Recruitment | Research

Report Students Turn to Mobile for College Research

More than two-thirds, 68 percent, of college-bound high school students have visited a college Web site on a mobile device, according to the 2013 E-Expectations Report: The Impact of Mobile Browsing on the College Search Process.

Of the 2,000 students surveyed, three-quarters said they had access to a mobile device and 43 percent said "they go online almost exclusively using their mobile devices," according to a news release about the report. "Half" of the students who responded said they "preferred to have college Web sites adapt to mobile displays, while 73 percent expressed interest in institutions offering campus-specific mobile applications."

Despite that willingness to research colleges online, however, 82 percent reported a preference for looking at college sites on a PC or laptop.

"At first glance, this finding may seem to downplay the importance of mobile optimization, but in reality, I think it makes its importance more apparent," said Stephanie Geyer, associate vice president at Noel-Levitz, in a prepared statement. "Students may be using desktops and laptops because they cannot do what they want to do during the college search process on their phones and tablets. As campuses optimize for mobile — not just in terms of design, but content and functionality as well—I think you will see the majority of students in the coming years conducting their searches and even applying for college via mobile devices."

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Nearly half of the students interviewed said they had submitted requests for information to colleges from a mobile device, two-thirds said they'd be willing to submit forms for scheduling visits, open house regisration, or to receive cost calculations, and 50 percent said they would submit an application from a mobile device;
  • Ninety-eight percent of respondents said they would open an email from a college on their list and 68 percent said they'd open email from a college they didn't know;
  • Forty-seven percent of survey participants said they check email on their mobile device at least once per week;
  • While 65 percent of respondents said they'd be willing to receive text messages from colleges, only 16 percent said they had;
  • Reported Facebook use fell from 79 percent in the 2012 report to 67 percent in this year's; and
  • Twitter was the second most commonly used social networking tool according to students who responded, but they only reported using it for college research at a 28 percent clip.

"It's clear from these findings that many prospective college students have turned to their smartphones and tablets during the research process," said Geyer, in a prepared statement. "These numbers are certainly going to grow, which means that campuses need to optimize for the mobile experience, not just on their Web sites, but e-mail, social media, and other electronic communications."

In addition to Noel-Levitz, the National Research Center for College & University Admissions (NRCCUA), OmniUpdate, and CollegeWeekLive contributed to the report.

To view the full report, visit noellevitz.com.

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