Saint Mary’s undergraduate population is a good source of energy and vitality for the institution, and in some sense they’re the most visible manifestation of the brand. But SMC is more than its undergraduates, and its other audiences should be welcomed (and depicted) throughout the new site.
A healthy program of graduate study can help an institution in many ways. Of course some of these are practical and economic; but in addition, graduate students tend to do very engaged and interesting research projects, which can serve as models for the kind of work that undergrads aspire to do. They contribute to the brand just as much as undergraduates, though in a different way.
- Stories can come from anywhere— undergraduate or graduate— and be appreciated by both of these groups. The School of Business provides a great example. The Undergraduate Business page is somewhat lackluster and underwhelming; the Graduate Business page is full of interesting and dynamic information. The latter should enrich the former; the fact is, a School of Business page should be created that depicts both graduate and undergraduate work— this will be beneficial to both populations. The same goes for Education, Liberal Arts, and the professional programs.
- In some ways, prospective graduate students have the same needs as undergrad prospects. They want quick access to information, as well as a good sense of what life is like at the institution. But for these students, clear presentation of information is even more important. A considerable percentage of your graduate prospective audience really is just interested in direct access to information about programs and opportunities.
- The imagery and photography on the site might reflect the energy of the undergraduate population— and there will certainly be lots of photos of undergraduates on the site. But there shouldn’t be a perceptible imbalance toward the undergraduate experience.
- Professional students will tend to inhabit different social media spheres from the prospective undergraduate. Older students are more likely to use LinkedIn, for example. Any social networking components of the site should reflect this.
- Where appropriate, graduate and undergraduate programs should be listed together. A prospective undergraduate interested in education is likely to be very interested in the School of Education’s graduate offerings, even if she can’t pursue them yet.