The online expectations of prospective college students and their parents

Ruffalo Noel Levitz

July 19, 2011

E-Expectations of students and parents
A summary of some key responses from parents and their college-bound children in the 2011 E-Expectations Report

How much influence do parents have over their children in the college search process? If they are involved in the search, how active are they in visiting college Web sites, social media, and other e-communications efforts?

The 2011 E-Expectations Report polled 1,000 college-bound high school seniors and 500 of their parents to answer these and many other questions. The results show that more than half of the time, parents are taking an active part alongside their children in the college search process.

When visiting a college Web site and deciding what to review, students and especially parents often look for academic program information first, with admissions information also being a common first destination. For approximately two-thirds of parents and students, they want to first know what programs of study are available and how to apply before diving into other information, including cost.

Video was also a much-used feature on college Web sites, with more than half of students and 43 percent of parents saying they had watched videos on college sites. While the numbers for looking at schools on YouTube were much lower (27 percent for students, 17 percent for parents), these findings show that video is popular with both student and parents.

Facebook is, not surprisingly, popular with students, but nearly half of all the parents in our survey said they had a Facebook account as well. Students were much more likely to view a college’s Facebook page, but still a significant number of parents reported viewing the Facebook page of a college. It was also by far the most popular social media application with both groups. Only a few said they had Twitter accounts, let alone followed college tweets, while three-quarters of parents and students said they never or only rarely read blog posts on college sites. For now, Facebook appears to be the dominant social media avenue for e-recruitment.

The 2011 report also dives into a number of other key topics: the importance of Web content, the popularity and usefulness of online net cost calculators, and the relevance and staying power of e-mail, among other topics. You can download the report at the Noel-Levitz Web site, and if you have any questions, leave a comment or e-mail us.

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