Maintain a Positive Digital Reputation
The survey revealed that institutions should take great care in having a positive digital reputation. In fact, 58 percent of students said online reviews were highly important in their school selection process, and 20 percent of students polled said online ratings and reviews were the online channel that most influenced their decision when picking a college or career school. Similarly, 38 percent of students first looked into certain schools because of word-of-mouth referrals.
Have Good Navigation
The most popular online channel when it comes to influencing a student’s decision is a school’s website, said the report. It is so powerful that a third of prospective students said improper website navigation alone turned them off of a prospective institution completely. When on a website, 56 percent of students said they looked primarily for information about the program in which they were interested.
Institutions should also be mindful of how easy they are to discover on search engines, revealed the survey. Search engines reign supreme when it comes to research, with 53 percent of students turning to search engines most often when researching schools. The key with connecting to students through search engines is to ensure that information and unique strengths on a an institution’s website are presented clearly, as 43 percent of surveyed students reported being most influenced to click on search results that included information most relevant to them.
Incorporate Social Media
The report also noted that social media plays a big role in the school selection process today as well. Of the students surveyed, 32 percent reported following colleges and career schools, including those they were interested in, on social media while making a decision. Facebook is still by far the most popular social network, with 62 percent of students most likely to follow schools on Facebook over any other channel. The second most popular social network is LinkedIn, with 13 percent of students. 52 percent of prospective students said that relevant information about their desired program were the most important posts a school could make, regardless of the social network.
Personal Still Matters
Despite the openness of a school’s website or social media channels, though, many prospective students still prefer to connect with schools on a more personal level, they said. The report reveals that 41 percent of students connected to schools through e-mailing directly. E-mail is also overwhelmingly the preferred method of contact for prospective students, with 75 percent saying they preferred to be contacted by a school via e-mail over social media, phone calls or text messages.
Digital Can’t Replace All
Furthermore, the report also emphasized that it is important that digital communications have not completely replaced the tried and true methods of face-to-face recruitment. On-campus visits remain the deciding factor for prospective students, with 31 percent of students citing their visit as their primary deciding factor in choosing a school.
For even more in-depth information, click here to see the full report.