Mythbusting Admissions: What professionals know (and don’t know) about how teens research colleges


Mythbusting Admissions: What professionals know (and don’t know) about how teens research colleges

Dec 03, 2015By Michael Stoner

Based on what we read online and in the newspapers, and through personal observation, we all know about teens and their devices, don’t we? So we easily can imagine how they’d use them to conduct their college search.

But do we really know?

At mStoner, we weren’t sure what was myth and what was reality. And we were curious also about what admission and enrollment professionals knew about the behavior and preferences of teens during this important and fraught time in their lives. So we were delighted by the opportunity to collaborate with Chegg on a research project.

Each year, Chegg surveys thousands of teens about how they search for and select colleges. Some of this research focuses on what information sources they use, and which are important to them; what devices they use, and how; and what channels are the most useful and influential, and when.

Using similar questions to those Chegg asked teens, we developed a survey for admission and enrollment professionals to compare what they knew — and thought they knew — about what teens do.

As of today, you can find out what we learned: A white paper with analysis and detail about our findings is available. Get it now.

As far as we have been able to determine, no one has conducted research quite like this since 2009. Early that year, Abe Gruber sampled 200 prospective freshman students and 70 admission offices nationally for an MBA thesis that compared how teens used social media in assessing colleges and what admission officers believed they did. And in the Summer 2009 edition of The Journal of College Admission, an article on “Technology in Undergraduate Admission” focused on how 36 institutions were incorporating or planned to incorporate various kinds of technology in their recruiting practices.

Today, of course, online channels and social media are more important than ever. Tablets and smartphones are everywhere. We — and especially teens — spend a lot of time online. So it’s high time for a fresh look!

Gil Rogers, director of marketing and enrollment services at Chegg, and I presented some of these findings at ACT in July; Eric Hoover reported on that presentation for the Chronicle of Higher Education. We presented a different version at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education last month; here’s a handout of that presentation.

We also talked about the findings on a recent episode of Admissions Live, part of the Higher Ed Live network.

The white paper contains a nuanced look at some of our findings, plus many figures and comparisons between what teens reported and what admission professionals said they believed teens did. Get your copy now.

myth busting admissions

  • Michael Stoner Co-Founder and Co-Owner Was I born a skeptic or did I become one as I watched the hypestorm gather during the dotcom years, recede, and congeal once more as we come to terms with our online, social, mobile world? Whatever. I'm not much interested in cutting edge but what actually works for real people in the real world. Does that make me a bad person?