TikTok, the fastest growing social platform of the decade, has taken the world by storm, leaving marketers and admissions teams wondering how they can make use of this new Gen-Z and Millennial favorite. TikTok was founded in 2016 by a Chinese company called ByteDance, and as of November of this year, has reached 1.5 billion downloads. With every download, it becomes clearer to colleges and universities that this is where the next generation of students is. Many have jumped on the TikTok bandwagon early, realizing that this might just be the way to engage potential students looking for a more “real” look at the school, rather than the academic side they can find everywhere else. Some of these institutions are even hiring current students as “talent ambassadors” specifically to create content for TikTok with the goal of recruiting future students. 

To round out the year, we took a look at some of the schools that have taken the app and run with it, racking up likes and followers seemingly with ease. As you look for inspiration for your own TikTok plans in the new year, here are five of the best examples of TikTok for higher ed that we’ve come across so far.

Brigham Young University 

Who: @cosmo_cougar

What they’re doing: They’ve made their mascot, Cosmo the Cougar, the face of their account, and use it to share simple and engaging videos of Cosmo doing dances that are on trend. 

Best of the best: Cosmo doing The Rollie at a BYU football game, which has over 4.5 million likes. 

Rochester Institute of Technology

Who: @rittigers

What they’re doing: Showcasing all aspects of campus life, and telling the story of their school beyond the branded admissions pages. Their content lets current students feel engaged while giving prospective students a glimpse into what life at RIT is like. 

Best of the best: They leaned into the oddly satisfying trend, showcasing a glass art experiment being done, which has garnered nearly 720k likes.

University of Florida 

Who: @UF

What they’re doing: University of Florida was one of the first schools to use the platform, and has inspired countless others to jump into the ring. The content they share tends to be simple: Theater students moonwalking or someone running up the steps of the football stadium. UF excels at doing a lot with what they already have going on, and proving that not every social platform needs a massive budget of money or time. 

Best of the best: A gymnastics routine set to Halsey’s Without Me, one of their earlier forays into TikTok, is their best performing video with nearly 500k likes. 

Austin Peay State University

Who: @austinpeaystate

What they’re doing: Relatively new to the platform, Austin Peay State sees TikTok as a recruiting tool. They post fun, engaging video content that might not have had a home otherwise. 

Best of the best: The best example of this fun side of university social media? Students building a fruit-smashing ping pong cannon. Yes, you read that right.

Indiana University Bloomington

Who: @IUBloomington

What they’re doing: IU Bloomington is leaning into the trends the platform has to offer, especially when it relates to things like dance crazes.

Best of the best: The IU Redsteppers doing the #DipandLeanChallenge, with the caption that reads, simply, IU Redsteppers can do it, can you?