2013 E-Expectations NL Report: Top 7 most interesting findings for #highered

July 16th, 2013 Karine Joly No Comments

NL2013_reportThe brand new Noel-Levitz report on the E-expectations of college bound seniors and juniors has been released this morning.

I had the opportunity to review it several times as Stephanie Geyer from Noel-Levitz emailed me a copy of the final report a couple of weeks ago after I promised (crossed my heart and everything) to hold on my blog post until the official release date of today :-)

The extra review time I got as a result really helped me unearth the most interesting points in this 20-page report.

As you know if you’ve been working in higher education, the yearly E-Expectations research always provides very interesting insights on the psyche and preferences of college-bound high school students when it comes to the college admission process.

This year, the results are based on a phone survey conducted in Spring 2013 with a 2,018 sample of college-bound juniors and seniors, so the data can’t be fresher :-)

I’ve identified 7 interesting insights from the full 20-page report (PDF).

1) 90% of seniors and juniors have visited a college website within the past 30 days

While it’s not surprising for seniors (65% visited a website within the past week of the survey call), the large majority of high school juniors put the Web to good use when it comes to their college search. 54% of juniors visited a college website within the past 7 days of the survey phone call.

When they browse your website, can these juniors find web content to catch their interest? How can your website engage them further in your admissions funnel?

2) While 75% of students have a mobile device, 82% prefer to view a college website on a computer

Ouch.

Among the 43% who do most of their web browsing on a mobile device, a third still prefers to view college websites on a computer.

This can be explained in part by the fact that most college websites are still not very mobile-friendly.

Have you tried to find something on your university website with your smartphone or iPod Touch? How did it go?

While the responsive web design approach has definitely helped institutions catch up with the multiplication of connected devices (we’ve done our part to help with the course on responsive web design for Higher Ed), there’s probably still a lot of work to do.

Going responsive for an institutional or admissions website definitely makes a lot of sense as 51% of the students indicate a preference for websites adapting to the display of mobile devices.

Yet, according to Stephanie Geyer, there might also be something else at play with this reliance on computers for viewing college websites. For these students, the computer is where work happens and the college search is seen as work.

However, with younger generations relying more and more on tablets for school work, this might be different in the years to come.

3) The Mobile App as the ultimate engagement step for prospective students?

The proponents of the mobile web in higher ed might not like it, but it looks like prospective students are interested in school mobile apps to help them with their college search.

Moreover, 71% indicated they would even like to complete enrollment at a specific school via an app. However, only 20% did download school apps.

In this context, it looks like downloading the mobile app of a school could be the ultimate engagement indicator for college-bound students.

4) If you don’t advertise online, you’re missing an opportunity to engage 30% of college-bound high school students

Teenagers don’t like advertising and don’t click on ads, right?
WRONG!

As surprising as this might look 30% of the surveyed high school students indicated they had clicked on online ads for a colleges.
In almost half (49%) of the cases, these ads were on Google (doing any PPC on Google? No? Well, it looks like the lead generating websites probably got these clicks then…), 24% on Facebook and 13% on Yahoo.

It’s time to review your advertising buys! PPC advertising is not easy, but the basics can be learned. That’s actually the reason why I’ve asked Joshua Dodson to incorporate advertising on Google and Facebook in the curriculum of the new Higher Ed Experts 4-week online course on higher ed SEO.

5) Repeat after me: email is NOT dead

Despite everything that has been said and written, college-bound high-school students do NOT ignore your emails in their college search:

  • 75% want to send an email to an admissions counselor
  • 98% will open email from a college they are interested in
  • 68% from a college they don’t know
  • 80% find reliable information in these messages
  • 53% find them influential in their search

If you want to maximize your chances, make sure your messages are mobile-friendly though as 47% of students check their email on their mobile device every day, 67% every week. Using the responsive web design approach, it is actually easy to make sure your emails look good on any devices.

6) Phone calls are back in business?

While the campus visit is the most (85% of the surveyed students) popular resource during the enrollment process, 66% of college-bound high school students still want to be able to call someone in admissions.

Personalized attention face-to-face or on the phone is what prospective students want. Period.

7) What happened to Facebook?

I’m not sure what happened this year.

While 67% of the surveyed students had visited a school Facebook page in 2012, the proportion fell down to 35% this year.

Is it Facebook fatigue?
Is it because people don’t have time to visit Facebook pages anymore? Do YOU have time?

I’m not sure but, this is something to watch closely.

When they look at Facebook pages, 72% of the students wants to look at photos, so make sure your updates aren’t too wordy.

2013 Expectations for College Facebook Pages

What do YOU think?

These top insights don’t cover all the points in the report as I’ve chosen to focus on the most surprising findings for this year.
If you’ve read the report, what did YOU find the most surprising?
Tell us by posting a comment!