Eduventures® Student Sentiment Survey™ Examines the Communication Preferences of College-Bound High School Students

August 29, 2018

Data Highlights the New Communication Landscape of College Search

August 29, 2018


The National Research Center for College and University Admissions™ (NRCCUA®), an educational data science and research organization that was recently acquired by ACT®,​ ​today announced findings from its Eduventures’ Research division. Available in the Eduventures app on the Encoura™ Data Lab platform, the inaugural Student Sentiment Survey™ explores the key areas of college search behavior and communication preferences to help higher education enrollment officers create more effective outreach strategies. Designed as a compliment to Eduventures’ Prospective Student Survey™, which measures brand perceptions of college-bound high-school students, and the Survey of Admitted Students™, which examines the enrollment decision and helps traditional institutions improve yield, this latest survey answers one of the most burning questions facing enrollment offices today: Now that I’ve identified my prospective students and crafted my message, how do I get it out?

Key findings from the survey include:

Six Prospective Student Search Strategies that reinforce that students are not a homogeneous group, but rather they are individuals with unique preferences and behaviors. These include:

  • Let Me Talk to Someone (15%)
  • Don’t Find Me, I’ll Find You (25%)
  • Excuse Me, Do I Know You? (14%)
  • I Already Know You (16%)
  • Whatever You Say (17%)
  • Give Me All You Got (14%)

Analysis of the most used vs. most trusted marketing channels that highlights the influence of email (most used and trusted), social media (less used and very little-trusted), and third-party sources (often used and trusted).

The influence of search stage that illustrates how more than 80% of all students—sophomores, juniors, and seniors—actively engage in college search, their communication preferences change as their searches progress. In particular, it highlights the increased use of mobile for college search among younger students (39% of sophomores vs. 30% of seniors).

“As growth in the number of high school students has stalled in recent years, the composition of those students has evolved,” said Johanna Trovato, Senior Analyst and primary author of this study. “More first generation, underrepresented minority, and low income students are placing a wholly different set of pressures on recruiting efforts. Students are applying to nearly twice as many colleges and universities, on average, than they did a decade ago. In the zero-sum game of traditional undergraduate student recruitment, this creates an increasingly competitive landscape.”

As generations change and traditional undergraduate student recruiting becomes more complex, a “one-size-fits-all” marketing strategy is not sufficient. This report highlights an outreach strategy that will help institutions attract, engage, and convert best-fit students.

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