While college alumni love their school's game day Facebook photos and posts about events and traditions, prospective enrollees want more informative social media content that will help them to decide which higher ed institution is right for them, how to enroll, and how to excel while completing their degree.
According to the 2012 Social Admissions Report, approximately two-thirds of high school students now use social media to research colleges and enrollment. The report, which polled 7,000 students in August 2012, was conducted by Zinch, an online scholarship and school-matching service run by Chegg, and Inigral, a tech company that focuses on student engagement online.
The poll revealed that 72% of rising high school seniors have already researched prospective colleges on a social media site, and that 71% have done that research using their mobile device. Facebook remains the top way to reach potential students with 88% using Facebook and 53% accessing the social media site multiple times a day. YouTube and Twitter follow second and third with other popular social media venues trailing distantly.
Discontent with Prospective Student Content
While the percentage of prospective students using social media to make college comparisons is growing, only 40% of those who visited a college or university's social media presence found the information useful or relevant. Said students polled in the survey:
"I would like to see an advice column or an FAQ section where common 'worry' questions can be answered to help ease the tension upon arriving to college or while attending college."
"I really like when I came across tips about enrollment and what not to do."
"I would like to be able to ask a question and really have a response to it, and not just an administrator telling me to look at the blah blah tab on their website."
Gil Rogers, director of College Outreach for Zinch, told Inside Higher Ed that universities should look at the results from the student survey and perhaps reconsider their social media strategy to focus more on information and engagement for prospective students. In a Noel-Levitz 2012 E-Expectations Report, students researching higher ed institutions ranked the content they valued most in the following order:
2. Cost/Financial Aid
3. Admissions Process
4. Campus Visit
5. Campus Life
In addition, respondents noted that the following content was what they expected to find after liking a college's Facebook page:
- Information about admission deadlines and events (36%)
- Information about academic programs (34%)
- Updates through the news feed (30%)
- Special information unavailable elsewhere (26%)
- Interaction with page administrators (26%)
- Contact from school about admission (26%)
- Photos and videos (25%)
- Interaction with other people who like the page (21%)
- Specific information tailored to the user's profile (18%)
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