Social media should become more of a priority for recruiting underrepresented students, says a report by Royall & Company, a division of EAB.
To conduct the survey, researchers asked 5,580 college-bound students about their engagement with social media, including which social media platforms they use. Researchers also asked how students prefer to receive information, both in general and from colleges specifically, as well as their household income range.
Researchers found that minority students are more likely than their peers to seek information about college via social media. For example, 27% of first-generation students said they first learned about a college on social media, compared with 17% of non-first-generation students. About one in four Hispanic/Latino students and black students said the same, but only 16% of white students did. Low-income students were also more likely to have found a college on social media than students from families with higher incomes.
Researchers also found evidence that underrepresented students rely on social media channels to learn about college rather than a personal connection such as a family member. While 81% of white students say they rely on parents or other family members for college information, only 61% of Hispanic/Latino students and 67% of black students said the same.
"These findings suggest that under-represented, college-bound students are less likely to consider their friends and family as a resource and do not have the opportunity to visit schools during their college search as often as their peers," says Pam Kiecker Royall, head of research at Royall & Company.
"They seem to be turning to social media to fill this information gap, which means there is an opportunity for colleges and universities to modify their social media efforts to provide students the information they need, where they are looking for it," Kiecker Royall adds (Arnett, Education Dive, 5/3; Kelly, Campus Technology, 5/2; Royall & Company report, accessed 5/4).
Read more: Student communication preferences in the digital era
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