Colleges and universities invest heavily in student recruitment. But, with an ever expanding array of tools to reach teens – from email to apps to text messaging – schools have more options than ever. Fortunately, we have solid research on how students engage with higher education institutions in the digital realm. The verdict? Students and their parents identified college websites as the best resource of information about a college.
Our 2014 E-Expectations Report, The Online Preferences of College-Bound High School Seniors and Their Parents, surveyed 1,000 high school seniors and more than 500 parents nationwide to provide an in-depth look at mobile and web trends. Here’s what we found:
- 97% of high school seniors said the college website was the resource that offered the most reliable information about a college or university. In comparison, 85% of seniors said email was reliable, and 53% said social media was reliable.
- This is an area where parents and their teens actually agree – 89% of parents said the college website was the resource that offered the most reliable information about a college or university.
- 77% of students rated college websites as the most inﬂuential resource for their college search. In comparison, email came in second at 53%, and college planning sites ranked third at 41%.
- Students said they prefer the web over Facebook. 94% of college-bound high school seniors said they would choose the college website over Facebook if they had to choose between the two.
- 67% of high school seniors said that the college website made a difference in their perception of the college.
- 59% of high school seniors said that they believed the quality of education offered by the college was related to the experience they had on the college website.
A key take-away for colleges and universities looking to ramp up their outreach is to invest in a positive website experience. Your public-facing website can make a big difference in the perceptions of the institution for college-bound students and their parents. This is where institutions can take advantage of the Site and Page Analytics Gadgets in OU Campus v10 to test new content. Or, think about conducting a focus group with students willing to offer feedback. And, don’t forget to check back next year for the latest report on web trends for college-bound students.