Study: Internet’s Role In College Hunting –

Findings from a national study released Tuesday determined current high school students are utilizing college web pages, as well as social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, to aid in their college search. Students were surveyed about their expectations of college websites, mobile use, e-mail, and social media.

According to the study, conducted by Noel-Levitz, OmniUpdate, CollegeWeekLive, and the National Research Center for College & University Admissions, more than 50% of students said the web played a significant role in their decision to apply for a school. Two-thirds of seniors and almost half of juniors checked campus websites every week. Sixty-nine percent said a school’s website is the best way to learn about an institution’s academic programs.

The overwhelming response from students is ease of navigation and value of content outweighs visual elements, with 75% favoring a website that is simple and easy to use. Additionally 82% visit websites to get facts about the school, and 74% think words are the most important part of a website.

The results highlight how important the web experience is for high school students in the college search process, and how that experience shapes their feelings about a particular institution. Forty-seven percent said when they have difficulty finding information on school’s website they are highly interested in attending, their opinion of the school diminishes.

Social networking for college recruitment expanded, with 46% of students having visited a college’s Facebook page, an increase from 27% in 2011. Twitter usage also increased to 27%, up from 9% in 2011.

Findings from a separate report released by Noel-Levitz that examines the popularity of social media, the web, and other electronic recruitment practices at colleges, showed that e-mail communication was the most popular practice for e-recruiting, slightly ahead of Facebook. Seven out of 10 students were interested in participating in live online chats with campuses, but less than 40% of 4-year colleges and 7% of 2-year colleges reported using live chats. Sixty percent of respondents were interested in receiving text from admission staffs, but a majority of campuses do not use texts as part of their recruiting process.

The study surveyed 2,000 American college-bound junior and high school students by phone.

Follow Valerie Jones on Twitter @ValerieJonesCMN