Senior year of high school is marked with a lot of really exciting moments -- homecoming, prom, graduation, and of course, deciding which college to attend in the Fall. And to make sure the excitement doesn’t waver during the time in between getting the acceptance letter and making a decision, schools put a lot of effort into creating a bond with accepted students with websites designed just for them.
With the National Candidates Reply Date upon us, the time is now for for admitted students to put their money on the table. Final decisions must be made and enrollment deposits must be sent on May 1. Luckily, colleges have been finding creative ways to make accepted students feel like their decision is an easy one.
Why Admitted Student Sites Are Great
Accepted student websites serve a number of important purposes for both prospective students and schools. Besides acting as a library of important information, dates, forms, and next steps toward matriculation, admitted student sites play an important role in the squishy, emotional stuff that is key to the decision making process. They can:
- Make accepted students feel special
- Get accepted students excited about their admission to the school
- Get rid of any lingering doubts a prospective student might have about making their final decision
- Confirm your school is the right school in which to enroll
- Keep enrolled students engaged until they matriculate in the fall
We found three schools who are doing this really well on their admitted student websites. Not only do they maintain focus on driving prospects to choose them and commit with an enrollment deposit, but they also create excitement from the get-go without compromising clear calls to action, pertinent information, and next steps. It’s also worth noting that they are all responsive design sites, making it easy for admitted students to get the information they need on a mobile device.
- Bucknell University hits all the right notes with their site. Out of the gate they build excitement, communicate ways to get to know them better, highlight important dates, and create community via social networking.
- Loyola University Maryland makes things incredibly easy and organized for admitted students by showing a clear call to action and offering a very handy checklist that helps cover all the bases, from what to do after acceptance to what to do before and after Summer Orientation.
- University of Puget Sound is right on target when it comes to helping students make their enrollment decision with a great video featuring current students sharing how they made their decision and what advice they would give to deciding students. They also do a great job of building excitement about Tacoma and all of its amenities through a beautifully shot video.
Features Admitted Student Sites Should Have
As shown in the sites above, there are a number of key features an admitted student website should have in order to keep prospects engaged and excited, and drive them toward enrolling...hopefully long before the May 1 deadline.
Ultimately the purpose of an admitted student site is to drive an enrollment decision and deposit, so deadline and payment details are priority when it comes to messaging. But, other logistical information like a calendar of decision, due, and other important dates as well as paperwork and forms are important too. Wabash College has a countdown clock front and center on their site along with a clear call to action so admitted students know exactly how much time they have left to send their enrollment deposit.
Clear Audience Pathways
Not all students take the same pathway to your school. While incoming freshmen get a lot of attention, it’s important to remember other groups of students need plenty of TLC as well. Colorado State University’s admitted student website offers clear audience pathways for all students, including freshman, transfer, and international admits.
The checklist for international students can be more complicated when you factor in student visas, passports, and other requirements that are unique to them. Make sure your site does a good job of clearly laying out what international students need to do to ensure a smooth transition from enrollment to matriculation.
We hear it a lot from our higher education clients -- campus visits are a driver for applications from prospective students. But they’re also a driver for admitted students making their enrollment decision. That’s why your admitted student website should highlight opportunities for experiencing campus life and engaging with the campus community, including professors and department heads.
Stanford University sets a great example for other admitted student websites by prominently featuring their admit weekend, as well as events for students unable to attend, and offering multiple ways to connect with various members of the community including current students and faculty.
Another unique way schools like Trinity College keep admitted students engaged and excited through matriculation is by offering a weekly giveaway of school swag. By allowing daily entries, they encourage incoming freshmen to visit their site daily and keep regular interactions until they arrive on campus in the Fall.
While there a many different ways to reassure a yes decision from an admitted student, video is particularly effective. Dartmouth College’s admitted students website includes a video featuring six students sharing why they chose the school and what they love about it. They hit on a number of the key factors that play into the enrollment decision in a clear and compelling way.
Video is also a great way to build excitement among accepted students. Caltech does a nice job of welcoming prospects by having current students deliver congratulations in a short and sweet video message.
Easy Social Networking
Incoming freshman are socializing through digital means more than ever before, so make sure you’re giving them a way to share their excitement about being accepted to your school. If you’re not giving admitted students a hashtag to tweet on, you’re missing a big opportunity.
Connecticut College makes it easy for prospects to show how pumped they are with a twitter plug-in front and center, as well as a special Facebook cover photo with the hashtag #ConnSaidYes that they can show off on their Facebook page. They’re also on top of getting accepted students to interact with each other by showing ways to connect across social networks. Which brings us to...
Getting admitted students familiar with their cohort is important to building a feeling of community and belonging. Lafayette College does a great job of this with their “Meet Your Future Classmates” page. By profiling students who have already made their enrollment decision and having them explain why they chose the school, prospects not only get to know members of the incoming class but may also be helped in making their decision to attend the school too. University of Richmond does a nice job painting a picture of who admitted students are, from their achievements in high school to SAT scores and geographical diversity.
Roger Williams University has a particularly creative way of introducing admitted students to the school with “The #ROGERTHAT Quiz.” Not only do they do a great job of profiling different student personalities from across the school, but they’re also incorporate social media sharing well.
The Right Tone
Of course your admitted student website needs to communicate some really important information, but your tone doesn’t have to be stuffy while doing it. You’re trying to build excitement and get accepted students pumped for their college experience. Lawrence University nails it with a tone that is spot on.
What Admitted Student Sites Are Missing
Personalization goes a long way toward driving action and conversion, but many schools have yet to incorporate it into their admitted student websites. There are a ton of ways to integrate personalization, from offering a site experience that is unique to each user, creating a personalized digital welcome packet for each enrolled student, or amping up your creativity like Iowa State University with a personalized congratulatory message.
Above all, your admitted student website needs to communicate excitement and offer ways to connect with the campus community while managing the logistical details of enrollment. Put your best foot forward by incorporating the key features listed above and you’ll make the decision easy for accepted students.