A study of more than 3,000 college and university admissions Web sites has ranked Fort Hays State University’s in the top 10 in three categories: No. 1 in the Midwest region, No. 6 overall and No. 3 among master’s level institutions.
“This is really great news because I tried hard over the years to make the site easy to use and to provide as much information as possible," said Suzanne Klaus, webmaster at FHSU.
"I think ours is very easy to get around," said Tricia Cline, admissions director. "Parents tell us it's very easy to find things, and they like it because it is easy to RSVP for events and things like that, but the simplicity of our admissions site is what I think makes the navigation so easy. You do not have to do a lot of click-throughs to get to the information that students want. That is something that parents and students tell us they like."
The study was the eighth annual Enrollment Power Index, a research-based analysis conducted by the National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA). It rates sites based on how well the functionality and design of the site
provides information to potential students to take them “from prospect to applicant,” according to an NRCCUA news release.
Both Klaus and Cline were surprised to hear about the study. The first they knew of it was when they were asked to comment.
"We didn't do anything to get in the study," said Cline. "I think it's great that NRCCUA found us rather than anyone from FHSU sending in our information. This type of recognition says a lot for our webmaster and her students because she is the one who keeps the admissions site up and running."
The first reaction from Cline and Klaus was that they are currently working on improvements to the site.
"We're working on it now, making upgrades and planning some things," said Klaus. "It's kind of nice to know it's that good, and hopefully the things we're doing will improve it even more."
"I think sometimes we are our toughest critics," said Cline. "We are always wanting to find new ways to make our site better." Among the things they are working on, she said, is doing more with Podcasting and blogging.
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"But it's great to know that the functionality of the admissions Web site was ranked No. 1 in the Midwest," she said.
For the study, NRCCUA conducts an e-mail survey of more than 100,000 college-bound high school students, asking each student to rate two admissions Web sites. Then, more than 3,000 sites are evaluated to identify functional features. Statistical tests are used to identify functional features most important to students and their relative importance.
The study divides institutions by type: doctoral-research, master’s, liberal arts institutions, Catholic institutions, community colleges, and specialty institutions. Thirty-four criteria are divided into five categories: prominence of an admissions office link on the home page; page design and ease of navigation; online access to admissions materials; additional admissions information; and the ability to contact the admissions office.
The NRCCUA is a non-profit education research organization based in Lee’s Summit, Mo. For 34 years, it has conducted the largest nationwide survey of high school students, which serves as a communications link between college-bound high school students and public and private colleges and universities. More information is available from its Web site, www.nrccua.org.
Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles, was ranked No. 1 overall. Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash., was second; Arizona State University was third; Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Ga., was fourth; and York College, York, Pa., was fifth.
Rounding out the top 10, behind Fort Hays State, was the University of North Carolina-Pembroke at seventh; Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill., in eighth; Southern Utah University, Cedar City, ninth; and College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass., in 10th.