If you’re a school representative looking for strategies for increasing student enrollment at your institution, you may have been seeing a drop in new recruits in the last few years. Student enrollment is and should always be a top priority for schools that value student success. By turning weaknesses into strengths and beneficial , colleges and universities can improve their services and become more attractive to potential students when application season rolls around.
This article will outline why post-secondary education enrollments are on a steady decline and why schools must put methods in place to increase their enrollment rates. Additionally, we will provide some examples of practical measures that are sure to get more eyes on your institution and increase student enrollment.
Listen to the blog!
in the United States have shown that student enrollments in post-secondary education are dropping slowly, up to 4.1% total over the past year. This may not seem like a huge amount, but this percentage totals to about 685,000 students. If these numbers continue to decline, it could be detrimental for higher education institutions, especially smaller ones trying to raise their enrollment rates. It is a combination of many factors that influence these numbers, and they may not be immediately obvious at first glance, but there are a few hypotheses as to why there are less enrollments currently.
Less Necessity for Degrees
One of the biggest catalysts for this decline in student enrollments is that a lot of jobs and skills nowadays simply do not require a degree to accomplish successfully. A world of opportunity is now possible, especially over the internet. Online, people can watch videos about topics they would learn in school and gain access to tons of free information they can teach themselves with. Learning new software or accessing a lecture about business models is necessarily not restricted to the classroom anymore.
Stable employment opportunities are also much more available through the web or can be customer service-based, where less traditional schooling is necessary. Certain recent job options, which tend to make use of online or social media platforms, did not exist even a decade ago. As the employment landscape is constantly changing, colleges and universities must adapt and use their resources to recruit new students and highlight the benefits of higher education.
Too Big of a Time Commitment
Degrees take a long time to complete and, in the mind of a lot of young people, may not have as many benefits as trying to get work experience immediately after high school. When people enroll in a program at a college or university, they are often committing to several years of full-time study that not everyone can set aside. Even older workers who want to either get a degree for the first time or go back to school may not see higher education as a worthwhile investment time-wise. Completing a degree is not a decision to be taken lightly and this could one reason for why many people are losing interest in higher education.
There are already many debates surrounding the accessibility of higher education, particularly given its financial cost, but there are many prospective students who cannot even study if they wanted to because of financial stress. Enrolling in higher education temporarily lessens any financial security blanket with the promise of a better salary later on in their career, but that promise is not guaranteed and does not work for everybody. It may be too much of a risk for not enough payoff. Using the , schools must show prospective students why studying at their school will be beneficial to them. The school must also have the information, resources, and personnel to back up their claims.
When potential students are scoping out schools to apply to, there tend to be a lot of options, and it could seem overwhelming for them to make an executive decision about where to enroll. As stated previously, it is a big decision that could greatly impact their futures. While each individual student might look for unique qualities they require in a higher education institution, they all have something in common: they want a school that appeals to them. Your school must stand out to students for them to be interested. That is where student enrollment strategies come into play.
They Act as Marketing
If post-secondary education is seen as a business, student enrollment strategies are essentially the marketing tactics. You are communicating to future students and advertising what your school has to offer and why it should be their first choice. At its core, the increased level of student enrollment that stems from these strategies does mean more revenue and income for the university. It is partly, but not completely, a business decision to put the time and effort into student recruitment.
They Benefit Your Students
Beyond the financial aspect, the ultimate goal is student success. The thought process here is very similar to implementing the , as the funds that go into these measures will eventually come back tenfold when students enroll, persist in their program, and, finally, graduate. Therefore, institutions are ideally re-investing their income in new ways to make their school more appealing to current and future students, leading to greater satisfaction overall. The success and preparation of students for the workforce is the raison-d’être of a school. Recruitment and enrollment are the first steps to fulfilling that promise.
They Maintain Your School’s Reputation
Student enrollment strategies are also important for maintaining a school’s positive reputation. What students see and hear about your school is what they will think about your school. There are schools that get by based on their reputation alone, but those are few and far between. That said, effort must be put into spreading the positive word about your institution. There is no way to rely on word of mouth alone to inform students about your school and all its perks.
Recruitment strategies are meant to emphasize the key attributes of your school to as many people as possible, which will greatly affect your reputation. Getting down to the core of what makes your college or university special will kickstart how to approach the recruitment process next season. For instance, do you have popular business programs and courses? How do they compare to other schools in the area? Use that to your advantage to cater to potential business students looking for a place to begin their education. The more you promote it, the more your institution will become known for its business school. Every school has its strengths and effective student enrollment strategies are a steadfast way to transform those advantages into a good reputation.
