Transferring between institutions can be complicated, so college websites play a crucial role in giving students the information they need to confidently navigate the transition. But what online resources and supports do transfer students need most? That’s what mStoner and the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students set out to discover during a year-long research project.
The result was a comprehensive transfer website strategy guide that details best practices and tools for creating and maintaining a transfer-friendly site that addresses students’ top concerns and paves the way for a smooth transition. While the guide provides you with everything you can do to create a top-notch transfer student site, this post will outline the top five mistakes to watch out for when creating a transfer student’s digital experience.
The admissions process isn’t a bad place to start when thinking about transfer students, but it’s important to note how these transfer students get to your institution. They do this through a variety of pathways:
The reality is, the transfer student lifecycle differs from the admissions lifecycle in that it looks more like this:
To Avoid Mistake #1: Your site should directly address the complete transfer transition.
As marketers and web designers, you know how important it is to get into the mindsets of your audiences. The best way to do this is to create personas. In this case, we created personas for two main groups: transfer students and advisors. Better understanding these two groups will allow you to create content that best serves them.
It’s crucial to give both potential transfer students and their advisors the content they need to make an informed transfer decision.
To Avoid Mistake #2: Prioritize essential transfer content, especially planning guides and degree/program maps.
Creating and sustaining a great transfer website requires ongoing feedback and support from multiple stakeholders across multiple institutions. Maintaining transfer information can quickly turn into a complex process. Involving all stakeholders at the outset of the project is essential in ensuring success.
Having a governance policy in place essentially boils down to deciding who gets to decide. If you’re looking for more information on how to organize your governance team, check out GatherContent’s RACI chart.
To Avoid Mistake #3: Involve a broad group of stakeholders in planning, designing, and testing your transfer site.
Over the years, traditional four-year institutions have improved greatly in making their websites user-friendly and student-centered. The only problem here is that they tend to only be friendly and centered around the traditional four-year undergrad student.
Watch out for these five main missteps:
To Avoid Mistake #4: Put your audience-first. Always.
Transfer student sites and pages don’t typically get the ongoing resources they need to be successful. There are often three scenarios we see in this regard.
To Avoid Mistake #5: Budget appropriate time, staff, and resources to long-term site monitoring and maintenance.
Are you looking for new ways to create a transfer student-centered web presence? Register and bring your questions to our next expert panel webinar. And be sure to download the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) strategy guide for more information.
This content was transcribed from the AMA Higher Ed presentation, Addressing Transfer Students’ Digital Needs by Voltaire Santos Miran and Janet Marling, Ph. D. It was edited for length and clarity.
Travis Koury Marketing Specialist As marketing specialist, Travis Koury shares mStoner’s thought leadership and service offerings across a multitude of channels. He thoughtfully applies digital marketing best practices to ensure higher education marketing and communication professionals can easily discover and access mStoner’s helpful resources, primary research, and on-demand content.