college campus signage provides direction for incoming students

Why College Campus Signage is Critical To Attracting and Retaining Students

Published on: October 8, 2019

For new college students, the branding of a higher education environment is one of the top contributing factors leading them to feel “at home” on campus. Like any other product, colleges and universities advertise across a wide variety of channels—but most students make that final conversion after stepping foot on campus during a college tour. College campus signage is the first thing they see. 

Signage is crucial for retaining ongoing students as well. Nobody wants to get lost on their way to BIO 101 due to a complicated campus layout and an unhelpful signage program. According to a Clearinghouse report, over a third of college students transfer schools at least once, and most of them make the switch in their second year. The sooner you can get students to feel comfortable and confident navigating your campus, the longer they’re likely to stick around. 

If your institution is currently looking to update your campus signage, it’s crucial to ensure your investment goes directly toward attracting potential students and retaining your current cohorts for years to come. 

How College Campus Signage Works to Impress Students

To understand why college campus signage is so critical to student acquisition and retention, we can learn a lot from real-world examples. The following higher education institutions made crucial changes to their signage programs that made a big impact on the student experience:  

West Valley College

college campus signage for west valley college

West Valley was eager to replace their dated campus entrance with a more powerful arrival statement. They invested in a bold 60-foot steel entry monument that proudly displayed the West Valley College oak leaf logo, and integrated the new signage with drought-resistant landscaping. The campus now has a statement gateway sign that communicates to students that West Valley is a modern, well-kept, and forward-thinking institution. 

Southwestern College

college campus signage for southwestern college

When Southwestern College renovated DeVore Stadium and built out a new sports complex with classrooms, offices, and a lecture hall, the entire complex needed environmental branding. The stadium is a huge draw for new students, especially those who tour the campus, and is the perfect spot to communicate pride in the college’s brand. Monument signage, branded graphics, and a new wayfinding program helped this student-recruitment asset do its job even better. 

Laney College 

After years of “patchwork” signage projects on a constantly-growing campus, Laney College finally invested in a comprehensive overhaul of their signage and wayfinding programs. The institution developed a set of sign standards to carry them through future expansions and unified branding across the entire campus. The new signage program also reinforced ADA accessibility routes across campus, improving the student experience significantly. 

Investing in Effective College Campus Signage 

Signage isn’t the only secret to attracting and retaining students—but it could be the element that tips the scale in your favor. Updated campus signage has the potential to transform the entire feel of your college or university. If you’re currently sitting with signage that’s confusing, outdated, or incomplete, it’s time to consider a renovation. Gateway and wayfinding signs act as the face of your institution to every visiting and returning student. With new, well-designed signage, you’re campus will make an even greater first impression. 

The secret to maximizing your investment is to hire a signage design firm that understands the complexity of higher education environments. With an experienced team at your back, you’ll be able to implement a branded signage program that meets your budgetary requirements, improves the student experience, and lasts for many years to come.


GNU Group is a signage design firm with over 30 years’ experience completing projects for higher education industry campuses The projects listed above are just a taste of our extensive prior experience in educational signage design. If you’re looking for an expert firm to take over the planning, design, implementation, and maintenance of a new signage program at your college or university, connect with our team today.