Unlike first-time college students, transfer students have experience navigating the world of academia. They’ve shifted their priorities away from concerns around “college fit” and “college experience.” And because they’ve already begun their academic journey, they can see an end to their undergraduate career in sight.
These factors alone should tell you how to structure your website to meet the needs of these savvy students. They know what they want and they know where to look. But if they don’t find it, they’ll look elsewhere.
How to ensure your website meets transfer students' needs
To keep prospective students focused on your school—and to prevent them from shopping around on other institutional websites—it’s imperative that your college or university’s website is as comprehensive as possible.
You want to make sure everything a transfer student needs and wants to know about your school can be found—and found easily—on your website.
We explored the data compiled in this year’s E-Expectations® of Transfer Students: A 2020 Trend Report and created a specific guide for campus marketers that focuses on website experiences.
This list of website “hits” and “misses” is based on the expectations and frustrations cited by transfer students surveyed for the report.
Transfer Student Frustrations with School Websites
Not Enough Detail About Academic Programs
Providing an overview of majors and curriculum is not enough. Transfer students want
an easy-to-find, comprehensive list of academic programs—and they want details about
each program. A guided pathways approach is a good way to meet transfer student needs
by providing them with this information. You’ll also want to include a list of potential
careers for each major as well as detailed course descriptions with prerequisites
so that students can make informed decisions about the classes they take and programs
Your website might have basic information, but when a student gets ready to dig deeper, they’ll want to talk with a real person. Can they find contact names, emails, and phone numbers with ease? If not, it’s time to do a clean sweep of your website and make sure this kind of vital information is easy to find. Transfer students are paying close attention to whether your site is up to date. If you want to recruit transfer students, be consistent in adding and updating information about campus events, student experiences, clubs, and activities.
Lack of Career-Specific Information
It’s one thing to enjoy a particular major; it’s another to know whether you can make
a living with a certain degree. Transfer students, especially in the current economic
climate, count job security as a prominent factor in their academic decision. They
want information about salaries and job placement after graduation. They’ll be interested
in learning what your career center offers and whether there are specific programs
such as mentoring and resume writing that can help them in their search.
Transfer Student Needs: Website Must-Haves
Clear and Accessible Academic Program Information
Transfer students not only want to see a list of academic programs your institution
offers, but they’re also interested in content and tools customized specifically for
their needs. This includes information on how to transfer credits along with stories
about how transfer students have been successful at your school.
Students get frustrated when they have to navigate confusing pages, broken links,
and outdated content on your website. It’s not enough to simply upload content to
your site; it needs to be visually appealing and mobile-responsive. It needs to be
chock full of helpful tools, and provide simple design and seamless navigation that
makes it simple to find information. If your school’s site lacks the power to support
these digital elements, it might be time to consider a new content management system
(CMS) that can.
Statistics About Recent Graduates
Transfer students want to see how recent graduates have fared in the job market. They devour stories about alumni experiences, diving into how they landed jobs, and what it’s like to look for work after graduation. The more you can show successful student outcomes, the likelier that transfer students will seriously consider enrolling at your institution.
Leverage your CMS to encourage transfer student registrations
Your website is a super tool when it comes to recruiting transfer students, so don’t wait to optimize your college or university’s digital presence. Provide handy tools; present information in a clear, concise manner; and make it easy for students to find and understand the academic path they need to take for the outcome they envision. By elevating their engagement on your website, you’ll meet their expectations and increase the potential of their enrollment at your institution.
To learn more about transfer student web expectations and experiences, download E-Expectations of Transfer Students 2020: Focus on Website Experiences.