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Survey: Prospective Students Visit College Sites, Not Social Media, First

A survey by Maguire Associates and Fastweb.com has found that students on the hunt for a college or university turn to Web sites first. Seven out of 10 who responded said they go directly to college Web sites to find information about degree programs, costs, and admission application deadlines.

More than 4,300 high school seniors were questioned in April for the "2012 Annual College Decision Impact Survey" about what factors, such as social media and college Web sites, affect where they apply to school.

"As prospective students have more online resources to use, colleges and universities need more sophisticated online strategies for communicating with them at every touch point," said Kim Reid, vice president for research operations at Maguire Associates. "Success here rests on understanding how and when students use the Web and social media and then prioritizing institutional efforts to meet those needs. It's all part of a much larger digital strategy."

The survey also found that:

  • Students go to college Web sites, Web sites that aggregate information about colleges, and student review sites first;
  • Nine out of 10 students said they use Facebook and YouTube to find college information; and
  • Approximately half of those surveyed said they use third-party sites such as College Board and College Prowler.

The survey focused heavily on prospective students' use of social media for researching prospective colleges.

One-third of participants said they are virtually always on Facebook, and 39 percent said they go to YouTube on a daily basis. In addition, 65 percent reported they visit college Facebook pages for social life information, while 42 percent said they view them for events and news. Fifty percent of respondents reported visiting college Facebook pages for photos.

Other social media-related statistics from the survey include:

  • Seventy-five percent said they would like to get in touch with a current student on Facebook, and 10 percent indicated that they would use Facebook to contact a faculty member;
  • Sixty-six percent of participants reported using social media to look for scholarships;
  • Fifty-seven percent said they have viewed a college YouTube video; and
  • Forty-nine percent reported "friending" or "liking" a college's social networking platform.

For more information, visit maguireassoc.com or fastweb.com.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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