People turn to online reviews for purchase decisions big and small. Whether it’s ordering a pizza, choosing a preschool or hiring a contractor, the internet holds the answers. One bad review won’t necessarily stop someone from moving forward, but consistent problems in multiple reviews will.

Knowing how much emphasis people place on customer reviews, it’s worth considering how reviews of your school can influence prospective students.

Using Reviews to Attract Prospective Students

Peer recommendations play a major role in the decision-making process for students. At this age, word-of-mouth recommendations are influential, especially when they come from the same peer group. Online reviews give prospects a feel for your programs, your culture and the experiences your school provides.

Online reviews of your school are also excellent social proof. All schools promise certain things, whether it’s a valuable degree, a flexible program or lower cost tuition. Student testimonials validate that your school can deliver on its promise. When your school’s messages are reinforced by students, prospects are more inclined to trust you.

Handling Negative Reviews

Not all reviews will be positive, especially as you start getting more of them. People won’t hesitate to take things to the internet if they’re mad or frustrated, though you hope to get in front of most issues. That said, a college with only glowing reviews can look suspicious, so don’t operate in fear of getting a poor review.

When a bad review is left, look at it as an opportunity to make it positive. Use a polite tone, acknowledge the person’s frustrations and invite them to contact you directly. This gives prospects an opportunity to see how your school handles conflict and treats it students and alumni.

Where Reviews Can be Left

Online reviews can be left on numerous channels. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Google My Business. GMB has become an important part of search. Student reviews impact local SEO and may show up in branded searches. Better rankings make it more likely that your school will show up in the local 3-pack.

  • Yelp. With millions of entries, Yelp has become a trusted source for useful, unbiased and informative feedback. Yelp’s demographics are ideal, with 60% being college educated and 49% with incomes of $100k or more.

  • Facebook. Facebook’s reviews have plenty of opportunities, such as the ability to add stickers, gifs, emojis, photos and more. They tend to be engaging, with the option for comments, tags and reactions.

  • College review sites. These sites include CourseFinders, Student Hut and others. Traffic is much less than Google and Facebook, but they provide more detailed information on educational institutions.

Online reviews are crucial to your online reputation. Encourage them across multiple platforms and be proactive so that you can address problems immediately. As you gather more of this content, they will serve as a valuable form of lead generation.