The following blog is part of a three-part series, dissecting what we learned from an April survey to registered CollegeXpress users who are graduating high school in 2018, fresh from the college search journey and days away from final decision making. This first blog shares the power of CollegeXpress and the influence it had on these students’ searches. The second blog will focus on the college search process, including how students were searching, what influenced their search, and the impact of social media. Finally, the third installment will take a deep dive into feedback from students to colleges with regards to how they felt about the recruitment process—what they would’ve liked to have seen from schools or wished schools had done differently.
About the survey
The survey focused on students’ experiences using CollegeXpress, factors that went into their college search, and feedback to schools about the recruitment process. There were 13 questions posed, ranging from free-form entry, multiple choice, and check boxes (“select all that apply” questions). Students who responded to the survey were entered to win one of three $25 Amazon gift cards. The survey was open for two weeks and an overwhelming 1,700+ students responded.
The survey pool
Exactly 1,733 high school seniors participated in the survey. We matched 1,390 emails in our database, which gave us the following breakout of demographic/academic data:
Students listed as “Other” for gender include those who do not have gender listed in their profile. The average GPA was 3.36. Please note that the above data/graphs do not represent the entire survey pool, as we were only able to match 80% of respondents and did not ask for demographic/academic information as part of the survey.
Diving into CollegeXpress: What was your favorite college search site?
This question introduced 90 different websites, from the obscure (Reddit, Green Scholar, MyPlan) to the expected (College Board, Niche, Naviance). CollegeXpress comprised 26% of the response (the highest of all listed) with the next favorite site coming in at 12.4%. It’s important to note here that we look at the data through a lens of knowing this survey was completed by students who are registered on CollegeXpress and acknowledge results could be more exaggerated than if done by a third party. That said, percentages of the top 11 sites from respondents are listed as follows:
One of the surprising “sites” consistently mentioned falls within the 11.42% bar. That data represents “school websites”—not a specific site, per se—as the top place students were looking for information in their college search.
We know Generation Z are savvy researchers and can take in information and process it at the highest of levels. To do that, more than one site to help them research will be necessary to get them where they want to be. In cases where CollegeXpress truthfully wasn’t chosen as the first-choice site for a student, it was the most frequently listed site as the second favorite next to Big Future/College Board, Google searches, and the college websites themselves. For us, that second-place spot speaks volumes and in the best way possible, because this is where CollegeXpress shines and diverges from traditional college search sites.
We are focused on helping students find their fit and telling real stories about college life, the application process, and more, which allows us to be the perfect companion to any site a student might be using. This allows students to make well-rounded decisions, as they are not only armed with the specific data/numbers they need, but also have a “best friend” in the background wanting them to do well and helping them make the best decision for them.
When it came to how valuable websites were in the college search, more value was placed on CollegeXpress than other well-known college search sites, while Google searches and visiting college websites had a higher value for students. The college search is personal. As it should be.
Top choice schools
Eighty-three percent of students who listed CollegeXpress as their favorite website to use in their college search were accepted to their top choice school, and of all sites listed as a favorite, CollegeXpress had the highest propensity of students to have been accepted to their top choice school.
Based on top choice schools listed by students, controlled by the group of those who said CollegeXpress was their favorite site, 57% chose a public college or university and 36% chose private. The top 10 choice schools from this CollegeXpress graduating Class of 2018 were University of California (Davis, Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Barbara); University of Florida; Brigham Young University; Eastern Michigan University; University of Kentucky; The University of Texas at Austin; Liberty University; and New York University.
At the end of the day, CollegeXpress is here to help students find their fit, but also help college clients fill the top of their funnel. With over 600,000 students sent to clients last year, CollegeXpress expertly knows how to do just that. When we asked students if they requested information from their top choice school from CollegeXpress and compared that to those who got into their first choice, 80% of this group were accepted. We are quality and quantity when it comes to lead generation.
How users feel about CollegeXpress
Part of the survey asked respondents to give us their honest opinion of CollegeXpress. In between notes on ways to make the site better navigationally and content students would like to see, the feedback was incredibly positive. Here are a few of our favorite comments:
It made my college application processes so much easier. Might’ve been more helpful than my school guidance counselor.
I really like CollegeXpress, it is very informative, and when they recognize a college you may like, they openly offer to connect you with said school. Love It!
I want to express my gratitude to CollegeXpress because without the resources and splendidly organizational layouts, I can only imagine how stressful the college admissions process would have been. The expert advice on financial aid and choosing a major helped to ease my worries and gave me piece of mind to choose what I felt and knew in my heart and based on facts was the best thing for me.
I really like how honest your website and information is. It helps to get an accurate representation of the school.
Thank you, CollegeXpress! It was cool to have a website that both contacted colleges and found scholarships for you.
What makes the feedback above even better for us is knowing that we have clients who reap the benefits of the site. CollegeXpress truly cares about its users and wants each of them to find their college, love their college, and stay there until they graduate. (And if it doesn’t exactly work out, we are here for students on their transfer journey as well!).
To do that, we work hard to provide the most honest representation of schools from current students and staff through our content, work tirelessly to collect data every year from each school through Wintergreen Orchard House, and strive to make real connections between these prospects and the schools they are interested in. These survey results, in conjunction with data we receive from schools showing our reach into their enrolling classes, prove we are doing something right with this upcoming generation.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series, about factors influencing this group’s college search and trends to jump on to make sure you’re ready for the fall.