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The Importance of Reviews
Reviews are becoming an increasingly important factor in the school decision process, from preschool all the way up to grad school. As we have discussed in previous posts, student reviews are the most important resource used when deciding where to apply. Making sure that you are reading what alumni, parents, and current students are saying about your school is important in informing your marketing and communication strategy to prospects.
This data dive considered over 130,000 reviews submitted by either a parent, alumni, or current student of a school (K-12 or college) in 2019. This analysis considers the responses given by parents, alumni, underclassmen (both HS and college), and upperclassmen (both HS and college). While there are few other segments that can submit reviews (current faculty, middle school student, etc.), the four segments we identified had enough of a sample size for us to pull meaningful insights. Once the audiences were segmented, we conducted an emotion-based word association analysis and term- count analysis on these reviews to see how responses differed among these groups. Prior to running these analyses, some minor text cleaning was conducted to remove words that would not merit further attention (“I”, “the”, “me”, etc.). Additionally, words like “school”, “college”, and “university” were omitted as well.
Top Words By Reviewer
- The number of times “campus” was mentioned decreased drastically from underclassmen to upperclassmen, possibly meaning this becomes less important as students progress through school.
- Reliability is something of importance to current students, and possibly not as much for alumni or parents.
- Words like teacher and professor were consistent across all four author types, potentially meaning the quality of the staff at schools is an important talking point.
- “Community” is something that came up for both parents and alumni, but not for current students.
Emotional Word Association by Reviewer
- The biggest takeaway from this analysis is that reviews are generally positive in nature, which may be contrary to preconceived notions.
- Words associated with anger were more prevalent in reviews left by alumni and underclassmen. The increased sense of anger in reviews left by underclassmen could likely be influenced by those wishing to transfer or change schools that then went to leave a review.
- Feelings of anticipation were more important to current students and alumni, likely centered around expectations and excitement towards their school.
- There were slightly more reviews with negative words in them from alumni and parents than current students.
- Reviews including words associated with trust were much lower for parents compared to alumni and current students, implying that earning parents trust in a school is more difficult.
Tool: Read Your Best Reviews!
K-12 Top Reviews
School District Top Reviews
College Top Reviews
Graduate Program Top Reviews
- Use these positive reviews in your marketing outreach! This is what students love most about your school, meaning the same things will likely resonate with prospective students and families.
- Conduct some analysis of the reviews unique to your school! There might be some interesting insights you can apply to your marketing copy.
- Incorporate some of the top words pulled in our analysis when writing targeted marketing material (e.g. including “community” in marketing material being sent out to alumni or parents)
- Encourage your students and community members to leave reviews on your Niche profile!