“Clearly, the world of higher education has recognized the value of offering prospective students both online and offline venues for communication,” said John Meagle, VP, Educational Marketing at TMP Worldwide, who oversaw the survey. “I'm quite confident that we'll see an increased reliance of colleges and universities on the Internet and its evolving technology to broaden the scope of their recruiting outreach and streamline the application process.”
Every institution surveyed maintains a website. TMP also found that nearly half of the college websites surveyed are updated daily. This is a significant change from 1999, when a similar proportion (48%) updated their sites only weekly. The number of pages offered has also jumped more than threefold - from an average of 71 pages in 1999 to 241 pages in 2000.
The most common features of sites include admissions applications (which jumped from 65% in 1999 to 88% in 2000), financial aid, the academic calendar and an overview of the school. Seven in ten university sites also offer course offerings, special events and a campus map. Thirty-four percent of survey respondents would like to add a virtual tour to their site.
One in ten colleges surveyed currently accept application fees directly through their website, more than double the percentage from 1999, and at least 16% plan to add this feature. Among advanced features offered by websites, Java scripting was most common, appearing in 47% of sites. Over a quarter of college websites also offer audio and video clips, while chat rooms, at only 12%, are still relatively rare.
For colleges and universities seeking to broaden their applicant pool, the Web has been a useful tool. Among those respondents who were able to judge their website's impact in this area, nearly half (48%) found that out of state enrollment had increased, up from a third in 1999. Similarly, those schools found that the website had enhanced international enrollment, with 38% measuring an increase.
While colleges and universities have rapidly increased their dependence on the Web for recruiting prospective students, the majority still relies on traditional means to drive traffic to their sites. Over 75% cited the school catalog, business cards, college guides and direct mail as means of promoting their sites, while fewer than one in five placed banner ads on college-related websites, and only 6% purchased banner ads on search engines.
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