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College-bound High School Students Focus on Prospective Institutions‘ Facebook Pages

February 15, 2012

The internet has become the main tool for researching colleges over the last ten years, and the technology used to access it has changed drastically during that time. Today in 2012, according to a recent survey on mobile browsing behaviors and expectations from Noel Levitz, 52 percent of college-bound high school students have used their cell phone to view a school's website. As results show only 4 percent use a tablet such as the iPad, Noel-Levitz suggests institutions hold off on building an app for their school and instead optimize their website for smaller displays and mobile versions. The survey offers, "Seventy percent of respondents said they were happy to browse a school's mobile site through their device browser, rather than downloading a mobile app specific to that school."

What information is in demand?

Survey results from nearly 2,300 college-bound high school seniors show that extremely valuable content for mobile viewing of a school's website include: academic program listing; cost/scholarship calculations; calendar of critical dates; academic program details; summary of application process; and online application forms. Content that was rated as somewhat valuable included: instructions on scheduling campus visits; forms to receive more information; interactive campus maps; tours of residence hall facilities; videos on student life; information on academics and alumni; live phone/instant message communications with admissions representatives; and links to the institutions' Facebook and Twitter pages.

Facebook status

College-bound high schools students are visiting the Facebook pages of the colleges and universities they are considering attending. The good news for Institutions is that 46 percent of students who have looked at an institution's Facebook page have visited it more than once. According to the data, 30 percent of students reported that they visited the Institution's Facebook page a few times a month, 11 percent said a few times per week, and 5 percent said that they visited the school's Facebook page every day.

When asked how valuable the Facebook experience was, 32 percent of students said "somewhat valuable" or "extremely valuable," 23 percent reported it was a "waste of time" or "not very valuable," while a majority of students (44 percent) said their experience was "somewhere in the middle."

Final Recommendations

One recommendation from the report is that institutions improve the user experience on Facebook by "keeping content fresh and relevant." Also, when considering website users and mobile versions of the website, institutions must remember that there are many platforms that mobile devices use so be sure to test for content flow, and identify any compatibility issues with images, videos , etc.

Copies of the report can be downloaded here.


Natalie Pullaro Davis
Manager, Research and Policy Analysis