Admit or Die: Addressing Admission Decision Factors on Websites

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Debt burdens, the amenities "arms race," and technology are all changing the admissions landscape for colleges and universities. The annual cost of attending college at four-year institutions has risen three times faster than the rate of inflation. Many institutions are fighting harder than ever before for admissions growth.

Is your web site communicating the vital information for decision-making, and are you following usability practices that will lead to conversions?

This session will focus on:

Programs, rankings, location, and costs -- how the best .edu websites are presenting this information.
Content and features that help demonstrate the value of education at specific institutions.

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Admit or Die: Addressing Admission Decision Factors on Websites

  1. ADMIT OR DIE mStoner How colleges and universities can provide good information about decision factors on the web
  2. m @DougGapinski
  3. m Live tweets: #mStonerNow
  4. m #mStonerNow What are some of the best admissions sites or best admissions sections you’ve seen?
  5. m Get the deck by the end of the week via email and mStonerBlog.com
  6. m Understand & explore Narrow choices & apply Decide & accept Transition to being a student
  7. m Understand & explore Narrow choices & apply Decide & accept Transition to being a student
  8. m • Decision factors: talking about what matters most to your audience • 10 great examples of content that supports decision factors • Questions?
  9. DECISION FACTORS
  10. m
  11. m Decision factors, in order of most importance for Tier One Law Schools: Rankings Programs Location Cost Outcomes / jobs
  12. m Rankings Programs Location Cost Outcomes / jobs This order will look slightly different for every institution based on profile and competition.
  13. m Rankings Programs Location Cost Outcomes But, these are the things I’m calling primary decision factors because they are going to be a huge part of the decision for almost everyone.
  14. m #mStonerNow What are other decision factors that can influence the choice to attend a college or university?
  15. m Takeaways
  16. m Addressing primary decision factors . . . (rankings, programs, location, cost, outcomes) . . . needs to be part of your content strategy.
  17. m 2Your marketing needs to speak to the primary decision factors first.
  18. m For colleges and universities, the main site—or admissions microsite— needs provide easy-to-reach and compelling information for primary decision factors.
  19. m DECISION FACTOR: RANKINGS
  20. m https://www.baylor.edu/about/index.php?id=88794
  21. m https://www.baylor.edu/about/index.php?id=88794
  22. Highlights: • Facts & Figures is in the main navigation • Authoritative publication rankings are easily identified at the top • Individual department and program rankings are grouped in a single place https://www.baylor.edu/about/index.php?id=88794
  23. http://www.gatech.edu/about/facts-and-figures
  24. Highlights: • General information only; program rankings mostly located within school and college sections • Increasing diversity is a top goal and the entire third section of the page speaks to that http://www.gatech.edu/about/facts-and-figures
  25. m Rankings help students decide to attend. What you can do with your site: •Be transparent. Prospective students will find rankings no matter what. You can put the information in one place. •Acknowledge the publications that matter. •Rankings can be used to make a recruiting statement.
  26. m DECISION FACTOR: PROGRAMS (degrees, majors, minors, certificates)
  27. m Remember: earning a degree is expensive, time consuming, and impacts the rest of a person’s life. Program pages should never be an afterthought.
  28. m Here’s a program page from a state university that charges: $15,204 per year (in-state) $26,000 per year (out of state)
  29. • They didn’t bother to give each degree it’s own page • No information justifying the cost OR value of the degree is given • No next steps are provided Does this look like a $104,000 product to you?
  30. http://www.northpark.edu/Academics/Undergraduate-Studies/Majors/Biology
  31. Highlights: • The goal was to create the ultimate product page model for .edus • Gives reasons to study Biology in general for the casual browser • Shows content for high- ability students • Next steps and related programs are shown at the bottom http://www.northpark.edu/Academics/Undergraduate-Studies/Majors/Biology
  32. http://www.nait.ca/program_home_76755.htm
  33. Each degree has its own set of pages http://www.nait.ca/program_home_76755.htm
  34. Highlights: • Leads with data: will you graduate? What will you be making? How long does the degree take to complete? • Superb information architecture that respects the needs and next steps of a prospective student http://www.nait.ca/program_home_76755.htm
  35. m What to think about with your program pages: • Program (degree, major, minor, certificate) pages ARE the product for higher education! • Program pages should help justify the expense of an education. • Program pages should help someone understand what they can do with the degree. • These pages should be some of the richest and well- maintained pages on a college or university site.
  36. m DECISION FACTOR: LOCATION
  37. http://www.scad.edu/locations/atlanta/explore
  38. Highlights: • Pretty much covers all the bases for a prospective student • Facilities link includes residence halls and pictures • Links to events – get them to visit • The cities are already desirable for some – they went the extra mile http://www.scad.edu/locations/atlanta/explore
  39. https://www2.naz.edu/
  40. Highlights: • Transparency, even for facts that aren’t that appealing (like weather) • Covers what your off- campus options are • Covers travel distances https://www2.naz.edu/
  41. m Location helps students decide. What you can do: • Location is more than just a map. You must promote the setting; it’s part of the decision process for almost every student. • Transportation, living arrangements, shopping, and off-campus leisure are part of location that most prospectives will care about.
  42. DECISION FACTOR: COST
  43. https://college.harvard.edu/financial-aid
  44. https://college.harvard.edu/financial-aid
  45. Highlights: • Leads with powerful data • Follows with calls to action • Amazing responsive net price calculator • A page explaining types of aid page that is clear and concise https://college.harvard.edu/financial-aid
  46. http://www.bu.edu/finaid/
  47. m DECISION FACTOR: OUTCOMES / JOBS
  48. m #mStonerNow What are some outcomes that can demonstrate the value of a degree?
  49. http://www.kenyon.edu/
  50. An entire section devoted to outcomes http://www.kenyon.edu/
  51. Highlights: • Amazing demonstration of the value of a degree from Kenyon • Leads with data, follows with stories • Bonus round: first jobs in recent years! http://www.kenyon.edu/
  52. http://www.rider.edu/outcomes
  53. http://www.rider.edu/outcomes
  54. m Justifying the value of a degree is increasingly important. How can you help prospectives decide? • Jobs help demonstrate the value of a degree. • Use data AND storytelling, not one or the other. • Group outcomes by school or area of study – an music student has different goals than a business student.
  55. m Make sure you’re presenting these well: Rankings Programs Location Cost Outcomes / jobs
  56. m Questions?
  57. m Thanks! @DougGapinski mstonerblog.com

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