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The Most Used and Trusted Sources for Researching Colleges as Named by Prospective Students

Two reports[1] by Eduventures, the research division of The National Research Center for College and University AdmissionsTM, reveal wide gaps between how prospective students use social media to research colleges vs. how they use social media in general.

Although students do use social media to research colleges, they report that they use other sources more often, and also report that for college search, social media has not earned their trust.

Other data revealed a gap between social media platforms that colleges are likely to use, and those most used by prospective students. While colleges are known for using Facebook and Twitter for outreach or advertising, prospective students prefer YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram for general use. For researching colleges, however, YouTube and Instagram are in the lead.[2]

Since 57 percent of the respondents identified family and peers as influential sources of information about colleges in the Eduventures 2018 Student Sentiment Survey, it can’t hurt to reach out to the parental audience.[3] For colleges using Facebook and Twitter hoping to connect directly with prospective students, they should consider that 38 percent of respondents to the Eduventures 2019 Social Media report said that they never use Facebook, and 47 percent said they never use Twitter.[4] (More than 4,700 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors across the country participated in the survey.)

The most used social platform, specifically for college search, was YouTube. Of the respondents, 50 percent said they use YouTube once in a while to once a day, and 11 percent said they use it multiple times per day. Instagram trailed slightly, coming in at 47 percent and 10 percent respectively.[5] However, only 4 percent of respondents to the 2018 Student Sentiment Survey said they trust social media for college search.[6]

Last year we reported on which sources were named as the most used and useful by prospective students, with college websites leading both categories. This year, the question was altered. Instead, respondents were asked which sources were most used and trusted.

Highest ranking for both used and trusted was email messaging from the college, with word of mouth involving parents and peers coming in second. College websites fell into the third position, followed by postcards.[7] Social media fell to one of the lowest positions, with only 39 percent saying they used social media as a source for college research, and only 4 percent of respondents trusting it.



Eduventures cautions that colleges should neither overuse nor ignore social media as an enrollment marketing tool, and that messaging must be tailored to each audience. Additionally, colleges are encouraged to create an overall digital strategy, not just social.[8]

 

 

SOURCES:
[1]
Eduventures, the research division of The National Research Center for College and University AdmissionsTM, “Student Sentiment Survey, August 2018, Traditional Student Demand,” Eduventures Research in Depth Report (2018).
[2] Eduventures, the research division of The National Research Center for College and University AdmissionsTM, “Social Media Report, 2019,” Eduventures Insights (2019) p. 2.
[3] Eduventures, the research division of The National Research Center for College and University AdmissionsTM, “Student Sentiment Survey, August 2018, Traditional Student Demand,” Eduventures Research in Depth Report (2018) p. 5.
[4] Eduventures, the research division of The National Research Center for College and University AdmissionsTM, “Social Media Report, 2019,” Eduventures Insights (2019) p. 2.
[5] Eduventures, the research division of The National Research Center for College and University AdmissionsTM, “Social Media Report, 2019,” Eduventures Insights (2019) p. 2.
[6] Eduventures, the research division of The National Research Center for College and University AdmissionsTM, “Student Sentiment Survey, August 2018, Traditional Student Demand,” Eduventures Research in Depth Report (2018) p. 6.
[7] Eduventures, the research division of The National Research Center for College and University AdmissionsTM, “Student Sentiment Survey, August 2018, Traditional Student Demand,” Eduventures Research in Depth Report (2018) p. 15, 17.
[8] Eduventures, the research division of The National Research Center for College and University AdmissionsTM, “Social Media Report, 2019,” Eduventures Insights (2019) pp. 8-9.

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