Noel-Levitz Study Shows Colleges Employing a Wide Range of Recruitment Technologies to Connect With Prospective Students

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In an effort to keep up with the rising use of mobile devices by high school students, 39 percent of four-year public universities and 35 percent of four-year private colleges now have a Web site that is optimized for mobile browsing, according to the findings of a new study of electronic student recruitment practices in higher education just released by Noel-Levitz. The study was based on a national poll of undergraduate admissions officials at U.S. colleges and universities.

Mobile readiness and electronic recruiting in general are accelerating,” said Stephanie Geyer, an interactive marketing consultant for colleges and associate vice president for Noel-Levitz.

In an effort to keep up with the rising use of mobile devices by high school students, 39 percent of four-year public universities and 35 percent of four-year private colleges now have a Web site that is optimized for mobile browsing, according to the findings of a new study of electronic student recruitment practices in higher education just released by Noel-Levitz.

The study also found these figures are set to double within the next year, as at least half of those that are currently without mobile-optimized sites reported they were preparing to launch one by spring 2013. The study was based on a national poll of undergraduate admissions officials at U.S. colleges and universities conducted between March 21, 2012, and April 20, 2012.

To further gear up for mobile browsing, nearly two-thirds of four-year college and university respondents in the study reported also using QR codes to attract students to their sites. In addition, more than one-third of four-year public institution respondents and nearly one-quarter of four-year private institution respondents reported offering mobile apps.

“Mobile readiness and electronic recruiting in general are accelerating,” said Stephanie Geyer, an interactive marketing consultant for colleges and associate vice president for Noel-Levitz. “The study found that colleges and universities are embracing a wide range of technologies to facilitate relationship-building with their prospective students.”

In addition to the findings on mobile browsing, the study examined the frequency with which colleges and universities were using various types of social media. After Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, the next-most-popular social media in the rankings by respondents were FourSquare, Google+, and Pinterest.

More findings from the study:

  •     In contrast to four-year institutions, only seven percent of respondents from public, two-year colleges reported having a Web site that was optimized for mobile browsing. However, 41 percent of respondents from this sector reported they currently use QR codes, and 62 percent of respondents from this sector expected to have a mobile-optimized Web site within two years.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of four-year public institution respondents, 55 percent of four-year private institution respondents, and 41 percent of two-year public institution respondents reported launching their current institutional Web site within the last two years.
  • A typical prospective student now receives 12 bulk/blast e-mails from a four-year public institution, 18 from a four-year private institution, and four from a two-year public institution, based on the median response from each sector.
  • Compared to their public institution counterparts, private institution respondents reported conducting student searches via e-mail more frequently.
  • Nearly two-thirds of four-year institution respondents and more than 90 percent of two-year public institution respondents reported spending less than $25,000 to maintain admissions-specific content and services on their institution’s Web site.

Also included in the study are findings on Web site and social media staffing and parallel findings from a soon-to-be-released telephone survey of 2,000 prospective, college-bound high school students conducted this spring, such as:

  • Just over half (52 percent) of prospective students reported they had used a mobile phone or table to view a college or university Web site.
  • After Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, the next-most-popular social media in the rankings by prospective students were Google+, Tumblr, and StumbleUpon.

Direct contrasts also included:

  • Only about one-quarter of prospective students reported they use Twitter vs. half to three-quarters of campus-based poll respondents.
  • More than one-quarter of prospective students rated live chat events as an effective way to learn about a college’s academic program options, but most colleges do not offer live chats.
  • When comparing the effectiveness of printed brochures vs. Web sites as channels for sharing information about academic programs, prospective students rated the two almost evenly, while campus-based poll respondents gave higher marks to Web sites.

The campus-based study, titled 2012 E-Recruiting Practices and Trends at Four-Year and Two-Year Institutions, is the latest in a series of polls and surveys that Noel-Levitz has conducted since the late 1980s for the purpose of identifying effective recruitment practices. For a full copy of the study, including additional comparisons to prospective students’ preferences and behaviors, and an appendix with many additional findings such as preferred channels for communicating, admissions office use of cell phones and net price calculators, and the frequency of e-mailing parents, visit http://www.noellevitz.com/BenchmarkReports.

To receive a full copy of the parallel student study, 2012 E-Expectations Report, as soon as it is available, visit http://www.noellevitz.com/Subscribe and check the box for “new trend reports and white papers sent by e-mail.” In addition, Noel-Levitz consultants will present findings from both studies at the 2012 Noel-Levitz National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention to be held July 24-26, 2012, in Chicago, Illinois.

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Noel-Levitz is a nationally recognized higher education consulting firm that focuses on strategic planning for enrollment and student success. Each year, campus executives across the U.S. meet regularly with Noel-Levitz to accomplish their goals for student recruitment, marketing, student retention, and strategic enrollment management. Since 1973, Noel-Levitz has partnered with more than 2,700 colleges and universities throughout North America. The firm offers executive consulting, custom research and benchmark data, innovative tools and technologies, side-by-side plan development and execution, and resources for professional development.

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