Adult students—including both degree-seeking (undergraduate and graduate) and certificate—are more likely to rank “cost information” at the top of their list when asked, what’s the most important piece of information they seek on a college or university website. This finding, among many others, is included in Stamats’ fifth annual Adult StudentsTALK™ study conducted last fall. Presented with a list of 15 information categories or pieces of information they might seek on a college website, prospective adult students were asked to rank order the top five most important. The overwhelming pick—rated a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 by more than 75% of respondents—was “cost information (tuition, fees).” That’s 33% more prospective students indicating a top-five rating for cost information than for the next closest piece of information—class schedules at 56%.

The top eight most important pieces of information, representing all types of students, include:

  • Cost information (tuition, fees) 56%
  • Class schedule (56%)
  • Specific academic program (52%)
  • Degree completion time (50%)
  • Admissions requirements (47%)
  • Financial aid, including loans (40%)
  • Credit for prior work or life experience (40%)
  • Transfer credit policy and process (32%)

NOTE: Percentages represent the proportion of respondents who ranked the information topic a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.

Essentially, these findings support what many of us might have guessed—that potential students are extremely interested in the nuts and bolts basics to best assess their options. It goes without saying that essentials such as these must be readily apparent on not only college and university websites, but also repeatedly presented and reinforced throughout all communication channels.

Job placement rates, tuition reimbursement with local employers, career information for graduates of the program, student-teacher ratio, contact information for a specific admissions counselor, comparative rankings, and stories about adults “like me” at college didn’t make students’ top-five list of significant influencers when choosing a school or program.

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