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Why Do Students Apply?

Lauren Cunningham |Oct 11, 2021

When showcasing your institution to prospective students, it is important to remember what matters most to them. The most influential factors students consider when selecting a college or university should be front and center in all of the messaging they see.

Read on to discover the seven key decision factors on the minds of aspiring college students, and what your institution can do to effectively market them to your best-fit prospects.

1. Affordability

The majority of high school juniors will eliminate colleges from their initial consideration list based on total published cost alone. More than 50% of students determine that schools with a starting price over $50,000 are too expensive before they even begin the process of determining their financial aid eligibility. In order to mitigate this, ensure that scholarship information is readily available and easy to find on your website and in your admissions materials. The earlier in the admission process students are made aware of financial aid options, the more likely they are to more seriously consider your institution as an option.

2. Availability of a Desired Program

Of course, higher education is supposed to prepare students for their career, so it makes sense that majors and programs offered play a large role in helping prospective students narrow down their college lists. Over half of students make their decision based on the academic programs at a college or university. Host school-specific virtual admissions events for students interested in business, STEM, liberal arts, and more to make sure all prospective students have easy access to the information they need.

3. Reputation/Academic Quality

In a similar vein to finding a school with the correct programs, prospective students also want to ensure that those programs are high-level. It is not enough just to offer a program, you must also show why your program is better than or unique from the same program at other institutions. Utilize social media to showcase any academic rankings or awards your college or university has earned, so that prospective students are aware of the strength of your school.

4. Career Outcomes/Job Opportunities

The ultimate goal of a college degree is to be able to secure a job, so make this information front and center to your prospective students. Using your alumni network is critical here, so ensure you have accurate data to share with prospective students on where your graduates end up. Consider highlighting some notable alumni in videos. Update your website to include information about your institution’s career advising department and other career development opportunities available to undergraduates.

5. Value of Education for Cost

The total value of a college education is not measured solely on academics, but also on experiences provided by your institution. This includes traditions, extracurriculars, volunteer and leadership opportunities across campus. This additional value can be captured and portrayed to prospective students through tools like a video viewbook that takes the time to highlight everything your students have access to, academic and otherwise.

6. Feeling of Fit

Not every student is a perfect fit for your college or university, and it is important to seek out and recruit those students who are most likely to thrive at your institution. The “feeling of fit” is hard to pin down, but is easier when prospective students have access to personal stories of current students. Consider implementing My Five Faves, a StudentBridge video vignette solution that follows students as they show off their top 5 favorite spots on campus, to give prospective students a chance to find a personal connection.

7. Proximity to Home

Though the idea of leaving home and going far away for college has long been glorified, in reality most students would rather stay close to home. In fact, 53% of high school juniors starting their college search say an institution in their hometown or within 150 miles from home would be ideal. While 18% still wanted to leave their region for college, it is important to focus significant resources on students who live relatively close to campus, since they are the most likely to be seriously considering your school.

For more virtual solutions and ideas that highlight the topics that prospective students are most interested in, contact StudentBridge today.

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