5 min read

9 Best College Ads That We Loved in 2023

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
May 29, 2024

Let’s see some of the best college ads of 2023. This is one of our favorite types of advertising for a very simple reason. College ads are always inspiring. Uplifting and motivating to achieve more are at the core of the best university ads. And we’re absolutely delighted to see colleges get creative with their approach to advertising. That’s why we keep doing these lists showcasing the top examples of a college advertisement done right. 

Get inspired with us by watching these awesome college ads 2023.

1. Be Notre Dame - University of Notre Dame

Why: short, punchy, and on point. That’s how we like the college advertisement to be. The University of Notre Dame goes there with its latest “Be Notre Dame” video. Basically, the ad encompasses everything a potential student will live through while studying at college. And it’s exciting to say the least. The powerful editing and all the right words make the ad even better. The ultimate question in the ad is “What does it mean to be Notre Dame?”. Now we know. 

2. The Promise is in the Place - Pomona College

Why: focusing on the location of a college is always a great strategy. Pomona chose to highlight its California setting in this love letter of an ad and we’re all in for it. The footage is beautiful, the narrator is soft-spoken, and the vibe is inspirational as it should be. This college advertisement works both as a promotional video for the state and as a nice ad for a college that is set in this state. When it ends you wish that you were there yourself enjoying the sunshine and innovation. And such a reaction is everything you can wish for a college ad. 

3. A Year of Incredible Impact - Johns Hopkins University

Why: rarely is a college ad irresistibly interesting. Not with the latest video from Johns Hopkins University. This one captures your attention immediately and doesn’t let go until the end. The key to success here is the way the information is presented and the dynamic, contemporary editing that makes every second count. There’s even Jimmy Fallon at one point talking about the invention of the Johns Hopkins University, now this is a celebrity endorsement. 

While you may or may not have the achievements of the scale this college has, presenting them in an interesting fashion is an absolute must. Take this video as an example of an expertly done presentation. 

4. Team Davidson - Davidson College

Why: one of the most effective approaches to craft a memorable college ad is to focus on a specific thing that defines the experience. In the case of Davidson College, this is teamwork and the 30-second video does an excellent job promoting it. While it’s a pretty simple thing to produce, for a prospective college student it’s a great introduction to the values of the future university. Specialization matters so be laser-focused in the ads you create. 

5. This is MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Why: when you’re regarded as one of the top universities in the world and in the US, do you really need an ad? Still, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has recently produced a killer one. Named “This is MIT”, this college commercial uses the movement to highlight the process of studying at this uni. The visuals are beautiful, the editing is impeccable, and the whole thing is very motivational. 

6. Welcome to Stanford - Stanford University

Why: let the students talk. That’s one of the best strategies to make your college campaign relatable. Of course, when you’re at Stanford things are a little simpler. This “Welcome to Stanford” commercial works because it’s humane. The description lists all the people from the video so you know these are the real students and not paid actors. Also, just look at the quality is top-notch and that helps too. 

7. In This Space - Vanderbilt University

Why: when you’re looking for fresh ideas for making a memorable college ad, take a look at the one from Vanderbilt University. The camera work here is fantastic, the footage is entirely shot from the drone and edited ideally. It’s very moving and you can’t break away from the screen. The great choice of music also helps.

8. Explore Harvard - Harvard University

Why: less is more in some instances. And that’s the road that Harvard chooses to take in their “Explore Harvard” 52-second college ad. Is it justified? Absolutely! Chances are that you know a thing or two about Harvard already and this commercial is destined to stimulate your curiosity even further. In this regard, it’s an ideal ad, the one that shows everything exciting about the study process at one of the most exclusive universities in the world.

9. Another great year to be a Florida Gator - University of Florida

Why: while it’s more of a year’s wrap-up than a classic college ad, this University of Florida video is full of colors, emotions, and great vibes. These are usually the ingredients for a fantastic college commercial. The footage serves as a perfect peek into the everyday life of the University of Florida students. There’s no narration here, just top-notch visuals that show the studying process, the fun, the beauty of Florida, and the rich sports agenda. You go Gators!

Our Previous List of 9 Amazing College Ads 2022

Best college ads are brief, inspiring, and epic. Investing in the college is one of the life-turning decisions for the parents and the future students, so the ad should take that into consideration. And we love a good use of creativity in the education space. These college advertisements definitely know how to produce an awesome video and we’d like to share the most amazing entries in 2022.

Talking about the qualities that make the college ads great, the first thing not to do is be generic. We’ve all seen this countless times: smiling students and even more smiling teachers talking about how fantastic is the education in the particular place they are promoting. As we’ve mentioned, choosing a college is an extremely important thing to do and it pays off by being original and producing the content of the highest quality. So strive for perfection when crafting the college advertisement. 

Without further ado, let’s see what 2022 gave us in terms of best university ads.

1. Becoming a Florida Gator - University of Florida

Although having less than 1000 views and not possessing 4K quality, the University of Florida’s short clip is one of our favorite college ads of 2022 for a simple reason. It is relatable.

