What are high school juniors looking for on a college website?
Financial aid calculators, tuition calculators and online applications

July 29th, 2005 Karine Joly 3 Comments

Inside Higher Education, the online higher ed magazine, has the scoop on a study conducted on 1,000 high school juniors in the United States by the National Research Center for College and University Admissions and 2 higher ed consulting companies.

According to the journalist Scott Jaschik, “The study will be officially released tomorrow at a conference in Washington on recruiting and retention issues.”

So, what’s the scoop?

Nothing earth-shattering. But, again you know how much your boss (or his/her boss) loves some good old stats. That’s why I always try to share what comes my way.

Here are the most interesting results quoted from Jaschik’s article (as the study hasn’t been published yet):

  • “74 percent of the students in the survey said that they used the Web to consider potential colleges.”
  • “56 percent of those surveyed said that they prefer looking at a college Web site to reading a brochure that comes in the mail.”
  • “By far the top function they reported using (72 percent of respondents) was sending an inquiry form with a question.”
  • “Asked what they would like to do on a college Web site, the top answers were using a financial aid calculator (90 percent), using a tuition calculator to determine total costs (88 percent) and completing an application (86 percent).”

This point is probably the most interesting one, as it shows that our future students want to be able to use the possibilities offered by the Web to help them in the whole admission process. Higher ed websites are expected to present not only the college experience through photos and meaningful content, but also to provide tools to make the decision process easier.

Something I didn’t get in Jaschik’s article is how he deducts that this “new survey of juniors suggests that they have mixed feelings about using colleges’ Web sites to pick places to apply” from the following point “For instance, 56 percent of those surveyed said that they prefer looking at a college Web site to reading a brochure that comes in the mail. But while only 44 percent of all juniors prefer viewbooks to Web sites, that number rises 49 percent for students with A averages.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if 49% of A students prefer viewbooks to websites, isn’t there a big change that 51% prefer websites to viewbooks?

I guess the lesson learned is that an integrated marketing strategy (publications working with websites) is the best approach.