- Higher Education
Students interested in applying for undergraduate and graduate programs rely on the internet to help them in their search. When students are considering your institution, they'll visit your website in search of information to help inform their search. Ideally, the information they find should help your university become one of their top picks. You may feel your website is already full of information, but do you have pages dedicated to these three topics?
- Faculty Accomplishments
- Student Life
- Alumni Profiles
We want to focus on these three pages, and explain why they can be important ingredients for the best university websites out there. If you want to impress prospective students, these pages should be prominent parts of your web presence. This article discusses these pages in light of higher education website best practices, so you can have a website that gives students the information they need and excites them about the possibility of being part of your school's community.
1. Faculty Accomplishments
Students consider a whole host of factors when determining where to apply and ultimately where to attend. A survey of college-bound students found that a school's reputation for academic quality was a top concern for many students when choosing a college. In fact, for students who committed to private institutions, this factor came up more often than any other factor as their main reason for their choice.
A significant determining factor for a university's academic reputation is how impressive their faculty are. And yet, many institutions don't give much attention to their faculty on their websites. There are several ways you can add value to your website through faculty. If you have especially notable faculty members associated with your institution, you may want entire pages dedicated to their profiles and accomplishments. Particularly for graduate students, who tend to work more closely with professors, accomplished faculty can be a real draw.
Of course, not every university has nationally or internationally well-known authors, researchers or activists. Even so, your faculty is sure to have some impressive accomplishments on their curriculum vitae — accomplishments that speak to their academic reputation and, thereby, the reputation of your institution. Bringing the most impressive accomplishments from faculty together onto a single page is a great strategy for wowing potential applicants.
Here are some examples of accomplishments to include:
- Creative work: Creative work shows that humanities faculty are inspired and invested in their craft. If a music professor composes a symphony, an English professor publishes a novel or an art professor's work is featured in a gallery show, note these worthy creative accomplishments on your website.
- Notable research: Especially at research universities, it's important to share the exciting new research faculty have undertaken or completed. This could include grants for research projects or published research. Publications can come in the form of books or articles published in academic journals.
- Notable presentations: Presentations are another important means of sharing inspiration and expert insights with others. If a faculty member has given a talk that was widely attended, presented at a conference or was a keynote speaker, this is certainly worthy of making it on to the faculty accomplishments page.
- Prizes and awards: Prizes and awards should always be a priority on your faculty accomplishments page. Think beyond awards given within your own institution, such as a faculty of the year award. Instead, see whether any faculty have achieved recognition from other bodies. This could be a Nobel prize, a Pulitzer prize or any other impressive achievement.
- Professional appointments: Professional appointments can also speak to the professional prestige of faculty members. If they occupy a seat on a professional committee, are on an editorial board for an academic journal or hold any sort of position in a professional association, that's a great thing to mention.
- Longevity in teaching: Not every accomplishment has to do with a prize, presentation or another one-time achievement. You can also highlight how long professors have been at your institution. Perhaps you have a faculty member who has been teaching and researching in a certain department for decades.
Bethel community stories highlights faculty and student accomplishments.
2. Student Life Page
The college experience isn't only about academics. Between attending classes and studying or working on assignments, students — especially those who live on campus — participate in various aspects of student life. Student life includes everything from clubs and activities on campus to amenities in the surrounding area. For many students, college means moving away from home for the first time, so it's no wonder that students want to know what their life will look like in a new town or city.
For some college hopefuls, student life isn't just a bonus aspect of college — it's a deciding factor. In one survey, among sixteen possible answers for why they decided to attend university, 22% of students included experiencing university life and having a good time in their top three answers. Another popular reason for attending university was so students could enjoy more freedom and independence. While moving away from home can be a bit intimidating to some, it can also be an exciting prospect.
If students are looking forward to a fun and exciting life on and off campus, they'll want to know what sort of student life they can expect at your institution. This may even become a determining factor in which university they plan to attend. Therefore, in addition to giving attention to what makes your institution unique academically, you should also focus on the uniqueness of your student life. This is a chance to diversify your institution from other competitors.
So, how can you highlight student life online in a way that excites potential students and places your school on their shortlist? We recommend a web page dedicated to student life. You may want to include a student life menu so visitors can click on the aspect of student life they're interested in to learn more. Whatever information you include, use images and videos to make it visual, especially on the main student life page, to capture attention and give more color and life to your description. These images and videos can also help you showcase student life on your homepage.
