This quantitative study investigated e-mail responsiveness by community colleges in the nine mega-states to an inquiry from a prospective student. Noel-Levitz (2006b) reported that prospective students want to receive an e-mail with information about an institution prior to applying for admission. Specifically, high school juniors and seniors want to have a two-way conversation with an institutional representative during their college search (Noel-Levitz, 2006a, 2007a, 2007b, 2008). Research also indicates that community colleges are not as likely as four-year institutions to use web-based communication with prospective students (Noel-Levitz, 2008; Peakow, 2006). Half of the community colleges in this study replied to an e-mail inquiry from a prospective student within five business days, just over 30% of community colleges responded with individualized responses, and a number of institutions utilized automated software that did not address the prospective student's questions. Community colleges must acknowledge and respond to the wants and needs of their prospective students for two-way communication during the college search process. With the dramatic expansion of web-based communications options, community colleges that routinely ignore prospective student e-mail inquiries risk a negative backlash from a variety of directions. Numerous student complaints about an institution's lack of responsiveness could trigger any number of local- and state-level concerns impacting everything from simple image and reputation to questions about administrative priorities and the appropriateness of funding levels. © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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