It captures the unsimulated reaction of ordinary college students becoming “Florida Gators”. And this relatability works on the deepest emotional level. You can almost feel those young girls' and boys’ pride, their tears of joy, and their excitement about the future that getting admitted to the university hold for them. 

And we think it’s beautiful, nothing works better than the real emotions. 

2. Top Public University - University of San Diego 

When you have such a stunning setting as the University of San Diego, it’s enough to show it in a beautiful way to lure students in.

The institution goes the smart way for this ad by combining spectacular shots of both the campus (which may well be one of the most beautiful campuses in the world) and the relevant facts about what the university gives its students exactly in terms of the educational process, salary, employment opportunities, etc. And such a combination definitely works in this case. 

3. Welcome to Rice University

The right editing matters when it comes to a super quick ad that has the aim of capturing attention. You can use the Rice University video as an example of how to be brief but impressive. The video features flashing footage of everything that makes this college stand out and the editing makes you pay attention. 

Maybe at times, it’s too much, but it does the job in the end. Dynamics is always perfect for a YouTube ad, for example when you’ve got only a few seconds to convey your message. So you can use editing techniques to do it more effectively. 

4. We Are SC - University of Southern California

It’s Los Angeles and, naturally, it’s cinematic. The editing is on point and having the college’s marching band as a soundtrack is a killer move. The video highlights the most important things to know about studying at the Univerisity of Southern California and features some of the stunning LA visuals. Also, can we talk about how good the color correction is? 

This commercial shows how you can use 30 seconds to set the scene. With this background drumming It has both Birdman and Whiplash vibes to it and we think it’s wonderful. 

5. It Starts Here - The University of Texas at Austin

They say everything is bigger in Texas. That ensues college ads too. Seriously, take a look at the It Starts Here commercial by the University of Texas at Austin. It’s hands-down the most epic and well-produced college ad we’ve seen. Possibly ever. The pacing, the quality of the video, the heroes, the visuals. It’s perfect and it’s made with passion. Possibly, it has cost the university a penny, but the result is definitely worth it. From the beginning till the end it grips you. 

And we won’t be surprised if after watching the video you apply to the University of Texas, so is the power here. 

6. Endless Possibilities | The Bulldog Nation’s Impact - University of Georgia

Being at a college is about overcoming challenges, growing as a person and as a professional, and, ultimately, it’s about changing the world. The ad from the University of Georgia puts the limelight on this process in an impressive fashion.

Rather than showing the campus life or describing the advantages of studying at their college (that we’ve seen countless times before), the college highlights the scientific part of studying, the research. And it works to invoke the inner explorer in you. 

7. Rhapsody in Orange | A Love Letter to Syracuse University

Long-form videos are hard to pull off when it comes to the promotion of a university. But in the case of Syracuse, they’ve done it with a swing. Choosing a university is a meticulous process that usually takes more than a day or a week. The potential students and their parents can spend months finding the one. That’s why long videos that are done correctly would definitely have an impact on the selection of a future alma mater. 

This college video of Syracuse University is an example of great storytelling. You may even tear up a little in the end. It instantly creates a connection between you and the university and gives you a wish to belong. Awesome job, 'Cuse. 

8. Let There Be Light - Baylor University

It’s a simple video but very heartwarming and welcoming. “Let there be light” is a great slogan and it works nicely for this particular college. In 30 seconds the campus life is told using a combination of images and videos. When you don’t have an astronomical budget, that’s a trick you can use to craft a solid college ad. 

9. Challenge Accepted - American University

The voice of Barack Obama opens this brilliant ad from DC’s American University. It is comprised of multiple images edited in a dynamic fashion. Apart from the former US President, the video features several other prominent political figures and this combination definitely works. 

Our Previous List of 9 Amazing College Ads 2019

college ads

Who doesn't like to watch a creative college ad once in a while? We certainly do and we would like to invite you on this tour of the best college commercials of 2019. 

At first glance, one might think that the college advertisement should be super creative per se. However, take a pause now, close your eyes and remember how many hilarious or poignant college ads you can name? We know, not so many are there. There are two sides to it though: on one hand, the college ads are primarily targeted to the ones who are going to pay, the parents. That may explain some of the dryness of a regular commercial in this domain. On the other hand, a good ad costs lots of money to produce and this is also a factor we have to take into account when talking about the cultural impact of this particular type of advertising. 

Nevertheless, 2019 has brought us many fascinating videos where colleges competed in versatility, musical abilities, talent and fun. And we, at Kitcast, are absolutely in love with such creative outbursts and it's our pleasure to introduce you to this rating where we collected those who absolutely nailed it with their college ads. So let's go to a school of good commercials from Kitcast.

1. Stanford Medical School's "thank you, next"

Is it an ad? Technically no. Can it impact the potential applicant's decision to stick with Stanford Medical? Oh yes. Just hit play and you will understand everything. 

This wonderfully produced video is in fact a parody of Ariana Grande's "thank you, next" song performed by the students of the school themselves. Some kind of Glee but with real people instead of actors. It's irresistible in its youthful charms getting you instantly into a college nostalgia (if you've already graduated) and buying you up on an idea to just apply to Stanford (if you and your parents are still thinking). Isn't it what good ads should do? 

