During the student recruiting process, a college or university’s admissions website is a crucial element. It is often one of (if not the) first points of contact that a student (and often his or her parents/guardians as well) has with the school. After logging on to numerous home pages for both typical and for-profit colleges and universities, the differences were substantial.

For the typical college or university, prospective students often look for the the admissions home page, which serves as an important touch point, used to draw the student in to wanting to learn more about the school, and eventually to apply for admission. Often, the site highlights the unique attributes of the school and its students.

Often, the websites will have videos of students saying why they love their college/university, and provide facts about the school (usually including the school’s ranking on some list).

In essence, they are trying to show the student why THIS SCHOOL is the one he or she wants to go to. They try to attract students by their unique elements, often trying to explain why the college or university belongs on the prospective student’s list of schools to visit and/or apply to.

Many of the schools even have blogs written by students, as a way to market the school, and let prospectives get a feel of what it would like to be a student there.

For for-profit universities, websites seem to be more about getting information about the prospective student. While the home page often tries to evoke emotions related to getting a degree:

…it appears that the main goal is to get the potential student’s contact information. As the video College, Inc. demonstrated, for-profit universities view their call centers as a crucial element to achieve high enrollment numbers. And after watching the video, and then visiting the home pages of several for-profit universities, it was quite obvious that the websites are designed to get as much information from prospective students, in order to be able to call them personally and persuade them to enroll.

The first attempt is a banner at the top of the homepage telling the potential student that he or she can “talk to an advisor” (or similar phrases) by calling the number…trying to get the prospective to dial the phone on his or her own.

If that does not work, submitting information to “learn more” (or similar phrases) requires the prospective student to fill in his or her personal information (phone number, address, etc), which will allow the university to then continuously call, email, mail, etc. the student in the hopes of persuading him or her to enroll.


So while a college or university’s website is a crucial element in its recruiting process, it seems that typical universities and colleges take a much different approach to marketing on their home pages, than for-profit universities and colleges. The question is, which would you prefer?

Posted by Amanda Zingone



Sources (in order of appearance):