The Future of College Admissions and Enrollment: Trends and Challenges

Last updated on: July 20, 2023

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No one is able to predict exactly what the admissions and enrollment field will look like in the future. However, we can study and analyze recent historical trends and current events to predict what steps should be taken to prepare for impending changes.

Below is a compilation from the Enrollment Management Report of projected challenges and trends likely to impact the role of admissions officers going forward, as well as suggestions for addressing them.

Current Enrollment Challenges Expected to Continue Into the Near Future:

  • Difficulty Achieving Enrollment Targets: according to a study from The Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 40 percent of admissions officers reported struggles to meet fall enrollment goals by May 2016. This isn’t likely to change any time soon.
  • Increasing Consumer Scrutiny: more people are asking the question: “Is college worth it?” and are highly concerned and focused on the return on investment a college education provides.
  • Concerns about Student Debt: many prospective students are anxious about taking on student debt, which is driving away potential applicants.
  • Oversaturation of Traditional Marketing: prospective students are receiving extensive print and digital communications from many different colleges. This can be overwhelming for the student and ineffective for the school.
  • Time Spent Training New Hires Due to Staff Turnover: admissions offices often see rapid staff turnover, making ramping up new hires and reestablishing outside relationships a costly and time-consuming investment.

How to Meet Enrollment Goals in the Future:

  • Focus on Underserved Students: data from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education projects that enrollments will decline through the graduating class of 2022. Admissions officers should consider doing more outreach to underserved student populations, as there is still enormous opportunity there.
  • Embrace National Demographic Shifts: there are three major demographic changes happening in the US: growing economic divisions, uneven geographic growth, and increasing racial diversity. Admissions officers should consider increasing their institutional diversity in all three categories by recruiting out-of-state students who fit these profiles.
  • Re-evaluate Success Measurements: the typical ways admissions success is measured won’t be as effective in the future. Admissions officers should focus on better analyzing the “multi-touches” that happen throughout the lifecycle of a prospective student to identify what in the student recruitment strategy is working.

To meet your college’s enrollment goals and find the candidates who are the best fit for your campus, it’s important to take account of these trends and challenges. To see more challenges and recommendations, read the full article from Enrollment Management Report here.

For more insights and predictions on the ways current trends may impact higher education, visit our Resources page.

Subscribe today to Enrollment Management Report for proven solutions to admit, recruit, and retain high quality students.

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