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Web Optimization Case Study – Lamar Community College

Gone are the days of brochures and glossy catalogues. In 2021, your college or university’s website is your #1 marketing tool. If it doesn’t look good and it isn’t user-friendly, it isn’t going to reflect well on your institution. Studies show users draw a whole host of conclusions about you just from your website alone, including the credibility of your college or university. Slow, clunky, out-of-date websites will make students think your organization is just the same.

Let us help bring you up-to-speed. Check out how we were able to help our client, Lamar Community College, increase their website loading speed by 75%!

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2020 Communicator Awards


 

25th Hour Communications recognized for marketing excellence from the world’s longest-running awards program for communications professionals

(PASO ROBLES, Calif.)25th Hour Communications Inc. was recognized for its excellence in marketing and public relations in two different categories by the world’s most prestigious awards organization for communication.

The Communicator Awards, the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals, recently notified the leading higher education marketing and public relations agency that it received both an Award of Distinction for the Integrated Campaign category and an Award of Distinction for Marketing Effectiveness for the 2021 year. 25th Hour Communications was recognized for a custom integrated marketing campaign it designed for its client, the Rancho Santiago Community College District, and for an enrollment campaign that was tailored to meet the needs and goals of Minneapolis College for Fall 2020, which far exceeded the college’s enrollment expectations during a time of regional civil unrest. 

25th Hour Communications President Jennifer Aries said the awards are an incredible honor, and demonstrative of the talented and hard working team that works at the agency.

“These honors are the result of three things that make our agency special: a hardworking team that takes care of each other and our clients; top-level creative talent in our ranks and lastly but most importantly: we believe in what we do and we are completely committed to helping institutions of higher education meet and exceed their goals.”

“The work entered into this year’s 27th Annual Communicator Awards is even more impressive than in seasons’ past. This year’s entries are a truly stellar embodiment of our “Communication is everything” tagline,” said Eva McCloskey, managing director of the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), which judges and curates the awards. “On behalf of the Academy, I would like to thank all of this season’s entrants for their willingness to produce such boundary-pushing, effective and outstanding work.” 

For more information about 25th Hour Communications Inc., visit 25comm.com

For more information about the Communicator Awards, please visit communicatorawards.com, email the Communicator Awards at info@communicatorawards.com, or call (212) 675-3555.

 

About 25th Hour Communications, Inc: 25th Hour Communications is a full-service marketing agency and a leading-edge provider of communication and marketing services to colleges and organizations nationwide. We provide our clients an expertly crafted, comprehensive marketing strategy, weaving traditional tactics with innovative digital marketing solutions to meet their audiences where they are, every single time. We are industry titans and fresh eyes helping our clients increase brand awareness, drive leads and conversions, and grow market share to meet their definition of success.

 

About The Communicator Awards: The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program honoring creative excellence for marketing and communications professionals. Founded by passionate communications professionals over two decades ago, The Communicator Awards is an annual competition honoring the best digital, mobile, audio, video, and social content the industry has to offer. The Communicator Awards is widely recognized as one of the largest awards of its kind in the world. The Communicator Awards are judged and curated by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA). The AIVA is an assembly of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media. Current AIVA membership represents a “Who’s Who” of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms including: GE Digital, Spotify, Condè Nast, Disney, Republica, Majestyk, Fast Company, Upstatement, and many others. See aiva.org for more information.

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Effective Website Must Haves!

Ever bought a bottle of wine just for the label?

Ever walked into a store because of the way the sign looked?

Ever read a book because of the cover?

Ok, the last one might be a little cliché, but these three examples all have something in common. We hate to say it but… looks do matter, especially when it comes to first impressions.

Your college’s website is no exception. Your website is the front door to your college and if your website doesn’t look great or isn’t user-friendly, the odds are you’re not going to get that potential student.

Right now, there are literally thousands of institutions of higher education, most of which now offer at least some form of virtual learning options. For a student, this means a college that is thousands of miles away isn’t off-limits to them anymore. For a college, this means your website must look modern, easy to navigate, and has got to be fast. It’s a buyer’s market now — and if your website isn’t top notch, a potential student might perceive your college as not-credible and not worth their time and hard-earned money.

