The #1 Reason High School Students Search Your Website (And the Closely Related Reason #2)


If you’re wondering which part of your website to prioritize for updates, it makes sense to think about what prospective students will be looking for, right?

Sure, high school juniors and seniors are searching your academic programs/degrees (was that your guess?)—that’s a close third. But, according to the 2018 E-Expectations Trend Report, the #1 thing they’re looking for is cost/tuition information (88% seniors, 82% juniors). Next on the list is scholarship opportunities (72% seniors, 77% juniors).

Since your cost page and your scholarships page are so important, we’ve summarized some tips for maximizing this space.

  • Make the information easy to find. If it takes students more than a few swipes to get to the information they want, you may lose them. And will a search on your site (or a Google search) land them at the information you want them to see first?

  • Make the page design compelling. In our Top Five Web Design Trends last year, we noted the importance of “Beyond the Home Page.” (Remember, they may be skipping your home page.) This trend is increasingly important, and your cost/financial page may be the single most important application for this principle, considering its importance for prospects. Does the photography on that page sell your school? Are the design elements as engaging as your home page?

  • Show them your school is worth the cost. Rather than leading with a chart of financial numbers, showcase your value. This is a great time to highlight recognitions you’ve been awarded related to cost/value. If you have comparison data that makes your school a favorable choice compared to other schools, include that here. Feature testimonials, job placement rates, and impressive salary statistics of your graduates. (You still need to show the tuition/cost numbers, and make sure the information is clear and visible—just don’t make that the focal point.)

  • Show them that higher education is worth the cost. For many prospective students, the first question is whether or not to invest in (or go into debt for) a college education. In the Gen Z world, the importance of college is directly connected to the potential outcome (more about that here).

  • Prioritize the net cost calculator. The E-Expectations report found that cost calculators are one of the most influential resources for prospective students, right up there with the importance of your website itself. Be sure your calculator is easily accessible and user-friendly.

  • Clearly direct them to scholarship/aid information. If they didn’t go there first, that’s where they want to go next. Organize the information clearly and simplify the list by using links for special-interest categories.

Most importantly, create opportunities for personal connection. Your website may be an entry point that motivates them to meet you in person!


Ruffalo Noel Levitz & OmniUpdate. (2018). 2018 E-expectations report. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Available at