Before implementing new strategies for your recruitment season, look at what you have already done in previous years to establish what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. If there are specific areas you need to improve, begin with strategies in those areas. Here are some places to start:
1. Tell your story in every medium you can
When a student is learning about your school for the first time, they may not necessarily remember every statistic or accomplishment your school has put forward. What will really stick with them is your story and what values your school holds dear. Every school has a story about its inception and its goals, no matter how old or young it may be. Having a clear mission statement for your school and a culture that you work hard to maintain is appealing to prospective students.
A student wants to study at an institution that represents their values and supports their education as a result. Relaying that story in a creative manner either online or at in-person recruitment events can make you memorable in the minds of potential applicants. Include this information on handouts you pass out during open houses or on an “About Us” or “Our Mission” page on your website. A catchy narrative that outlines your past as an institution and where you want to go is a great first step for schools looking to increase student enrollment.
2. Employ student ambassadors
Having a few student ambassadors to validate the positive experience at your institution could also be helpful in attracting new recruits. It is not only one of the best , but ambassadors can widely promote your institution to new audiences. Student ambassadors can essentially vouch for your school’s services, programs, and campus life. These representatives will greatly impact your viewership, especially with senior high school students interested in .
When prospective students see people they can relate to having a great time on your campus and speaking highly of their program, it will make them want to do the same. Not long ago, these students were in the same boat, and their perspective may resonate more with students looking to apply than those of older recruitment officers working for you. These student ambassadors could be volunteers, part-time workers, or interns in the university’s communications team. In today’s digital age, where many jobs have a social media component, students can receive professional experience using these platforms while also promoting their school to future applicants, so it is a useful opportunity for them as well.
As a higher education consulting firm working directly with students, BeMo has its own student who promote our services at their school while gaining part-time work experience. Ambassadors could also represent the school at in-person recruitment events to speak with interested students. Their pride in your institution acts as a positive review for your university that can sway students to apply.
3. Boost your social media presence
Your social media presence as an institution is crucial to recruitment, due to social media apps having a wide, immediate outreach to the target demographic you are trying to appeal to. These platforms are basically free resources you can use to market your school to prospective students, who are mainly in the perfect age range to be scrolling these platforms. Through posts and videos on , , and , you can show potential students what life is like on your campus, promote services, and illustrate what makes your school unique.
Student-generated content from your ambassadors, interns, or part-time workers will appeal to younger viewers looking for subject matter that represents their college life. You will want to make students excited to attend your school. Although you should only depict reality, you can still sell the fantasy of studying with you. Ensure that your posts are authentic and true to the experience of your institution, so that there is no disappointment from students coming in with the highest of expectations.
All in all, any improvement in your social media presence is a useful strategy for increasing the level of interest in your institution.
4. Freshen up your website often
As explained in the previous social media section, digital marketing is important for colleges and universities to appeal to a younger generation. Your school website is extremely important for student enrollment. Make sure the website is updated with current content and audited frequently to keep up with trends. It is important that all the available information you present on your website is clear and concise. Examples include the specific admission requirements for programs, procedures when applying to your school, blogs about campus life, scholarships, FAQ lists, as well as forums and discussion boards. These should be simple to find to give the most valuable experience to the user and help them get where they need to go smoothly.
A better UX design will also make it easier for students to surf various pages and apply to your school in as little time as possible. If prospective students need help, it should be obvious where they can reach out and contact you.
5. Don’t forget about graduate students
While most college or university student bodies are made up of undergraduate students, graduate students need some love too. Considering that there are , this is a great avenue for increasing student enrollment.
Graduate students are already familiar with college life and have different needs, so recruitment strategies that are solely designed to appeal to undergraduate-level applicants may not reach this unique group. Moreover, relying on word of mouth or retention of your own students will not increase your numbers. Finally, if graduating students don’t see a vibrant future at your institution, they may not apply to graduate education, and you may even lose students who may have wished to pursue a master’s, doctorate, MBA, or medical degree with your school.
Consequently, it’s important to consider the when evaluating the difference between attracting undergraduate and graduate students to your school. Graduate students often enroll in very specific programs, so the trick is to appeal to their research interests. Their goals are much narrower than those of undergraduates. Prospective graduate students are truly placing their futures, hopes, and dreams in your hands. They will be much pickier about where they continue their studies. Making sure your graduate programs are as developed as they can be and advertising them as such is a great enrollment strategy that may not be immediately evident when undergraduate admissions is so prevalent.
6. Offer career planning
A large selling point of colleges and universities is how they help students with their studies and prepare them for the world once they have graduated. Academic advising could also be one of the best and a place where students can receive guidance.
