Every year, students commit to colleges and universities in the spring. Then, sometime during the summer, many of them get lost and fail to show up in the fall. According to some statistics, as much as 40% of students who commit in the spring don’t matriculate in the fall! This risk is highest for low-income and first-generation students.
So, why don’t they show up? There are various possibilities, but have you ever considered that maybe your website actually makes it difficult for students to enroll? If you make it easier for students to know what to do after they get their acceptance letter, you may see less melt.
How your web content may be increasing summer melt
When students have questions about their college process, they look for the answers online. A quick glance through keyword trends shows a huge volume of searches related to financial aid, FAFSA, college admission, and more.
These students are looking for answers in two places: Google and your university’s website.
If I’m a college student and I’m wondering what the deadline is for on-campus housing sign-ups, I’ll probably check the university website. If I can’t find what I’m looking for, then I’ll perform a Google or internal site search. Is that information easy to find? Does it even exist on your website? Does your website have a list of clear, actionable next steps for accepted freshmen to take? Can students easily find contact information for someone they can talk to, or are they struggling to get in touch with the right person?
Many of the students who disappear during the summer melt are asking similar questions: they are confused about financial aid processes, they don’t know what to do after they commit, and they don’t have an advisor they can turn to.
So they turn to your website. Is your website ready?
Using web content to mitigate summer melt
The key to writing web content that reduces summer melt is understanding your audience. You want to write content that helps these students solve their problems. But first, you need to understand what those problems are.
Luckily, there are plenty of free resources available that can help you understand why some students are not showing up in the fall. Make an outline of every step an incoming student needs to take before their first class. Talk to your admission counselors about common questions they get from incoming students. Examine Google search data and Google Analytics for your site to identify potential SEO keywords and questions that your website’s visitors are using.
Next, craft content for your website that answers these questions. Make it clear, concise, and easy to find. That means utilizing keywords that will show up in both internal site search and Google.
Be sure to include contact information that students can utilize if they are still confused. You can even set up goal tracking in Google Analytics to see if users are doing what you want them to when visiting your website.
In short, you want to make it easy for these students to solve their problems on their own. Be the resource they are seeking.
Reach out with web personalization
Some case studies indicate that a more personalized approach to reducing summer melt can help keep students on track and proactive about signing up for important events like summer orientation.
With advanced analytics tracking tools, you can serve personal messaging on your website to students who have been accepted or made a deposit. Web personalization can keep accepted students engaged and focused when they return to your website after enrolling. Lightboxes, pop-ups, and banners can be used to promote upcoming orientation and accepted student dates directly to students.
For example, if you have a group of accepted students with a demonstrated interest in athletics, use lightboxes to promote upcoming accepted student days with images and language that emphasize athletic programs. For groups that are more interested in chemical engineering studies, use images and language that highlight laboratory and research opportunities on campus.
By sending targeted content to accepted students, your website can guide them to sign up for important orientation dates where they can meet with admission counselors and get vital information for their matriculation.
If you’re still unsure how to get started, reach out to Carnegie Dartlet. Our SEO services can help you identify keywords and create optimized content to answer the questions your students are asking. Our ClarityTM services can deliver targeted, personalized messaging to accepted students, keeping them on track through the fall.
Reach out to us today to start crafting a website that works for you!