Here are some aspects of student life you'll want to include on your student life page:
Housing is likely to be on the minds of high school students who are nervous and excited about living on their own. Use plenty of visuals to show off residence halls and other housing options. Also, be sure to:
- Include a virtual tour of freshmen dorms
- Show upperclassmen dorms
- Mention off-campus housing options
- Promote amenities in residence halls
Clubs and Organizations
Students often look to clubs and other associations on campus to find like-minded individuals and to make friends. Talking about these clubs and extracurricular activities is a great way to show students they'll fit right in. As you cover clubs and organizations, be sure to:
- Highlight fraternities and sororities on campus
- Mention extra-curricular activities, such as intramural programs
- List all student clubs
- Give attention to spiritual life on campus, whether that includes services or student groups
Especially for students living on campus, the amenities on campus can impact their quality of life. Amenities can include a wide variety of facilities and services, but you should definitely mention these three:
- Give plenty of attention to dining services, which should include information about all dining halls and meal plans
- Feature gyms and wellness centers on campus
- Emphasize campus counseling and health services so students and parents are reassured
Don't forget about students who plan to commute. They'll want to know what student life looks like for a commuter when they're on campus. Reassure commuters that they are very much a part of the school community and also:
- List parking lots for commuters
- Spotlight the student union building and other places where commuters can spend time
Not all amenities need to be on campus. Students will also spend time off campus, and these spots can be just as important to them as the places on campus. Students will want to know what sorts of activities they can occupy themselves with when they want to get off campus and have some fun. Here are some things to include in this section:
- Mention local nightlife
- Highlight local restaurants that are favorites with students
- List local museums or famous landmarks
- Tell nature lovers where they can swim, hike, ski or do other outdoor activities
- Spotlight local concert venues
Wingate student life page is a resource to both current and prospective students.
3. Alumni Profiles
We already talked about how the accomplishments of faculty can contribute to your university's prestige and appeal. Another group that can help accomplish this goal is alumni. Successful alumni show prospective students what they can hope to accomplish after graduating from your institution. This is important since career outcomes are another one of the determining factors for students when they select a college or university to attend. Most students want to know that their education will be a meaningful stepping stone to a successful career.
You can reassure students about their job prospects through job placement statistics on your website. These statistics are critical in painting an overall picture of the way your institution prepares students for their career fields. However, this method is not limited to numbers. Adding a face to these statistics can help illustrate alumni success in a more meaningful way.
You don't have to be an Ivy League university to have notable alumni. Even small colleges are bound to have some alumni who have gone on to accomplish impressive professional goals. Are any alumni from your institution business executives, elected officials, professional athletes, published authors or professional award winners? These are excellent people to highlight on your website. Alumni can also serve as influencers on social media.
Notable alumni do not need to be celebrities or household names. They just need to be passionate about your institution and successful in their fields. Even alumni who are in the early stages of their career can be excellent choices for inclusion on an alumni profiles page since applicants will be able to identify more with these younger individuals. Find out what they've been up to since graduating and how their education helped them launch their professional career.
As you reach out to alumni, we recommend you collect enough information for an interesting profile which you can include on your website. Here are some topics you may want to ask about:
- Life after college: First, find out what direction their lives have taken since college. Did they spend time traveling before getting a job? Did they find a great entry-level position at their dream company? Did they marry their college sweetheart? If it's been a long time since they attended your university, focus on what their lives look like now.
- The role your college played: You also want to ask specifically about how your college helped alumni attain their current success. Interested students won't necessarily assume that your institution deserves the credit for getting alumni to where they are today. Chances are, though, your institution played an important role, so make sure alumni focus on that.
- Influential professors: Professors can also play a critical role in preparing students for their life after college. It could be a professor whose effective teaching helped give a student a solid start in their career, or it could be a professor in a general education course who was so passionate about a subject that they convinced a student to change majors.
- Internships, fellowships and co-ops: Also ask alumni if they were selected to participate in any internships, fellowships or co-ops that served as useful transitions from their academics into the workforce. Did a professor or other members of the faculty and staff help them find and apply for this internship? If so, that's a great testament to the way your college truly cares about the success of students.
- Networking: Another way universities can help students start in their careers is through networking events such as job fairs. For some students, an event like this may have been how they landed their first job after college. Perhaps for some, networking opportunities helped them form professional relationships that have helped them attain their current level of success.
Baruch College has a page dedicated to showcasing alumni.
How Finalsite Can Help Your Higher Ed Website Stand out to Prospective Students
At Finalsite, we understand the importance of a college website to students. That's why we offer custom solutions, including a suite of tools and services, to make it easy to implement higher education marketing best practices. Our solutions empower colleges and universities to create impressively designed websites that make it easy for students and parents to find the information they're looking for. This includes an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) designed specifically for schools.
If you want to revamp your website, our award-winning design team has the expertise and resources to turn your website into an asset for your institution through our redesign services. Our web designs are all unique, so your website can stand out from those of your competitors. We offer packages to fit any budget, so we can help you find the perfect solution to help you achieve your goals.
Our impressive retention rate speaks to the valuable work we do for colleges and universities across the country — 96% of higher ed clients who choose to partner with Finalsite maintain their partnership with us. If you want to take your website to the next level, consider working with Finalsite. You can have an amazing website with all the pages you need to bring your institution to life for prospective students searching online.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As an Internet Marketer on Finalsite’s Consulting Services team, Sarah has worked with over 100 schools domestically and internationally to improve their online presence with SEO and PPC. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her dogs (#dogmomlife), going to comedy shows with her boyfriend, and trying new restaurants in pursuit of the best gluten-free dishes.