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Prospective College Students Receptive to Electronic Social Networking Recruitment Methods, Survey Finds

Prospective College Students Receptive to Electronic Social Networking Recruitment Methods, Survey Finds

In the era of, and instant messaging, prospective college students are open to admissions recruitment methods that rely on social networking technology, according to the “E-Expectations” report. The organizations sponsoring the report are the consulting firm Noel-Levitz, the recruiting firm James Tower and the National Research Center for College and University Admissions, a nonprofit research organization.

Formally titled “Engaging the Social Networking Generation,” the 2006 study of 1,000 college-bound high school juniors reported on the new ways that colleges and universities are trying to communicate with prospective students. The study is an overview of findings on the changing face of e-recruitment. This report, the second annual “E-Expectations” study, reveals that 43 percent of college-bound students have already created a profile on a college or university Web site, not unlike those found on Facebook and MySpace.

Of those students who hadn’t yet created such a site, 46 percent indicated they would like to do so.

“From blogs to MySpace pages to podcasts, today’s college-bound students are using technology to engage in a host of social networking activities that build communities,” says Kevin W. Crockett, the president and CEO of Noel-Levitz. “Having this data provides a clearer indication of students’ preferences for electronic communication and e-recruitment.”

The study also found that 63 percent of respondents said they would read a blog authored by a faculty member as a way to seek more information about students and faculty at a particular institution. While only 9 percent said they had participated in an online chat on a school Web site, 51 percent said they would if they could. Also, 9 percent of prospective students indicated that they had downloaded a podcast from a college or university, but 54 percent said they would if they had the opportunity.

Students are open to multiple communication avenues, the report suggests. Respondents were fairly evenly split in their preferences of printed college brochures versus Web sites. Fifty-six percent said they preferred Web to print, while 44 percent said they preferred reading brochures. Sixty-four percent revealed they would like to obtain college information in the mail compared to 36 percent who stated a preference for e-mail. That means that while schools may want to go entirely paperless and send all communications via e-mail or some other electronic means, paper still has a role to play in outreach and recruitment efforts.

While e-mail and the Internet remain the baseline for e-recruitment efforts, the survey showed that students also increasingly use technologies such as instant messaging and cell phones. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they own a cell phone, and 64 percent said they use instant messaging.

Roughly 82 percent of prospective college students indicated that they would consider reading or responding to an instant message from a college representative. Seventy-one percent said they would consider sending an instant message to a college representative using an institution’s Web site, and 59 percent said they would consider taking a cell phone call from a representative.

“As cell phone technology continues to advance rapidly and offer students an increasing number of communication options — from Web browsing to e-mail to text messaging to phone calls — colleges and universities need to be ready to explore the use of these technologies in their recruitment efforts sooner rather than later,” Crockett says.

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