Your Higher Education Marketing Link of the Week… DePaul University: Inquiry form starts small and grows large

Brief Inquiry Form Grows After You “Submit” Your Request

DePaul University Undergraduate Inquiry FormThe more dedicated a direct marketer you are, the more you are likely to follow the maxim that the shorter an inquiry form is, the more people will complete it. In other words, don’t ask a potential inquiry to give you any more information than what your recruitment plan needs to begin a contact.

Most college and university online inquiry form asks for more information that you see when the DePaul University form first opens. Complete the few lines you see here on mobile or desktop in only seconds. On most forms, hitting “Submit” means you are done. Sit back and view the automatic online response.

DePaul University takes a hybrid approach. The blessedly brief undergraduate form you first see asks for first and last name, email address, and birthdate. A last “I will be item” for student type curiously includes “Graduate student” along with four different undergrad choices. That’s it.

But that’s not it. After you hit “Submit” a new list of items appears and you are back in the more traditional world of undergraduate inquiry forms, with an additional 13 data bits to complete before you arrive at another “Submit” button, some required and some optional:

  • When do you plan to enroll?
  • Are you an international student?
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone number
  • Mobile number (granting permission to text)
  • Parent/Guardian email address
  • US military benefits
  • Gender
  • Ethnic background (6 choices)
  • Programs of interest (academic selection of major or college)
  • Previous school history (3 lines to complete)

But no high school code request. Maybe even better, no “How did you hear about us?” selection.

Does a hybrid version like this work better than an inquiry form that immediately presents a long list of items to complete? Without any comparative data, I’ll vote for “Yes, it does.” How many people fail to complete the additional requests after a first “Submit” click? I’ll have to ask.

On Mobile…

Google Test My Site gives this page a low 60/100 rating for Speed on mobile (and a  higher 81/100 if using a desktop computer) and a strong 93/100 for Mobile Friendliness after the content downloads.

Follow the Link of the Week

Visit an undergradaute inquiry form that takes an unusual hybrid approach to data collection when you arrive at the “Request Undergraduate Information” form at DePaul University.

Link of the Week Archive

Regular readers will notice that the Link of the Week selection now appear with my blog. To review initial 2016 selections and previous years visit the Link of the Week archive page.


  1. Excellent article, Bob. I have been arguing this for several years now…users, especially Gen Z, feels threatened and overwhelmed with seeing the full form. This “bite-size” approach is the way to go!

  2. Interesting article – I would be curious how the stats play out on this approach as my experience has indicated that conversion rates with this “surprise” approach aren’t significantly higher: for every student (who wouldn’t have started the form had it been shown in full length initially) that stuck with the form because they had already started it, there are others who abandon it after the fourth question, feeling “ambushed” by the sudden growth of the form (including some who would have filled out the full form had it not surprised them).

    A widespread Landing Page best-practice is to not surprise the user with additional questions that they weren’t expecting, so my normal approach has been to start with a short form (4-7 Questions) that captures the student’s basic contact info and leads the student into a personal site (such as those generated by our EMP platform) where additional secondary forms, on any range of topics, can be completed as the student seeks more information from the school.

    Additionally, with the above form, any students that drop off when the form expands after the first four questions are lost – the school could have gained their name and email as a basic lead if they approached this with a multi-form approach instead of a single form. But if the overall conversion rates are much higher, then that’s a price worth paying for greater volumes of more qualified leads – I’d love to see if anyone has any metrics to share on the subject.

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