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What should we ask when we collect student or alumni reviews for our school?

Focusing on what makes your programs distinctive relative to other schools

Prospective students consistently communicate that colleges and universities can feel similar when they are reviewing marketing materials. It is not surprising then that according to 2016 study of 1,500 students by GO Digital, 9 out of 10 students look at third-party college planning and review sites to support their decision.

For those organizations who have existing survey data the question of what you should use for ratings and reviews has probably been answered by your consultant. You have most likely fielded a very specific survey over time, which provides great data on your strengths and is based on research conducted by your consulting partner.

For those organizations without data, or for those who only field their current survey program every few years, the question of what to ask on their survey can be feel difficult. The question we always ask “if you were a student looking at a specific academic program at your institution what are the key attributes of the program which differentiate your program and your institution?” For many program leaders, including faculty, this is a great opportunity to discuss what the programs offer that is distinctive relative to competitors.

As an example, the Raikes School at the University of Nebraska offers students a unique program experience where students work in a design lab partnering with corporations on projects. The Expirically team partnered with the department leadership in developing a survey to be sent to all alumni to gain ratings on multiple attributes of the program, which are all promoted across current marketing channels. Alumni were also asked to share stories on why they selected the program and how the program has impacted their career. The responses provided the school great insights to support their strategy, including opportunities for improvement, and most importantly provided prospective students great social proof to the school's value proposition.

The Expirically team has an extensive background in branding and customer experience research, and whether focusing on a specific program or multiple programs, we will help ensure your institution's surveys focus on the things that speak to your unique value proposition.

Click here to learn how colleges and universities are leveraging alumni and student reviews to improve their reputation online.

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