A First Look at What Teens Told Us About Your Enrollment Marketingby Michael Stoner
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 2 minutes
True or False?
- Teens’ opinions of your institution are much more heavily influenced by online sources (websites, social media) than in-person sources.
- Because teens don’t use email, it’s better to text a prospective applicant than to send them email.
If you answered “false” to both, you have your fingers on the pulse of today’s teens who are researching and applying to colleges.
At least that’s what they told us in their responses to our 2017 “Mythbusting Enrollment Marketing” survey, designed to elicit their responses about a range of tactics colleges use to reach them during their college search and selection.
Let’s take a look at both questions more closely.
In general, teens do engage heavily in online research throughout their college search and choice. In fact, 62 percent say a website is highly influential in their view of a college.
What’s more important than the website? One thing: Seventy-eight percent say a campus visit/ tour. But here are other responses*:
- 50 percent selected “school visit from a college representative.”
- 41 percent said “phone calls with an admissions officer.”
- 22 percent selected “the college’s official social media accounts.”
* Teens had the option of selecting from 11 choices and ranking each option on a scale from one to five (highest). Percentages indicate those who selected a four or five.
As we observed in our 2015 “Mythbusting Admissions” study, how teens interact with their friends isn’t necessarily an indicator of how they want to interact with adults — or college admission representatives.
While teens much prefer to text, Snap, or message their friends, it appears that they still recognize the utility of email.
When asked, “How would you prefer to hear from the colleges to which you are considering applying during each phase of the admission process?” a sizable majority of teen respondents chose email over every other choice offered (direct mail, text message, social media, phone or in-person).
And when asked how they would like an admission officer from a “college that really interests you” to be in touch:
- 90 percent said through email.
- 87 percent said through a letter.
- 80 percent said through a phone call!
These are among the interesting findings that are emerging from the data in this year’s survey, which follows two previous studies:
- In 2016’s “Mythbusting Websites” survey, we asked teens a range of questions related to their reaction to and use of higher ed websites in their college research and choice.
- In 2015, “Mythbusting Admissions” explored their responses to a range of topics related to college admissions.
In those studies, and our current Mythbusting research, we administered an identical survey to higher ed enrollment, digital, and marketing professionals to find out what they know (or think they know) about what teens want. We then compared the professionals’ responses to what teens told us.
Surprises to come!
This year, as in previous years, we found many surprises lurking in the data. One of them, hinted at above, is that teens actually do value in-person contacts — at college fairs and on campus, as well as in one-on-one interactions through phone calls and online channels. This is true throughout the entire admission process.
We asked students questions about:
- Whether they received texts from colleges and, if they did, how they responded to those texts and what kinds of texts they would like to receive.
- How they use social media during the admission journey.
- How they respond to various kinds of advertisements, including online ad retargeting and environmental ads.
- What online sources and college ranking sites are most important during their research and decision-making.
We’re parsing the wealth of additional insights from this year’s research in preparation for a presentation at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in November. We’ll release the official white paper about the research in December.
If you’re at the Symposium, please join us for our session. You can also sign up to be among the first to be notified when our white paper is ready for download.