Kevin Lyons
Research Supervisor

Get to Know the Intellectual Omnivores

Recent Data Helps University Admissions Counselors Target Right Fit Students

In September, Experian Marketing Services released the Spring 2015 Teen data from its National Consumer Study. The responses include 266 high school seniors that contained a segment of 58 students who strongly indicated that they “enjoyed going to school.” This segment, the one-in-five seniors who love to learn, may be an attractive target for certain colleges and universities, such as liberal arts colleges. With that in mind, we dug into this data to give admissions counselors a glimpse into what drives these “intellectual omnivores,” what to say to them, and how to engage them.

About the Intellectual Omnivores
This student is typically more career-driven than the average student, but also enjoys life. They are risk-takers, not afraid to appear different than their peers. They make friends easily, know people from all walks of life, and have a genuine interest in the people they meet. They are also readers who enjoy spending time on their own. Service to others is important to them; they are willing to help others even if doesn’t help them.

So in terms of messaging, what does this mean? They are career-driven but don’t look past the experiences at hand. Intellectual omnivores don’t just want to understand what outcomes to expect (although those are important); they want to learn how they will live today and within the next four years.

They thrive on meeting new and interesting people; talking about the diversity on campus – both diversity of backgrounds and diversity of thought resonate with them. Additionally, their interest in others suggests that in-depth accounts of current student’s personal experiences will engage intellectual omnivores.

How to Reach Intellectual Omnivores
They are heavy users of online reviews – two and a half times more likely than their peers to pay attention to ratings/reviews posted by others. Peer-to-peer college websites, like College Confidential and Rate My Professors, are the types of websites these students use frequently.

Half of intellectual omnivores always read any mail addressed to them (compared to only 32 percent of all seniors). When engaging intellectual omnivores, the cost of a direct mail campaign would be would be justified when targeting this audience.

The Data
For those who love digging into the data as much as I do, here are the numbers from the National Consumer Study. These figures are reported as index numbers, which compares the intellectual omnivore segment to all high school student segments. The total equals 100 and the index number is expressed as 100 times the ratio to the base value.

  • They are not afraid to appear quite different from others (152 index)
  • They are willing to help others even if doesn’t help them (128 index)
  • They make friends easily (144 index)
  • They have a genuine interest in the people they meet (152 index)
  • They know people from all walks of life (179 index)
  • A career is very important to them (130 index)
  • They like to enjoy life and don’t worry about the future (218 index)
  • They read books outside of schoolwork (140 index)
  • They also read the newspaper (130 index)
  • They like spending time on their own (145 index)
  • They use social media nearly as much as the average senior (98 index) but only indexed at 62 for past week Facebook usage
  • They pay attention to ratings/reviews posted online by others (250 index)
  • They read any piece of mail addressed to them (144 index)
  • 24 percent were a member of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts (343 index)