Student Satisfaction and University Family Engagement: Perceptions With Admissions

Julie BryantVice President for Student SuccessJune 20, 2024
Image of a father and son in front of a college building.
How do students and families perceive the admissions process?

This is the second in a series comparing student perceptions with the perceptions of university families.  The first article focused on satisfaction with financial aid and tuition value.  This one takes a closer look at the admissions experience. 

These results are based on nearly 140,000 students from the RNL Student Satisfaction Inventory across three academic years, and over 20,000 families who completed the CampusESP/RNL University Family Engagement Report. Both populations were asked a series of questions regarding their satisfaction level with a variety of items about the student experience.

A few demographics about the families:

  • 65% reported household incomes of $100,000 or greater.
  • 80% of parents responding were born between 1965-1980.
  • Two thirds of their students attend institutions with 10,000 or higher total enrollment.
  • Slightly over half of their students live on campus, 8% live at home.
  • 20% are families of first-generation college students.

Experience with admissions

The first impression that students and their families have of the college is through their experience with the admissions office. University families responded to this item:

Overall admissions and enrollment experience (Families of students)
  • Public institutions: 89%
  • Private institutions: 93%

Currently enrolled students, across class levels (so perhaps a bit removed from their enrollment experience), responded to three items related to the admission office.

Admissions staff are knowledgeable (Students)
  • Public institutions: 59%
  • Private institutions: 61%
Admissions counselors respond to prospective students’ unique needs and requests (Students)
  • Public institutions: 60%
  • Private institutions: 61%
Admissions counselors accurately portray the campus in their recruiting practices (Students)
  • Public institutions: 57%
  • Private institutions: 54%

Families have very high satisfaction with the admissions experience, perhaps because they are highly involved and very engaged with assisting their child through navigating the process. Certainly, students felt positive enough about the admissions interaction to choose their college, but if the institution was not their first choice, we know from other research that satisfaction levels in general are lower for students who are attending their second or third choice institution. 


Staying aware of student perceptions on admissions can help campuses to adjust their processes accordingly. If the students who did enroll reflect general dissatisfaction, it may be an indicator of a larger issue that may be impacting overall enrollment. These data also reflect the importance of relationship building with the families as well as the students since family members can have a strong influence on student decision making.

It is important to understand your own students’ satisfaction levels.  Contact me if you would like to learn more about conducting a satisfaction assessment at your campus. 

The next article in this series will focus on the students’ academic experience. 

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About the Author

Julie Bryant

Julie L. Bryant, vice president for student success at RNL, works directly with colleges and universities throughout North America in the area of satisfaction assessment. Julie is responsible for client service to more than 2,700 institutions...

Read more about Julie's experience and expertise

Reach Julie by e-mail at Julie.Bryant@RuffaloNL.com.

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