Research has revealed that students applying to further education institutions prefer to browse and buy their courses online.
Websites based on an eCommerce structure have been shown to be more successful in gaining applications, as students are accustomed to eCommerce websites which provide a variety of sophisticated search tools and navigation paths. Rather than funnel students, websites which allow them to browse for courses are preferred. Allowing students to narrow their search using a variety of filters, including course type, level and area is recommended. Research has found that websites that do not offer this level of functionality could be alienating potential students:
“Many college websites simply provide an alphabetical listing of program offerings, requiring students to click into each one to see what it involves, and making it difficult to compare related programs. This may quickly frustrate students accustomed to the sophisticated search tools of online retailers like Amazon and Netflix”
And not only do students prefer to browse online, they also prefer to make their ‘purchase’ and apply online, streamlining the entire decision making and application process.
The decision making process in choosing a college course and institution is a complex one, with so many options on offer and uncertain outcomes.