A recent article by The Chronicle of Higher Education discusses how America’s colleges and universities are starting to wake up to the fact that poor websites can actually cost them lots of money.
… most colleges have no idea just how much bad Web design can cost. Kafkaesque online forms and pages that nobody visits, for instance, can have disastrous effects: A quarter of prospective students decide not to apply to a college because of a bad experience on the college’s Web site.
By making it difficult for students and potential students to find key information about the institution, colleges and universities — much like businesses — are seeing potential candidates “bounce” in favor of organizations that do a better job of communicating. This has prompted higher ed institutions to start making some long overdue fixes, and they are already reaping some nice rewards.
An interesting example comes from Bethel University in Minnesota, where web analytics are playing a major role in the site redesign:
Mr. Vedders (director of Web services) is blunt about Bethel’s old Web site: It looked horrible. But more important, the site for the liberal-arts college, in St. Paul, made it difficult for prospective students to find information that would encourage them to apply.
Many private universities spend upward of $2,000 to recruit each student who enrolls, and their Web sites often form prospective students’ first impressions. The critical path leading from prospect to applicant to paying student is known as the “admissions funnel,” and Mr. Vedders’s goal is to optimize it.
This really nails it on the head, and is the driving motivation for why we created Career Coach. Career Coach is a web tool that sits on a college or university’s external website to help students easily discover careers of interest and see how those careers map to the educational programs that the institution offers. It’s a very simple concept based on the fact that students largely value higher ed for its ability to help them land a career that interests them and will make them money.
A good example of a college that has done a fantastic job of updating its website (and frequently received nice accolades for its work) comes from Montgomery County Community College in PA, who recently placed Career Coach on the site (see it in the lower right-hand corner).
How Does Career Coach Work?
To help students better understand careers and the college’s educational offerings Career Coach aggregates key occupation data (job descriptions and job titles), local earnings, job trends, and job postings and maps all this information to the college’s specific program or department. This speeds up how quickly a potential student will find a program that interests them and it provides them with the sort of key information they need to know before they enroll (e.g., how much can I make? Is this a good job? Am I actually interested in doing this?). Echoing the Chronicle article, this should improve the enrollment process and get students placed much faster and with far less pain on the part of both parties.
Career Coach – Not Just Another Career Services Tool
Career Coach is all about outreach. The tool exists to help enhance a college or university’s web presence by helping the community better understand jobs in the region and how those jobs relate to education. In this sense Career Coach isn’t just another tool that should be housed in the career services department.
If you would like to learn more about Career Coach and how it is being used, contact Rob Sentz (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 208.883.3500.