College Swag Items Role in Higher Education Recruitment

Silhouette of college students tossing their caps in the air at sunset.

If your college or university is attending a recruitment event, college fair, or orientation, then you need college swag items at the ready.  Having promotional products with you is going to serve threefold: drawing attention, filling a purpose, and having a visibility factor tied to its use.

Branded Tote Bag: The Perfect Swag Item

Blank tote bag ready for branding and to be used as a college swag item.

Tote bags are a great example of college swag that serves all the necessary marketing needs. Let’s break down how it meets all three checkboxes.

Attention Grabber:

Totes can be used as signs. Their size makes them easy to see from far off, and they’re a blank canvas for branded messaging. This makes them perfect to hang off the sides of a table at an event. Young prospects will first see the bags and know something is being given away at that station, plus the bag implies its purpose of filling it. This communicates to the onlooker that there might be more to gain from visiting this table.

Fill a Purpose:

Totes serve one purpose to the user, and that is to carry things. Onlookers see your totes as a solution to their problem at any event, how am I going to carry all this free stuff??? You have the perfect solution, and unconsciously people who use your tote will associate your brand marketing materials with problem solving and helpfulness.

The Visibility Factor: Your Marketing Materials at Work

Now that you’ve given a prospective student something to carry all of their swag in, that tote is going to be displayed throughout that event and in countless social scenarios to come. Shopping, traveling, walks/hikes, trips to the park, and the list goes on. The endless level of exposure is why college swag is one of the best advertising tools.

Swag Ideas for College Students

Here are other items that meet all three criteria we recommend you bring with you to your next recruitment event to go from expected to effective.

  1. Charging cables/pads: Young people now have more devices than ever and are always in need of a cable for a charge.
  2. T-shirts: An oldie, but a goodie. A sense of pride comes with wearing a brand. You see this at the NFL draft where players are handed their first jersey when they’re selected. The same can be translated to the academic industry.
  3. Lanyards: Take a look at your current student body, do they all carry their keys and IDs on their lanyards? If that is part of your campus culture, invite prospective students to join it by offering free lanyards.
  4. Hot and Cold Tumbler: Students are going to be burning late hours studying, early hours attending classes, and all other times out and about enjoying independence. A tumbler that keeps their drinks hot or cold for the hours they need is going to become a must-have you’ll see in their hand daily.

How to Use Swag to Build Community 

College community enjoying coffee and treats while studying.

When students choose your school, they’re saying yes to being part of its culture. Socially we are drawn to cultures that reflect our own ideas, values, appearance, goals, and spirit. Institutions that inject branded swag into its students’ everyday lives convey the appearance of unity.

Students dressed or sporting similar colors, logos, or symbols appear connected to their fellow peers and exude pride for the institution they are members. Prospective students will feel a desire to integrate themselves into this community, and current students will want to not only “fit in” but also share in the collective spirit for their school.

How To Get Faculty Using College Swag Without Asking

It doesn’t stop with students; faculty should represent the school brand with practical items. Just as students can show school spirit by wearing a branded t-shirt, faculty members can incorporate swag into their daily routines. Getting faculty involved will blend swag from top to bottom in your campus population.

Faculty should be given swag that can be of use to them in their position at your institution. Items that will serve a purpose for them will be used often and brought with them when needed. Remember, visibility is key! Marketing materials like pens, notepads, lanyards, ID holders, phone cases, jackets, vests, and laptop cases are all perfect items to supply faculty with.

The Full Picture

College swag items should be incorporated in your higher education marketing wherever possible. A true top to bottom strategy will include branded items for faculty, current students, and prospective students. Incorporating promotional materials this way conveys your school is a community worth being a part of, instills a sense of pride in your members, and gets your brand out to as many people as possible.

Ready to implement the top to bottom swag strategy? Velocity Print’s custom promotional products for colleges will help you get the right look and message to prospective students. Velocity also offers print and mail solutions for all your other marketing needs.  Contact us at 888.372.3487 or by email at