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Snapshot: Functionality Preferences for Admissions Portals

Eduventures asked survey participants (5,500 high school seniors and incoming college freshmen), "When searching a college Web site, how important is it to you to have the following functionality?" and instructed students to rate each type of function on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "not at all important" and 5 being "very important."

The following hierarchy of Web functionality, in the context of admissions Web sites, emerges:

First Tier: Virtual tours, sign in for prospective students, interactivity;
Second Tier: Video of campus and Flash video presentations.

Source: Eduventures' report, Maximizing the Effectiveness of the Admissions Web Site, October 2007

Some of the more innovative Web functions that allow for college-sponsored student-run blogs or live online chats, for example, rate near the bottom of the list of desired functionalities. This finding can be read one of two ways: On the one hand, the low rating may reflect relatively low availability of such functions on current admissions sites, supporting the notion that it is difficult for students to cite a function as appealing if they are relatively unfamiliar with it. An alternative interpretation would posit that while blogs and blogging have gained prominence outside the educational context, there is something qualitatively different about the college admissions context that makes such a forum less attractive to students.

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