eduweb2008: High School Students Tell All

Dr. Pamela Kiecher, Head of Research & Issue Analytics
Bill Royall, President, Royall & Company

Results of survey in field with students last weekend -ps. I like this presenter right from the pre-intro!

Royall & Company: roots in direct marketing (mail, non-profits); first college client was in 1989.

5 minutes in and no content yet.

The Wealth of Stealth – The Lawlor Group 2008
“The stealth marketplace and its accompanying behaviors, particularly WOM recommendations, dmoinate the college consideration process.  An instituttion’s website, as well as other Internet resoruces and onlien social networks ar echanging the way prospective students search and learn abotu colleges and unviersities.”

Use of electronic/web based tools (by admissions officers as part of recruitment process:

  • see photo

The evolution of the web in college recruitment

  • Late 1994: Netscape Navigator is released to the public, this is the beginning of the popularization of  the web. (Presenter remembers having email type thing back in 1987, when I was 4)
  • 1994-1995: Common Application becomes available in floppy disk version
  • 1995:  embark is founded
  • 1996-1998: college and universities begin to establish informational websites.
  • 1997: established
  • 1997: Royall & Company’s online fast application is launched
  • 1998:, a service of Princeton Review goes online
  • 1998-1999: common application available online
  • 1999: established
  • 2000: Royall & Company’s equal program is launched (noticing Royall’s role in the foundations of online recruitment?  legit or hype?)
  • 2000: UNC system develops first of its kind prospective student portal (wish she had a screenshot)
  • 2001: College established
  • 2002: Rss and other means of syndicated info take hold
  • 2002: Friendster is launched (originally a dating service, developed by harvard students)
  • 2004: Another Royall development
  • 2004: Facebook and MySpace are launched
  • 2005: YouTube
  • 2006-2007: All members agree to accept common application online
  • 2007: Case Western reserve university runs tours of a digital replica of its campus in the virtual world of “Second Life”

??? Suggestion: Mobile?

University Research Partners (their research division): Students’ use of the web

  • College bound high school students view websites for information, they are not particularly interested in sites as sources of entertainment
  • functionality and ease of navigation are imperative
  • some students indicate that more than two or three clicks to find what they’re looking for makes them want to leave a site (now they have alternatives such as social networks)

Soruces used most frequently during college search:

  • 82% websites of colleges and universities
  • 63% itger stydebts.oeers
  • 51% letters from specific colleges
  • 42% emails from specific colleges
  • 36% brochures and/or viewbooks from specific colleges
  • 35% general internet search engines

Either the US is total Greek to Canada, or these numbers are WAY off what we are finding.

Website use

  • edu sites seen as more trustworthy than other sources, and are most used
  • high school students of different ages use websites for different reasons
  • shift away from edu websites to social networks (elaborate!!)
  • Sophomores and juniors use edu websites to develop their short list of potential schools
  • they want to know: can i get in, how much does it cost, does the school offer majors in my areas of interest?
  • Dads get particularly involved in the decision when it comes to financials, moms are filling out the applications – really?
  • Is there a link from your homepage to your alphabetical list of programs? This is best case scenario. Many schools bury programs within faculties within schools within colleges within campuses… impossible.
  • 60% of kids taht don’t apply say its because the school does not have the program they want – and 95% of the schools actually have the programs but students couldn’t find them

Seniors use websites to:

  • Make an informed decision on where to apply
  • Develop strong application
  • Make a final choice from among schools in their consideration set/where they are admitted

Finally, the survey from last weekend: (update on social networking and other web-based behaviors of prospect students)

  • From sample of 900 high school students, and 600 college students.
  • last year: 55% indicated they used social network sites like Facebook and MySpace (our numbers say 75% just on Facebook…)
  • Today: 84% of HS and 93% College

Have you ever visited one of these college or unviersity pages on social network sites?

  • HS 16.2%, College 43.6%
  • 94% of HS think its a good idea, and 83% of college think its a good idea (for schools to have their own pages on social networks) – higher than our numbers, but works to my advantage so let’s go with these numbers ;)
  • Some concerns about anonymity from teachers and counselors; in general they are very receptive to this idea.


  • Easy access to information abotu colleges and unviersities
  • would be communicating on the student’s level or in a medium that theyu already use a lot
  • there is heavy traffic on these sites from the target market of colleges and universities
  • it would make it easy for prospective students to contact current students

In your opinion what is the best source of information about colleges provided on social networking sites?

HS: 100% current students; 67.4% college or university officials; 51% former students/alumni; 0% other prospective students

College: 85.7% current students; 71.4% school officials; 57.1% former students/alumni; other prospective students 28.6%


  • more than 50% check email once a day; and want email from adult/official sources when it comes to serious things
  • average of 2 accounts each
  • email still has a role! more attentive to email when in “college search” mode

Key Insights

  • More andmroe students are  beginning their college search before schools are contacting them
  • web-based searches are most common, so your website is a critically important tool
  • your website may be inadvertently creating barriers for prospective students and driving them to social websites
  • Most students want more rather than less information (therefore customization actually cuts down the information and is bad, and scares them – instead let me have it all, and then let me decide)
  • Your current students are considered a great source of information
  • In almsot all cases, earlier contact with students is better for them and their families

Research you can do

  • Regularly review website use & page views to measure traffic
  • Personally navigate the website periodically, beginning with the homepage, and time hwo quickly you can find … (the application, specific major, tuition & feels, financial aid info, current student profiles)
  • Invite local high school students to your office and ask them to find the information most improtant to them on your website (assign an observer to take notes on what the student looked for)
  • Keep a record of the questions you get from students and parents who call or email you – they migh tbe contacting you because they couldn’t find what they wanted on your website!
  • check out your competitors’ presence on social networking sites; you may be able to borrow from others to develop your own plan (research says that social networks are going to be a dominant source of information for students)

College of New Jersey:  had posted a fb page, found 67% of students would prefer to get information about college events from the fb page, not the edu site.

How do students go about making that first list of schools they are considering.  Influenced by counselors, but counselors are looking at the websites (did you hear about friends, search engines and bossy parents)? White Paper on what influences school choice

The paper is the only way to get parents into the process … but how soon will they be just as esavvy as the students?

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *