Survey reveals student communication preferences

September 9, 2015 | San Diego Community College District

E-mail may not be dead yet. While students increasingly rely on new media - including social media, college websites, and mobile apps - e-mail is their preferred method of communication with the district and its colleges, according to a new survey of student communication habits.

The first-of-its-kind survey, conducted in July with 3,011 students at City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, will be used to help enhance student communications across the district. 

Eighty-seven percent of students listed e-mail as their preferred method of receiving information from the district and its colleges. Online sources, including college websites (65 percent) and the Student Services website (44 percent) were their next favorite methods of receiving information. 

“Students want a variety of convenient options for getting information about the district and its colleges,” said Jack Beresford, Director of Communications and Public Relations. “A lot depends on the type of information they’re looking for but generally they want more not less.”

Not surprisingly, students are increasingly using mobile devices to send and receive information.  More than three of four students say they use a mobile device “always” or “frequently.”  However, word-of-mouth and more traditional methods such as the printed class schedule also rate high in terms of ways students get information about the district and its colleges. 

With regards to social media, YouTube edged out Facebook as students’ favorite social network with 73 percent of students saying they watch YouTube videos several times a day or weekly compared with 68 percent who are on Facebook.  Instagram (51 percent), Snapchat (39 percent), and Twitter (18 percent) rounded out the field.

Overall, students are generally happy with the amount of information they receive with 65 percent saying it’s about right.  Thirty-three percent would like more information and only a very small percent say they get too much.

As for the type of information they’re looking for, “information on available classes and academic programs” was strongly preferred. Other types of content they are interested in (in descending order) are:  “announcements, deadlines and class schedule,” information on “scholarships and financial aid,” and information on “careers and transfer.”  

Students overwhelmingly listed counselors as the ones they would seek out first for help with academic planning. However, professors, classmates, and other district staff can also play an important role in keeping students informed.

The survey was conducted by the district’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning on behalf of Student Services and the district’s Communications and Public Relations Office. 

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