Does Your School's Web Content Connect with Prospective Students?
Yes, they’re reading your direct mail and your email messages. And if that gets their interest, what’s the next step for a prospective student? Far-and-away, your website. According to recent data, 72% of interested students respond to direct mail by researching a school online. And 94% of interested students respond to email by clicking on links or going online for research.
In a recent post, we talked about the latest trends in web design. Now it’s time to fill that cutting-edge design with good content. What makes content “good”? As you consider the various audience for your website, the underlying question is, what do they want to know about your school?
Of course there’s the basic must-have information—lists of academic majors/programs and information about enrollment, financial aid, and campus visits. But there’s still so much more. If done well, your website can be a place where prospective students and parents glimpse real life on your campus.
Here are some often-missed opportunities for helping prospective students connect with your school.
Surveys show that 63% of high school seniors and 61% of high school juniors want to see job placement stats on college websites. Yet 33% of four-year private institutions 51% of four-year public institutions are not providing these outcome messages.
Gen Z students need to know that their investment in college education will pay off. They want reassurance that students like them are successful in their post-college aspirations. If you’re already including job stats on your website, make this feature even better by adding short testimonials of recent graduates.
Would you move to a new city without learning more about what real life is like there? Don’t rely on your local tourism bureau to present this information, since that won’t necessarily speak to the interests of Gen-Zers taking on a new world on their own.
On your website, you have the opportunity to present the best of your location from the perspective of a college student. Highlight the local hotspots—restaurant and social districts nearby, outdoor activities, and places of cultural interest that appeal to today’s college students. If you’re already doing this, personalize the information by featuring pictures and stories of your own students enjoying what they love most about your area.
Let your students do the talking about your academic programs, the campus, and student life. Sprinkle punchy quotes with photos across your website. Use links to longer stories that give more detail.
Then take another step and add videos. Today’s students are constantly viewing video, and they want to hear from other students like them. When asked about the type of videos they preferred to watch when researching colleges, “student testimonials” by far topped the list. Many would like to see a campus tour online, too, and here you can also include current students, in everyday action. Students also spoke clearly about what they don’t want to see: polished presentations, sample lectures, or videos of events.
Your website can be a powerful tool for building connections with prospective students and parents.
Are you delivering a first-rate experience?
Ruffalo Noel Levitz (2016). 2016 e-recruiting practices report for four-year and two-year institutions. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Retrieved from www.RuffaloNL.com/BenchmarkReports.
Ruffalo Noel Levitz (2015). 2015 high school students’ and parents’ perceptions of and preferences for communication with colleges. Cedar Rapids: Ruffalo Noel Levitz.