This post is sponsored and written by Formstack, an easy-to-use online form building solution.

Online forms are useful for campus visit registrations, applications, financial aid requests, and more. Having a way to collect this data is a great asset, but only if students actually fill them out. According to recent research, the average conversion rate for higher education forms is only 8 percent, which is below the general average.

With small adjustments, administrators can achieve higher completion rates on their application forms. And higher completion rates ultimately means more students on campus.


If you’re struggling with getting prospective students to engage with your university, you might be committing one of these 5 form flubs:

1. Students feel intimidated.

Long forms can overwhelm students. One way to counteract this feeling is to communicate the value of submitting their info. For example, a scholarship application might be extensive, but students clearly understand its purpose. To make your applications look less scary, include a “save and finish later” option so students can tackle them in chunks. Splitting a form into separate pages can also reduce cognitive overload during the submission process.

2. Your application is not mobile-optimized.

If students cannot easily navigate your content, they will lose interest. Mobile-optimized forms help make sure your application is viewable on smartphones. One survey reports that 67 percent of students are willing to complete forms on mobile devices. While your entire application may be a bit difficult to complete on a phone (that essay question won’t write itself!), students can answer shorter questions on their phone and save the rest for later.

3. Prospective students are online, but somewhere else.

Some software platforms offer a Facebook-embedding feature that allows you to post a form directly onto your college’s Facebook Page. According to Noel Levitz, 66 percent of prospective students are willing to complete college inquiry forms on Facebook. Putting a request for information on your university’s Page can be a great way to connect prospective students with your Admissions team. You can leverage this space for more interactive forms, like a contest for free textbooks or dorm gear.

4. Branding is inconsistent.

If students think a form is not secure or it does not fit the rest of your site, they could become confused and click away. Branding is key to a high conversion rate, so use official logos and colors on your application to maintain continuity. In a recent survey of online form users, sixty- two percent of respondents said that embedding their forms onto their websites led to more submissions. Most online form builders make it easy to embed your application in just a few steps.

5. Your application isn’t accessible.

You’re probably familiar with the term 508 Compliance – which ensures your website is accessible to visitors with disabilities – but are your applications and request forms compliant too? For more user-friendly engagement, pages that collect data from prospective students must be compliant with Section 508 standards. If you are unsure about the accessibility of a page, there are websites that can scan your site and find potential compliance issues.

Every form submission can impact a student’s decision to attend your school, so it is important to maximize engagement. Make these small changes to your online forms and see how it impacts participation with your prospective students.

About the Author

Laura Thrasher is a writer at Formstack, an online form building platform that makes it easy to capture and manage data. Based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, she taught English at the University of Alabama and enjoys sharing what she knows through speaking and writing. She is originally from the Midwest and enjoys good restaurants, cheesy jokes, and running the occasional half marathon. Follow her on Twitter (@lauranav) or Google+.


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