25th Hour Communications Inc. has helped many colleges and organizations clean-up and revamp their sites, however, so we know a thing or two about how to make websites fast, functional, and even a little bit fun. Just recently our web development team worked their magic on a client’s site, increasing their site speed by 75 percent

Want to know if your college website makes the cut? Scope out our checklist below, compiled by our web development and User Experience (UX) teams:

 

An effective college website must have:

  • As little clicks as possible in all areas — keep the site “shallow.”
  • Intuitive design (no ‘new’ or confusing navigation bar layouts)
  • Just the right amount of modern interaction (hover effects, color changes, scroll animation, etc.). Too much can look amateurish.
  • Keep copy to the essentials, anything super descriptive is better shown with an infographic or a picture
  • Keep anything pertaining to active/current students in a student portal/landing page/microsite – Current students should not be using your main [college].edu site on a regular basis.
  • Make sure the site is fast (under 1.5/2 seconds loading per page) and optimized for all screen sizes, especially mobile, which is more common among the under-25/traditional student age group. It is estimated that 80 percent or more of internet traffic will be coming from mobile devices or tablets in coming years.
  • Proper and modern Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (SEO has moved way past meta tags and keywords nowadays, so staying on top of how Google/Bing/etc. rank pages is huge)
  • Make sure all content is always up to date
  • Provide easy access to Apply/Donate/Request Information
  • Have a step-by-step guide for the application process
  • Keep branding consistent throughout the site
  • Have Calls To Action (CTAs) in multiple forms – buttons, underlined links, etc.
  • Avoid clutter – less is more
  • Avoid jargon that users unfamiliar with your site won’t understand

It all comes down to this: colleges must avoid any internal or external pressures to use the website as a place to store internal information. You must be vigilant about using your website as a marketing tool only. If you found yourself missing some of the above bullets, you might be missing potential students too. Give us a call and we will get you on the path to a website that will support your enrollment goals.

References:

https://www.oberlo.com/blog/mobile-usage-statistics

https://techjury.net/blog/mobile-vs-desktop-usage/

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Innovative Community Colleges


 

 

April is National Community College Month and we’re celebrating all the ways two-year institutions of higher education are awesome, life-changing institutions.

Many students choose community college to achieve their academic and career goals because they are flexible with their schedules — but did you know that same flexibility applies to programming as well? Community colleges across the country are innovative, nimble and are pioneers in higher education.

Take the case of one of our clients, BridgeValley Community and Technical College (BVCTC). The West Virginia college has made its campus more inclusive and accessible than ever before, thanks to its Neurodiversity Pathfinders program. 

Neurodiversity is a term that covers a range of neurodevelopmental conditions including Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and more, and can be used to describe a population. Whereas, the term neurodivergent is used when referring to an individual with a neurodevelopmental condition.

Designed according to the social justice and intersectional models of disability, the program provides neurodivergent students, pursuing their choice of degree or certificate program, with educational opportunities for strengths-based self-knowledge in four main areas of focus: self-advocacy, self-regulation, social interaction, and executive functioning. The goal, according to BVCTC Director of College-Wide Initiatives, Dr. James Goodwin, is for students in the program to be able to develop the ability to communicate effectively and successfully access academics, campus services and community and career options.

The program, thus far, has had a 100 percent retention rate since its launch, with all students maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA with a full course load, according to Director of Accessibility and Support Services, Spencer Poling. One student said the program has made college less intimidating for them and provides them with good practice for daily life.

“I enjoy the Neurodiversity Pathfinder Program from all of the experience I’ve had within it,” said one participating student. “It’s been very informative and has told me a lot about different skills, strengths and weaknesses that I have or do not have. I’d be interested in attending again and I hope the program continues in the future.”

According to Goodwin, the college identified there was a need within the local community for this type of program so neurodivergent students could also attain higher education. BVCTC President Dr. Eunice Bellinger put together a task force including Goodwin’s College-Wide Initiatives team, experienced committee members from Student Services and Faculty (Carla Blankenbuehler, Ashley Lewis, James McDougle and Spencer Poling), to come up with a plan of how to best serve neurodivergent students. The team agreed — the social justice model and its philosophy resonated with BVCTC’s mission. 

