Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Survey shows dramatic growth in online applications and inquiries

Study reveals a 35% increase in web-based applications and a 36% increase in inquiries via the Internet

TMP Worldwide Inc has released its fifth annual Admissions Marketing on the Internet survey results revealing that U.S. colleges are leveraging the Internet more than ever for their promotion, prospecting and recruitment efforts. The findings point to an increased adoption of technology among colleges and universities as well as more sophisticated utilization, which is enabling institutions to achieve significantly greater results in all three admissions marketing areas.

On behalf of the Educational Marketing Group at TMP, the new survey was conducted in November 2001 by Pathfinder Research Group. TMP Worldwideís Educational Marketing Group is a full-service advertising agency dedicated solely to the recruiting and enrollment needs of post-secondary educational institutions.

Surveying nearly 250 colleges and universities across the US, the study found that the ìaverageî college has seen a 36% increase in online inquiries and a 35% increase in online applications over the past year. In addition, one out of five colleges surveyed (22%) now accept application fees directly through their website - more than double the percentage from last year (10%), and fives times that of just two years ago.

According to the study, college sites have grown dramatically in size and complexity, from 200 pages a year ago to more than the 250 pages today. The number of website inquiries has also grown, with one out of four universities indicated that inquiries have experienced a 50% increase since last year. Nine out of ten colleges surveyed reported seeing a rise in online applications, with one out of five citing increases in excess of 50% over the same time period. The proportion of schools without an online application capability further decreased over the past year from 11% to 6%.

ìThese findings clearly show that institutions are embracing the Internet more and more as a means of communicating with, and attracting, prospective students,î said John Meagle, vice president, Educational Marketing at TMP Worldwideís Advertising & Communications, North America. ìNot surprisingly, online applications are growing in popularity among prospective students and universities alike. The fact that twice as many colleges compared with last year now have the capability to accept application fees online is strong evidence of this trend.î

The Internet also appears to be the application vehicle of choice among top-tier prospective students. The studyís respondents found that students applying online are more than twice as likely to be more qualified than those responding through more traditional means. Particularly noteworthy is the Internetís positive impact on out-of-state and International enrollment. Roughly half of the responding institutions perceived gains in these segments as a direct result of their websites.

When asked to rate the success of their web sites based on seven attributes, respondents said they were most effective at increasing inquiries to the school, providing current information about the school, increasing applications and communicating with prospective students.

ìOnce again, the largest schools and four-year public schools, including those that have been on the web the longest, are experiencing the biggest impact to their admissions processes,î added Meagle. ìClearly, more and more schools are realizing the extent to which the Internet can fuel their admissions marketing efforts and we expect this trend to continue.î