How do you show someone to want what they don’t know exists? This is our challenge at the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. With 23 undergraduate majors, the college offers majors like entomology and nematology, food science, and forest resource conservation that students don’t often know about or that they lead to successful, in-demand careers.
That’s where a quiz comes in. Not that kind of quiz; a fun one!
The goal of the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ (CALS) Majors Quiz is to help prospective students navigate the many academic majors available within the college that can help lead them to a successful career in the agricultural sciences, life sciences, natural resources, and social sciences.
In 2018, the college administrative team for academic programs within the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) brainstormed different ways to help prospective students discover the world of possibilities when it comes to majors and careers. Our team found that many incoming students and their influencers do not know the breadth and depth of majors available across STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, specifically in the agricultural and life sciences.
Our administrative team in CALS looked into different digital interactive tools that the student audience would use when deciding upon a college major. Our team felt the best way to reach our audience would be through an interactive quiz hosted on our college website.
As people respond to the quiz’s 14 questions, the points on the circular graph move to indicate the quiz taker’s affinity for certain majors with each response. By the end of the quiz, the quiz taker receives a list of five potential majors within CALS that they might want to explore. Students can then click on the “Learn More” button next to each of those five majors to visit each major’s landing page. The quiz taker can share their results on social media, email their results to themselves, or submit a note to the college for more information about the majors. Through the use of quadrants on the circular graph, quiz takers can see where their interests are in terms of agricultural sciences, life sciences, natural resources, or social sciences.
The audience for this interactive digital product includes prospective students, teachers of prospective students, and parents of prospective students. Within the prospective student audience are middle and high school students, students at other institutions who wish to transfer to UF, current students at UF looking to discover their major, and non-traditional students wanting to earn their bachelor’s degree.
The CALS Majors Quiz was promoted through a $500 Facebook and Instagram ad campaign targeting 13-to-18-year-olds in the regions of Pensacola, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Miami during two weeks in September when students would be applying to colleges. Organic social media posts were also shared throughout the year across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
A press release was developed with the inclusion of a narrative of a student who used the CALS Majors Quiz to find her major and enroll in the college the same year. The press release was distributed to Florida’s regional urban markets, with specific emphasis on the Miami/South Florida area, to showcase the majors and their career possibilities to students in these areas who may not know the breadth and depth of the college’s opportunities.
The CALS Majors Quiz was also promoted by word-of-mouth during freshmen orientation sessions over the summer as well as in other in-person, academic advisor, parent, and class tours/presentations with college representatives. CALS has a recruiter/advisor located in the Miami area who also shares the majors quiz with the students at community colleges he meets with and advises.
Many UF/IFAS buildings have digital monitors in the hallways to display information. A graphic was used to fit these spaces and shared with the communicators and internet technology directors who manage these digital displays.
In addition to a weekly email made by UF for all students, the college sends a weekly email to its students. The CALS Majors Quiz was submitted and included in both of these weekly emails periodically throughout the year.
The CALS Majors Quiz launched in March 2019. From that time through December 2019, the Majors Quiz webpage received 4,689 visits and interactions. These visits account for more than 5% of the college’s total website visitors for 2019.
The CALS Majors Quiz received 368 link clicks from the Facebook/Instagram ads. The quiz reached more than 25,000 people with a total of nearly 80,000 impressions. The cost per link click was $1.36, and 90% of the ads budget was spent on 13-to-17-year-olds. The college has plans to launch another ad campaign during March after the university admissions decisions come out. These ads will target admitted students to the college over the course of two weeks in order to encourage them to confirm their admission to UF with a major in CALS.
The press release was picked up in several Florida media markets, including the Tallahassee Democrat, the news outlet stationed in the town of UF’s biggest in-state rival, Florida State University.
The student featured in the press release said: “The quiz helped me steer my focus to a specific major. In the back of my mind I always loved wildlife. Now my dream is to own and manage a wildlife rehabilitation center.” The student now studies wildlife ecology and conservation in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. This interaction was facilitated by the CALS South Florida student recruiter/advisor.
The college’s departments and units have shared the quiz with new, current, and prospective students throughout the year through social media, digital signage, and word-of-mouth.
The college has plans to incorporate the quiz into its 2020 freshmen admissions promotions plan once the university’s admissions decisions have gone out on Feb. 28, such as through social media posts, emails to admitted students to the college, and in-person visits.