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Report: Online College Students Choose a Program and Institution Before Applying

The average online college student contacts only a couple of schools during their selection process, and 62 percent select their program of study before choosing an institution, according to a new survey from The Learning House and Aslanian Market Research.

The fourth annual Online College Students report is based on a survey of 1,500 recent, current and prospective online students from across the country. According to The Learning House, the survey revealed the importance of brand awareness and the types of online programs offered to attract online students.

"Students consistently told us they considered transfer credits and affordability when choosing an institution," said Carol Aslanian, senior vice president of Aslanian Market Research and coauthor of the report, in a prepared statement. "Tailoring processes to meet these needs, and then developing messaging that speaks to those benefits, will be critical to the long-term success of institutions offering online degrees."

Key findings from the report:

  • Business administration, nursing, computer science and engineering and information technology are the four most popular online programs of study at both the undergraduate and graduate level;
  • 33 percent of online students surveyed said they made contact with only one institution, and only 11 percent of students said they made contact with five or more institutions;
  • 43 percent of students said they chose the Web site as the method of first contact, followed by email at 29 percent and phone at 28 percent;
  • 89 percent of surveyed students said an annual $2,500 scholarship would sway their choice of institution;
  • 40 percent of student respondents said they applied to an online program within four weeks of beginning their search;
  • 36 percent of students said affordable tuition was the most appealing marketing message, but 55 percent of students did not chose the most inexpensive institution; and
  • 62 percent of online students said they did not have a preference between for-profit and nonprofit colleges and universities.

The full Online College Students report is available for download from The Learning House site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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