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Follow Today, Unfollow Tomorrow: Why Students Lose Interest in Colleges

At Scoir, we help students find the right college by answering the questions, “Will I fit in?”, “Can I get in?”, and “Can I afford it?” Students demonstrate interest by following colleges to receive additional information and timely reminders within the platform. What happens when students change their mind about schools and why might that happen? We recently surveyed students to find out. 

In the past 30 days, approximately 10,000 of the 500,000 students on Scoir have unfollowed a college. We think that's a good thing! When a student is following a college, they have high intent because they follow colleges they are genuinely interested in. Student interests evolve over time as they learn more about schools and preferences shift during the college search journey. We asked students who recently unfollowed a college the question, “What’s the most common reason you unfollow a college? The results were clear.


The Results

Reasons Why Students Unfollow Colleges

  1. Academics (29%)
  2. Fit (28%)
  3. Finances (15%)
  4. Acceptance Likelihood (15%)
  5. Other (8%)
  6. Student Life (5%) 

Students most commonly unfollow a college because of academics, closely followed by fit. For academics, that could be because a school doesn’t offer the major of interest or because of academic rigor. With our upcoming College Profile enhancements, we’re making it easier for students to browse and identify whether a college has their intended major, as well as view expanded content about said major when a college does offer it. The question of fit is more nebulous and potentially more emotion driven. Factors that could play into fit are campus community, diversity, and more.

Finances and acceptance likelihood were tied for the third most common reason students unfollow. Average net price, cost of attendance and scholarship availability all play a role in finances. Acceptance likelihood is something top of mind for students, especially approaching senior year. The college admissions process can be daunting and anxiety inducing for students. Students can view scattergrams in Scoir to gather insights into their acceptance likelihood and collaborate closely with college counselors and family members while building college lists.

Somewhat surprisingly, student life was the least common reason why students unfollowed a college. That could include reasons like athletic teams, clubs, and more that make up how a student experiences life on campus. As part of the survey, we also asked students for additional insights into their thought process while unfollowing schools. Students frequently mentioned that while their primary reasons for unfollowing were captured in the above, secondary reasons for unfollowing were finances and acceptance likelihood.


Student Commentary

In the free form feedback, students talked about refining lists as they learn more about schools during the college search process. Location was also top of mind for students. Some initially had aspirations of going to school far away then decided to stay closer to home. Size of the school was noted as a reason by students who changed their mind about wanting a large or small school. Changing ideas about Campus setting also played a role. Multiple students specifically unfollowed because they found out a school was in a rural area. Campus appearance and concerns about campus safety after visiting a college or reading something negative in the news were also listed by several students as a reason for no longer being interested.

Lack of diversity was another common call out in the student feedback section of the survey. Students want to attend schools that value diversity, equity, and inclusion in a demonstrable way. Relatedly, one of the most frequently mentioned reasons for losing interest mentioned by students was realizing a college has an SAT or ACT requirement. Student sentiment towards the tests is increasingly negative as the test-optional movement continues to gain momentum and public concerns grow about their role in perpetuating inequality in the admissions process.


What Colleges Can Do About Unfollows

We pride ourselves on taking a student-centered approach in everything we do and not sharing student PII. That’s why colleges can't pay to advertise or prevent unfollows on Scoir. What colleges can do is ensure they're sharing accurate information about academic programs, cost and aid, and campus community to help students answer the questions, “Will I fit in?”, “Can I get in?”, and “Can I afford it?” With the Insights Dashboard included in our College Solutions, colleges can measure the size of their interested student audience over time by class year and gain an in-depth understanding of student interests and preferences. As students are exploring colleges, colleges can create a personalized experience for every student visiting their profile through the use of our Content Management System (CMS), which dynamically surfaces content based on student interests.

For students who demonstrate interest by following, colleges can also engage through Outreach Messaging to provide additional context that can’t readily be found through other online sources, such as current student perspectives. Unlike email, when a student is no longer interested, they immediately stop receiving messages on Scoir and don’t get frustrated by continued outreach. This also means colleges can focus on engaging students with the highest intent, who are most likely to convert and yield.

Interested in learning more about how to authentically engage best-fit students?

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