‘CUNY By Students’ at the Forefront of University Ads

One of CUNY’s recent advertisements that can be found all around New York City. Photo credit: CUNY website


Through a student-led Instagram account profile called ‘CUNY By Students,’ interns are heavily pushing out content that appeals to other students in hopes of increasing enrollment at the university. The account was created in October 2020, and allows for a unique form of representation of and by students in the age of new media.

“CUNY aspires to show students that the future is bright for us! We are trying to make CUNY a more fun environment. We just hope to reach more students and show them how cool CUNY students are,” said Rachel Dong, a junior at Baruch College and a digital media intern for CUNY By Students.

Dong first began her internship last October. She has since worked up the ranks as she is now the manager of CUNY’s TikTok page and is put in charge of big campaigns administered by CUNY By Students, including the “What CUNY Wears” series. In this series, she and a team of other interns travel to several CUNY campuses to hold video shoots of different students’ outfits to showcase the diversity of clothing and self-expression present. Dong heads the shooting, producing, and editing of this series. “What CUNY Wears” is a part of the CUNY By Students agenda to gain more traction from both CUNY students and high schoolers who are curious about what the university has to offer.

“CUNY By Students is the less formal CUNY page that should look more fun, interesting, and relatable. It should tell students that we see you and we get you,” Dong said.

Among the several initiatives that the CUNY By Students team is responsible for is the “Degree Without the Debt” CUNY marketing campaign, where diverse groups of students were chosen to model for advertisements that promoted the university being a more affordable option compared to other schools.

“My favorite part about working with CUNY had to be the time that I saw myself gazing at my own face on the MTA,” said Brian Ramos, a recent Brooklyn College graduate and a former social media intern for CUNY By Students who participated in the “Degree Without the Debt” campaign. “I’m grateful to have been one of the models representing CUNY for the campaign that was seen by the millions of people that take the subway daily.”

More and more CUNY ads are being placed on buses, trains, and billboards across New York City, a recent attempt by the social media account and university to boost enrollment. Interns are in charge of organizing and executing the shoots that eventually make their way to numerous MTA stations where millions of people can view them.

Most recently, CUNY launched a marketing campaign titled “A Degree for Every Dream” earlier this October, which was just in time for college admissions season. With a diverse group of fresh faces to demonstrate inclusivity efforts at CUNY, the large-scale campaign that featured over 60 current and former CUNY students was intended to highlight “the University’s unrivaled affordability, vast range of academic programming, career support services and social opportunities,” as stated on the official CUNY website.