Schools also tend to partner with companies or organizations to provide internships and other opportunities for students to benefit from. Giving students co-op programs that can jumpstart their careers could be a life-changing opportunity, so it is important to advertise these perks if you have them. While attending your institution, students could also learn about the job application process, writing a CV, preparing for interviews, or even if that is where they are headed.
7. Offer financial aid
Making students aware early in the process what grants, scholarships, bursaries, and work/study programs they could apply for might pique their interest in your school if they are from an underprivileged background. Higher education can be exclusive and isolating for students who simply cannot afford it. Here at , we believe that every student should have the right to higher education, but unfortunately that is not the case for many reasons, including the financial limitations of schools.
When you let students know what possibilities exist for them at your school and send the message that they are welcome, they will be much more inclined to enroll.
8. Benefit from academic consulting services
Academic consulting services are a great recruitment strategy as a perk that will make your school stand out from others. When you partner with external resources, such as , your students can receive admissions support when preparing their applications for medical school, law school, pharmacy school, and other competitive programs. Students save time and money as they gain access to unlimited support and connect with coaches online through private video consultations.
Employees and advisors can also access professional development opportunities and additional training, which will allow them to do better with the students they support. All around, academic consulting will result in better performance rates and a higher chance of success for everyone on your campus. Offering these services will attract potential students and be a signature feature of your recruitment campaigns.
The list of potential strategies for increasing student enrollment is vast and not limited to the contents of this article. Increasing the number of students interested in your school depends on what strategies your school needs to reach its target audience.
If any aspect of recruitment is lacking at your institution, that is where your focus should go. Improving the services of your college or university will ultimately result in a more positive reputation and higher engagement with your school. Keeping the students you currently have happy and only wanting the best experience for them is what will produce the best recruitment results in the long run because you will be able to transmit those results to future matriculants.
Student success should be at the heart of every action you take as a higher education institution and increasing student enrollment is no exception.
1. My enrollment numbers are stable and not decreasing at the moment. Should I still worry about student enrollment strategies?
You should always be thinking about the future of your school and how to best market your institution. Just because your numbers are satisfactory right now does not mean they will stay that way. Updating and improving your recruitment strategies is one of the only ways to prevent this from happening.
2. How often should I update my enrollment strategies?
As often as you can. Every season, there could be a review of how the last period went, and the facets of enrollment that are lacking will need the greatest amount of attention. The more you tend to your enrollment strategies, the more effective they will be.
3. What kind of materials should I hand out to students during in-person events?
Some of the most effective hard copy materials include brochures, handouts, fact sheets, program descriptions, and more. These materials should tell the story of your institution and how the student will be a perfect fit due to their interests or values.
4. What do social media posts aimed at enrollment entail?
It technically depends on the platform, but Instagram and TikTok in particular tend to thrive on short, witty videos or beautiful photos. Posts that are quick and punchy will resonate the most with younger viewers. They could also come in the form of call-to-action posts or contests that will reward someone who likes and shares the post at random. These types of posts are meant to boost engagement and promote school spirit. Student ambassadors could make posts about their experience with your school. Videos of the campus will give an idea of what future students will be stepping into if they study with you. Your school does not have to look perfect but like a happy, productive environment that a student could see themselves in.
5. Should I view investing in student enrollment as a business decision?
Yes, but implementing enrollment strategies is not solely a business decision. Higher enrollment rates do mean increased funds for the university and will allow it to run, but the ultimate goal should be student success, at the end of the day. That is what will truly fulfill your school’s purpose. The extra money received from higher enrollment should go back into making the school the best it can be to continue that positive cycle.
6. What exactly is academic consulting?
Academic consultants are experts in admissions who will help your students plan and apply to tertiary education programs, namely medical school, law school, pharmacy school, MBA programs, and more. They could also help students with professional skills, such as interviews, writing, and career planning. Using an academic consulting service in partnership with your college or university will make a huge difference in your students’ motivation and is one of the best strategies for as well.
7. How do academic consulting services help with increasing student enrollment?
Coming into college or university, students can be anxious about their futures, especially if they already know they will need or guidance in terms of their education. Advertising that your institution will help students with their graduate school applications through an academic consulting service could be the difference between them choosing your school over another for further studies.
8. What is the next step after increasing student enrollment?
Student retention is also crucial to the success of any school and goes hand in hand with enrollment. Correctly implementing the in tandem with enrollment strategies will allow for the best results. Students will be excited to attend your school and will be satisfied as they study for multiple years. Grade averages and graduation rates will improve and so will the overall performance rate of the institution.