What Does Research Say About Higher Education Web Sites?
We rely heavily on market research that has external validity and “generalizability”. It is through assessing this research, in addition to holding focus groups and evaluating Google Analytics and other data, that we stay abreast of Web site trends and evaluate our Web site accordingly.
A high-quality Web site is key to achieving our University goals. One in five students say they removed a school from consideration because of a bad experience on an institution’s Web site (Noel-Levitz, 2011). In terms of the undergraduate college search process, both students and parents serve as target audiences, as 59% of students report they are researching colleges with their parents (66% of parents agree) (Noel-Levitz, 2011).
What is the first thing undergraduate students and parents look for on a University Web site? According to research, here is the breakdown (Noel-Levitz, 2011):
1. Academic Programs (38% students, 42% parents).
2. Enrollment and Admissions Information (24% students, 21% parents)
3. Cost (8% students, 13% parents)
4. Scholarships and Financial Aid (7% students, 0% parents and 5% students, 10% parents, respectively)
5. Other information (student life, campus visit details, housing details, etc.)
Why are academic programs so important? Among students and parents combined, 62% see the main benefit of a college degree as a potentially better job / higher income and career training (Princeton Review, 2012). In terms of enrollment and admissions information, students and parents are interested in: Average SAT score ranges of its admitted freshmen last year (38% students, 38% parents); percent of applicants the college accepted last year (27% students, 16% parents); percent of undergraduates receiving financial aid (21% students, 22% parents); the school’s graduation rate (14% students, 24% parents) (Princeton Review, 2012). Why cost? The first thing undergraduate students and parents look for on a University Web site is not necessarily the factor that is most important to them, as 87% of students say that cost is one of the most important factors in choosing a college, and 57% of high school graduating seniors are interested in using net price calculators (Maguire Associates, 2011). Furthermore, 87% of students and parents say availability of need- or merit-based aid is one of most important factors in choosing a college (Maguire Associates, 2011).
However, the adult undergraduate and graduate Web site research varies from that of undergraduate students. Adult students are most concerned about cost (67% of adult students cited this as a very important factor in choosing a University), followed by flexibility of class scheduling/times (64%), location convenient to home or work (58%), faculty who are good teachers and mentors (54%), the ability to transfer in credits (49%), and online learning options (47%) (Stamats, 2009).
What does this mean for Eastern University? Most importantly, it means that we must keep a keen eye on research trends and our own visitors in order to enable our Web site constituents to find the information they are seeking with ease. As the Web is ever-changing, so are we.
We invite you to easily find what you are looking for on our Web site:
- Undergraduate Academic Programs: Majors and Minors
- Adult Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Programs and Degrees
- Financial Aid Calculator and information about affording Eastern
- Robust and growing selection of Online Courses, Online Programs and Blended Online Programs
- Locations throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, Central Pennsylvania, Washington DC and on five continents around the world