Boston University's College of Music Online Application Experience

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Students applying to colleges and universities have made their frustrations quite clear on Twitter. Feel free to checkout some of our favorite tweets about the painful application experience

Here is the walk through of what it takes to find the online application for Boston's College of Music.

BU School of Music Built With:
Wordpress
Application Software By:
Common Application

BU Music School's Application Experience - Home Page

There is no "Call to Apply" (CTA) visible any where in the primary navigation. Please don't bury the lead. 

Boston University's Application Experience - Step 1 - Homepage

BU Music School's Application Experience - Home Page

The CTA "Audition" is buried on the home page. It's also a bit unclear that the first step in their process is to submit a prescreening video and an audition tape. 

Boston University's Application Experience - Step 2 - Homepage

BU Music School's Application Experience - Audition Info

We can see here that there are multiple options under "Prescreening" and "Auditions". After selecting one of the items under Prescreening or Auditions we're met with even more link options in the drop down of each item.

Boston University's Application Experience - Step 3 - Admissions Page

BU Music School's Application Experience - Undergrad Prescreening

We're met with even more decisions. 

The step in this part of the process is never been made clear. The step as well as the CTA is buried under a bunch of text based warnings that might not apply to every single student.

Boston University's Application Experience - Step 4 - Admissions Page

BU Music School's Application Experience - Sent Offsite

New layout and navigation introduces unnecessary complexity

At this stage our users are first taken over to the Common Application interface. Once users are brought here we're introducing them to an entirely new layout and a lot of redundant text. The Application is not given enough emphasis.

Boston University's Application Experience - Step 5 - Get Acceptd App Page

BU Music School's Application Experience - Start Application

Once users figure out that the drop down in the left hand column there is a new deadline notification that displays. 

*This is not a formal recommendation - what if students could fill out applications on their timeline when they feel ready (lowering their stress with the application process) and us as higher ed institutions could accept applications and let our student know that it will be reviewed with the next batch of applications.

Boston University's Application Experience - Step 6 - Get Acceptd App Page Cont'd

BU Music School's Application Experience - Sign Up

Requiring guests to sign up for an account is one of the biggest user frustrations. Why do students need to create an account. Just like eCommerce sites see order/sales numbers increase when they eliminate the mandatory account creation process - in higher ed we need to make it easy for students to submit their application and perhaps offer users the option to create an account after completing the process. If we need more proof there is great article from Jared Spool about how removing the account creation requirement made a $300 Million dollar difference for an eCommerce site.

Boston University's Application Experience - Step 7 - Get Acceptd App Page Cont'd

BU Music School's Application Experience - Profile Info

Nothing much to say here except that if we didn't require a user account this step could easily be removed. 

Boston University's Application Experience - Step 8 - Get Acceptd App Page Cont'd

BU Music School's Application Experience - Start Application

Arguably we would not have come this far if we had observed the notice a few steps back that the admissions deadline had past. Still though why can't we let users submit a prescreening application on their timeline. 

We can finally start the application. 

Boston University's Application Experience - Step 9 - Get Acceptd App Page Cont'd

Conclusions

This process could easily be cut down by 6 steps if we:

  1. Brought the CTA's to the forefront of the home and admissions pages.
  2. Look into owning the application process and eliminating the user account sign up requirement.

We're about to ask students to make a serious monetary and life commitment for the next few years. Let's show students we are committed to them before they ever step foot on our campus. 

Is this what it feels like to find your website's application? Contact our team to:

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About the Author

Marty Vernon

Marty is Co-founder/Strategic Director at EDUCO. Connect with Marty on , LinkedIn or