Cappex recently conducted a national survey of 260 counselors about what colleges should provide to make the process easier for them and their students, and how and when they should contact counselors.
How can colleges make the process easier?
Address the money aspect.
The most critical need identified by counselors is centered on financial information. In the current economic climate, money trumps all. Among the top answers to the survey: 65% of counselors surveyed wanted more clear financial information on colleges’ websites. 52% wanted easier access to merit aid information, and 47% wanted more clear tuition information.
This is not surprising because in a student survey conducted by Cappex last January, students indicated financial aid, scholarships and tuition were at the top of their lists, too.
The implication is that, on colleges’ websites, they should make financial information a priority, easy to find and easy to digest – that is once they have first communicated their college’s point of difference or “brand” identity.
Improve navigation and prioritize.
Slightly lower down the priority scale, counselors indicated a need for easier to navigate websites. With the depth of information and the different audiences that college websites need to accommodate, it all comes down to prioritizing the information. Are the majority of the visitors finding what they need with just a few clicks?
Some other key priorities mentioned were easier access to application deadlines and prospective student event calendars. These milestones can be very important for planning a college search curriculum and helping students focus their time.
Also mentioned was easier access to information about majors. Many students search for colleges by major, so colleges should consider having a search-by-major keyword capability on their home pages.
A challenge remains the ability to have both depth and breadth of information and easy navigation, and there will always have to be tradeoffs.
More details from the study can be found here.