“Ultimately, we aim to help these students be successful in their studies and in their life endeavors,” Goodwin said. “This program doesn’t tell students that they can’t succeed because they are neurodivergent. Instead, we are celebrating the individual’s unique qualities and abilities.”

Goodwin said the program design was modelled after a similar program offered by Bellevue College in Washington.

For more information about the Neurodiversity Pathfinders at BVCTC or to apply, email James.Goodwin@bridgevalley.edu, spencer.poling@bridgevalley.edu or natalie.sigmon@bridgevalley.edu.

 

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Why Community College is Awesome

 

April is National Community College Month, and we are incredibly proud to be the leading community college marketing and public relations agency. But we’re #MoreThanGreatMarketing — we’re a team of true believers. Community Colleges are awesome — and they deserve all the recognition and support not just in the month of April, but every day of the year.

Here’s just a short list of why we think community colleges are the bee’s knees.

 

Community Colleges are affordable.

We love four-year universities, we really do. But who doesn’t love saving a buck whenever they can?

For students seeking a bachelor’s degree, the community college is the best discount on a degree there is. For students planning on going to an in-state public college, the cost savings averages about $8,000. The savings are even greater for private colleges — students who attend community college before transferring to a private university save, on average, a whopping $30,000.

 

Community Colleges are diverse.

Community colleges are addressing diversity issues head-on. A number of community colleges (and many of our clients including San Bernardino Valley College, Santa Ana College and San Diego Mesa College) are embedding diversity, equity and inclusion into their policies, processes and procedures. These institutions are on the cutting-edge of promoting social justice within their institutions, and we couldn’t be prouder to help them promote these efforts.

Moreover, community colleges are more likely to be diverse institutions than their four-year counterparts, both in their student populations and within their employee ranks. According to a 2017 study conducted by the American Council on Education, community colleges are much more likely to have a woman or minority president when compared to their four year counterparts. Just 22 percent of public four-year institutions and 10.6 percent of private colleges were led by minority presidents, and half of all of those aforementioned lead minority-serving institutions. Just 11 percent of all university presidents are from a minority group when those leading minority-serving institutions are removed.

These statistics are reinforced when looking at gender: Thirty percent of all college presidents were women, according to Inside Higher Ed, yet almost half of all California community college presidents were women (50 out of 114). 

Nearly one third of all community college students are first-generation college students, which is a larger share of the student population for four-year institutions. Although diversity varies greatly between state and institution, 58 percent of community college student populations identify as being a part of a minority group, while just 42 percent of undergraduates at four year institutions self-identify as a being a part of a minority group.

 

Community Colleges are flexible.

Community colleges design their course schedules around the needs of their students, many of whom have families, jobs and other obligations. Community colleges offer many of their courses online, in the evenings or on the weekends, so that all of their students can complete their courses when it is convenient for their individual schedules. Many community colleges also offer affordable child care services to make higher education flexible to parents and guardians when it otherwise would not be accessible.

 

Community Colleges are close to home.

Community colleges are located all over the country, making it easier than ever to access a higher education without having to move far away from home. It isn’t an accident that the word “community” is in the name. Community colleges are designed to have programs, like workforce development programs and professional certificates, that meet the needs of their regions economically and academically. These are mutually beneficial partnerships to help students get good jobs and industries staffed with well-trained professionals.

 

Sources: https://www.savingforcollege.com/article/how-much-do-you-really-save-by-going-to-community-college#:~:text=Based%20on%20student%20budgets%20calculated,%2Dyear%20in%2Dstate%20college.

https://everfi.com/blog/colleges-universities/community-college-diversity-statistics/#:~:text=Community%20colleges%20play%20a%20major,are%20enrolled%20in%20community%20colleges.&text=Community%20colleges%20also%20serve%20a%20very%20diverse%20population.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/06/20/college-presidents-diversifying-slowly-and-growing-older-study-finds

http://perspectives.acct.org/stories/diversity-of-community-college-students-in-7-charts

https://www.aacu.org/aacu-news/newsletter/2019/march/facts-figures#:~:text=A%20Diversifying%20Student%20Population&text=In%202017%2C%20the%20population%20was,Hawaiian%20or%20other%20Pacific%20Islander.

https://www.communitycollegereview.com/diversity-rankings/national-data