In today’s world, your school’s .edu website will almost undoubtedly be a prospective student’s first encounter with your institution (outside of word of mouth) in their college search. The student’s first step in the college search and admissions process is now one of casual browsing, so a strong first impression is essential. In this post, we will discuss 6 tips to give these casually-browsing students a good first impression of your institution in the hopes of them continuing with you further in the student lifecycle.
1. Make the basics clear and accessible. In this initial stage of the student lifecycle, prospective students are typically looking for basic facts and characteristics of the school in order to get a general impression and figure out what is right for them. If they cannot quickly find the information they are looking for (e.g. number of enrolled students, majors offered, campus environment), they will get bored and leave. Make your info easily accessible, or risk losing them in the first stage.
2. Don’t overwhelm them with information -- keep it short and clear. On average, students research 30 schools online. They are exposing themselves to a lot of information. In order to avoid bogging them down, keep it concise and bite-sized. The current generation of prospective students has a short attention span, so make sure you don’t lose them.
3. Be mobile-friendly. According to Ruffalo Noel Levitz, 40% of students use only their mobile phone to view college websites. 70% of high school juniors and seniors say that they have viewed a college website on a mobile device. If your website is not compatible with smartphones, the students will likely get frustrated and leave
4. Use Social Media. This makes your content even more accessible, as students can potentially happen upon it on their Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feeds. These students who were not actively seeking you can then be directed to your .edu site to learn more. Short “teaser” videos are one great way to do this.
5. Capture their attention/distinguish yourself. Prospects need to know what makes your college or university different from every other school they research. Students have a “spam filter” that you need to get through during their preliminary search by grabbing their attention. Incoming students need to believe in your brand. One way you can make yourself stand out and stay top-of-mind to these students is to engage them emotionally. By making them feel connected to your school, you will not only grab their attention in the first step, but make them more likely to proceed with you throughout student lifecycle. Help students see themselves at your school. (Video is a great way to do this.)
6. Include an obvious call to action. One great place for a call to action is at the end of a video on your .edu website. With a call to action, the prospective student is more likely to complete a step, furthering themselves along in the student lifecycle with you. Calls to action can include taking a virtual tour, scheduling a campus visit, or even submitting an application.
For more information on how to create a great first impression using a virtual campus experience, click here.