Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Girls under Trees says "American"

Last week at #heweb09, I sat in on a presentation by Mark Heiman of Carleton College. Mark spoke about what they found high school Juniors were liking and looking for on college websites. One thing he noted was pictures of people under trees were more of a turn off than pictures of buildings. We came to know this as "Girls Under Trees."

Today I came across this website and tweeted "People under trees!! Ack!"

I thought I might get a few response from those who attend #heweb09, but to my surprise Wassan Humadi responded with an intriguing view point.

I never thought about it this way before. "American College" stereotype is not conveyed to me through pictures of people under trees. This opened up a great conversation. Wassan pointed out that we see the same things over and over. They seem staged. To me, staged pictures are an issue. If we could make pictures of people under trees seem more real there wouldn't be as big of an issue for me. To a 17 year old new to the college search process, they all look new. Each seems unique.

I haven't been very involved in, well "not very involved" actually means I haven't had anything to do with, international recruiting, yet. So I wonder what would say "American College" more than people under trees. Here in Arizona would people under cacti be just as "American" as "people under trees?" Come to find out, the changing of colors of the trees is the part that makes it seem more American.

Wassan also noted that "multicultural pics" of kids sitting around is the biggest turnoff.

So to us, we see people under trees as a complete turn off while international students see multicultural pictures a complete turn off.

Before you go changing all the pictures on your website, take into consideration who you want to market to the most. Are you wanting to increase your international student base? Maybe you ought to keep the "people under trees." Or you could just take time to better develop your international pages.

Out of all of this, take into consideration your international market. Your "Girls under trees" might be the deciding factor for a student.