinting at Redeemer’s Christian focus. The second-person pronoun in the title is an effective tactic for drawing reader attention, too.
A guide to using study techniques to enhance exam success.
March 17, 2020
Fairleigh Dickinson University – Vancouver
This straightforward title promises just what the article presents: strategies for improving study skills. The title also uses alliteration for effect. The subtitle positions the piece as a “guide,” implying neutral credibility, and also mentions exams, ensuring the piece is timely and relevant for the season. The article is laid out with subheadings and bulleted lists, though the photo of students studying might strike some as odd in the age of Covid!
We had a great mix of articles from our clients and partners throughout the year, many of which focused on Covid and various relief measures to support students.
Punchy titles that incorporate numbered lists, rhetorical questions, and the second-person pronoun typically perform well. Subtitles that offer additional context can help signpost a piece for a reader. An arresting, dynamic image is always a good move — and if you can write about careers, scholarships, or money in general, you’re on the right track!
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your holiday, and happy 2021!