The average attention span of Gen Z is said to be just eight seconds long, a whole four seconds shorter than their millennial counterparts. This means they are harder to engage, quicker to click away from something, and more difficult to impress. Spending nearly ten hours a day on up to five screens, Gen Z are digital natives with no patience for a slow or poorly designed internet experiences, and they’re accustomed to every marketing trick in the book. So how do you get them to engage with your institution? We’ve put together a list of the top five things prospective students look for on an admissions site.

1. Short, Easy to Complete Forms:

Students don’t want to give away their information unnecessarily, so it’s important to keep forms, especially initial inquiry forms, as short and clean as possible, without asking for information that isn’t entirely necessary. Paring your forms down to include basics like name, email, and program of interest is best. It can be tempting to ask for additional information, but keeping things concise can mean the difference between a form getting completed and a form being abandoned.

2. Easy to Find Tuition Information:

A study done by Ruffalo Noel Levitz found that the tuition and scholarship information pages on a college’s website are some of the most highly trafficked by students at every level. Ensuring that this information is easily accessible, simple to consume, and applicable to a variety of student needs is critical for keeping prospective students engaged and on-page. Additionally, more than ever, college decisions are made based on a cost-benefit analysis. Students are no longer willing to take on years of debt for their education, so including a cost calculator right on your site helps students and parents begin to make those important decisions. 

3. Easy to See Academic Programs

Today’s students not only want to see what programs and courses are offered, but how they will fit into the academic program they’re interested in. Including things like specific courses, degrees, and job qualifications on your institution’s programs page will help students begin to visualize their time on your campus. After years of the classic “three and a tree” image, students are catching on, and they want a real glimpse into what life is like at the schools they’re interested in. 

4. Compelling Video and Visual Elements

When starting their college search, most students want to explore on their own terms. This means getting a feel of the site and the school before they fill in any forms or request more information from an admissions counselor. To make sure they have the best experience possible, investing in quality video and images is key. Because of the short attention spans we mentioned earlier, videos should be short: no longer than three minutes long, and images should be useful without being too stock-heavy. 

5. Their Own Path to Discovery

Most prospective students are not coming to your site through the homepage. This is true for most industries today, and it means that your site should be optimized to meet users’ needs no matter where they are. This can include optimizing things like department pages to make them landing pages. So what does this look like in practice? One suggestion from Ruffalo Noel Levitz, is transforming things like your Engineering course page into a landing page that includes more information about the program in general and how to apply. This way, you’re answering students’ potential questions all in one place, without forcing them to take additional steps to get to the information they really want. 

Because future students have such a short attention span and have grown up with phones and computers at their fingertips, it is more important than ever to keep them engaged with the information they need where they need it, and to keep your admissions site clean and user-focused.

Want to learn more about the tools prospective students use during their college search and application process? Check out the recording from our Digital Admissions Webinar, and sign up to be one of the first to receive the full Digital Admissions Report upon release.