Also, we can't notice the fact that apart from being a good college representation video, it is also a cultural phenomenon that can inspire other universities around the country to do the same. 

Thank you, Stanford Medical School, we're already excited about your next (video). 

2. University of Phoenix's "Discover Your Wings"

Is it normal when you cry at the end of a college ad? We did after this one. In the 2019 entry, the University of Phoenix went full John Lewis and produced a brilliant tear jerking story of chasing your dreams. 

The cinematic video follows a little boy who observes how her mother "discovers her wings" after taking a course at the university thus learning "how to fly". It runs only 1 minute but what a minute it is. If you dig deeper, you will see that it's not the first time the Arizona capital's university went down the awesome ad road, they have been steadily doing that for several years now.

We would just add that from the marketing perspective, we would absolutely love if other colleges would turn to cinematic approaches in their college ads. This University of Phoenix's ad can be a great learning and inspiring point.  

3. Caltech's "Break Through: Infinite Possibilities"

There is something Interstellar-like in Caltech's 2019 Break Through: Infinite Possibilities ad. First, the music here is absolutely goosebump-inducing, never failing to keep your spirit high throughout the whole 4 minutes running time. The same thing Christopher Nolan did with the help of Hans Zimmer in the director's space-themed movie. 

Secondly, the video is simply epic. Because it's one thing when you see science-fiction on the screen, it's another thing to have actual scientists to talk about their achievements that are actually changing the world. Black holes, molecules, quantum technology, climate modeling, robotics. Caltech is very good at it, maybe better than everyone else in the world right now. And this video works perfectly to present it. 

It's even hard to call it a college ad, it's more a fascinating journey through humanity's biggest scientific achievements, no less.  

4. Tuft's "A to Z"

What is the recipe for making an interesting and entertaining college ad? Follow the footsteps of Tufts and their A-Z, they definitely know it. In 2019 video introducing the Welcome Class of 2023, the school doesn't go with a typical format of the commercials that simply state the facts about their institution, it creates a whole new format. 

Following a one-take structure, the students of Tufts take turns (and letters) to tell you more about what it's like to study there, one letter at a time. While it's duration may seem a bit over the top with a whopping 8 minutes, as you are watching you notice that you simply can't stop, you're intrigued by each new letter and want to discover the whole alphabet of Tufts. 

A perfect lesson in keeping the viewer's attention and one of the confident college ad wins of 2019 for us. 

5. Villanova University's "What is Villanovan?"

Sometimes 30 seconds is enough to capture your attention. Villanova University uses the brevity to convey a simple message: "Ignite change. Go Nova". Or in other words, "Villanovans rule". What can be a better motto for a marketing campaign? 

If you analyze the video, it's not, in fact, much different from other college ads. But it's the extra-rapid pace, high-quality visuals, punchy musical accompaniment and the overall epicness of it all that makes it work and stand out from the rest of classic college ads.  

6. Duke University's "This is Duke"

Another 30 seconds and another big win. Duke University's fame in the scientific circles speaks for itself with 15 Nobel laureates and 3 Turing Award winners. It doesn't need lengthy introductions. That's why the video is very fast and on point. Also, it's a bit different from Villanova's approach, there is no voiceover here. Just "This is Duke" and several incentivizing imperative verbs. And it's that "less is more" approach that makes the magic work. At the end of the video you just can't miss the chance to check out the Duke's application process, you want to belong.

This is Duke and this is some top-notch college marketing.

7. UC Berkeley's "Baking her way to Berkeley"

Although this is not an ad, it still works to the benefit of Berkeley, California's iconic educational institution that regularly tops all possible university ratings and is known for its excellence. 

As far as the college ads go, it's almost always about the success, getting higher, being better, reaching for the stars. That's why this feature from Berkeleys is so different, it tells a story of failure (with the happy ending of course). The video follows the story of Anamaría Morales, the owner and founder of College Confectionista, a cheesecake business she started to be able to afford to go to college. The video is even more about the will to achieve better results, overcome difficulties and succeed. 

The fact that it's not so much about Berkeley itself but more about the significance of it in the life of a person who attends it is also a powerful messaging advantage to mention here. 

We love such storytelling and we want it more from other colleges too. 

8. University of Notre Dame's "Many Voices. One Conversation."

Sometimes it's not about being overly creative, sometimes it's all about choosing the right message, representing the right approach and sticking to it. The University of Notre Dame did just that with their "Many Voices. One Conversation." ad. It's simple in execution but it does a great branding job to this school, it tells you clearly what you will get in terms of values if you apply to Notre Dame. Straight to the point and very powerful so.

9. Mississippi State University's "Where we ring true"

Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions of your life, why not making it the most epic one too? Making your hair instantly shiver, Mississippi State University's "Where we ring true" ad is a motivational crescendo. Sounding like a poem, it builds and builds on the pace providing a pleasant catharsis in the end with the "we ring true" messaging. Quite possibly, it's one of the most powerful college ads we've ever seen. Not everybody can afford to do such a commercial but Mississippi State wins our hearts with this bold move of this college advertisement perfection. 

Subscribe to newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest blog posts to your inbox every week.

By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.