WSU Identifies Admissions Website Patterns Using UChat

Every admissions team strives to create a seamless admissions process for their students. According to the 2014 Social Admissions Report, navigating admissions websites is the primary way students seek answers to their questions. Wouldn’t it be amazing to know the information that students are trying to find on your website? Sure, you can track high-traffic areas or links clicked, but you can only infer the answers that prospective students seek.

In September 2013, Washington State University (WSU) implemented UChat, an admissions website widget designed to connect prospective students to admissions counselors and student ambassadors. Receiving over 15,000 applications each year, WSU wanted to provide better service to prospective students by addressing future Cougars’ questions promptly to build relationships.

Using UChat, the admissions team was able to engage with prospective students and answer their questions in real-time. Read more about WSU’s switch from College Week Live to UChat here.

Since implementation, WSU has received 829 questions – that’s about 10 questions per day. What were prospective students asking? A text analysis revealed three major themes: application and admissions, transfers, and requirements.

WSU word frequency

 Application and admissions were mentioned countless times as both high school and community college students needed information regarding applying, acceptance, scholarships, and deadlines. For example, some individuals wanted to know whether they should “apply as a freshman or transfer.” Others were eager to discover “Is there a certain deadline for merit scholarship?” or “how long… [does it] take to know you have been accepted once your application is in?”

 Next, prospective students from community colleges, out-of-state, and other countries asked various questions about transferring. They wanted to know when and where to send transcripts.  One student asked,“I am transferring… [from] community college and wondering where I send the transcript to?”}

Transfer students were also concerned whether certain classes, credits or courses were transferrable, like one student who asked, “Is there a way I can check which courses I have already taken will transfer over, and courses I can take next semester to make sure I don’t take any unnecessary classes?”

 Finally, prospective students were interested in the requirements for applying to WSU and, in some cases, for certain programs and degrees. Individuals were worried about their transcripts, GPA, and SAT scores like this student who asked, “Is it possible to get in with a 2.9 GPA?”

Furthermore, prospective students were distressed about when and where to send required documentation, such as “I just got my SAT scores back but I did not send them to WSU. I plan on applying here, how do I send my scores?”

WSU UChat Word Cloud

Understanding which words and phrases were most frequently asked was enlightening for WSU’s Director of Recruitment, Jocelyn De Jong. “I’m using the questions [from UChat] to enhance and build on our website so students don’t have to reach out to us as often,” she stated.

By identifying insufficiencies on their admissions website, WSU will be able to add pertinent content to make the admissions process easier for students and decrease workload for the admissions team.