Enrollments Nationwide are Dropping: Will You Defy the Data?

Reading the headline on the Gray and Associates blog was pretty stunning at first: Inquiry Conversions for On-Campus Education Decline for 12 Straight Months. Understanding the bigger picture when it comes to current trends in Higher Education, the revelation that there had been a 12-month downward spiral in inquiry conversions, added an additional layer of concern to those of us who have an interest in and commitment to Higher Education.

Earlier this month, I had read that in the first quarter of 2016, Student Inquiries for Higher Education finished 9% below 2015. With a shallower pool of inquiries from which to enroll, the strategy was clear: maximize conversions by maximizing every prospective interaction. With the subsequent news that conversions have declined for on-campus education for 12 straight months, a sense of urgency is well warranted.

No sector of Higher Ed has been immune when it comes to these downward trends, but two sectors have felt the sharpest declines: Community Colleges and For-Profit institutions. Though the reasons vary, there is a common thread of concern for those entertaining the prospect of Higher Education through marketing;

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With more national discussion revolving around student debt and some students questioning the risk/reward factor of investing in a degree or certification, enrollments have stagnated and subsequently  declined steadily since the enrollment peak of 2010. As pointed out in the CNN Money article; College Enrollment is Dropping. Bad sign?, students are potentially giving up a significant benefit by opting out of a postsecondary education. “…College graduates make almost double the salary of workers with only a high school diploma. If you care about the rise in inequality in America, declining college enrollment should alarm you.”

With the reality of declining interest, conversions and enrollments, every Higher Education institution needs to consider a plan of action. As you coordinate a Marketing and Admissions strategy to overcome these industry trends, here are some key questions you should be asking:

  • Does my current higher ed education marketing messaging effectively convey the value of choosing my institution?
  • Am I using the right marketing platforms to reach the prospective students most likely to find value in my programs?
  • Do I have the proper technology measuring the effectiveness of my marketing spends and affiliated ROI?
  • Do I have the proper technology to best manage the enrollment funnel at my institution?
  • Is my Admissions Department properly prepared to maximize every student contact in order to improve conversions?
  • Is my Financial Aid department equipped to properly educate prospective students on grants, loans and managing the inevitable debt associated with matriculation?

MAC Services was created to provide Marketing and Admissions coaching to Higher Education institutions focused on achieving improved outcomes in generating student interest and facilitating a more effective Admissions experience which translates into improved conversion rates. Contact us today to discuss the current trends and find out more about how we can supplement your efforts to defy the data, while meeting and exceeding your enrollment goals.