Find out how you can help counter decreasing college enrollment statistics with these strategies.
Trends in higher education are continuously changing for many reasons such as shifts in the economy, the job market, politics and digital enhancements. From year to year we see trends that have drastically impacted college enrollment statistics. As a marketer, what can we do to make sure that our university’s enrollment metrics continue to stay strong while others are decreasing?
What’s Happening with College Enrollment Statistics?
Recently we have seen high school graduation metrics higher than ever, but we are seeing decreases in college enrollment numbers, so where are all the high school grads going?
Student Enrollment is Decreasing
We have always seen fluctuations in student enrollment, but it usually continues to increase. Recently, we have been seeing the opposite, and this is very apparent when discussing community college enrollment. With a rebounding economy, we are seeing declining student enrollment as the U.S. labor market is luring millennials back into the workforce. With more skill based, trade and labor positions available, many high school graduates are opting to enter trade professions instead of enrolling in college.
We Are No Longer In a Recession
When the recession hit, there were little to no jobs available. This encouraged students to stay in school as long as they could in hopes of gaining secure and stable jobs. Now we correlate staying in school for a longer amount of time with a higher amount of student loan debt. As we continue to see increases in college tuition, more students are leaning towards alternative options to keep themselves debt free.
Colleges Aren’t Diversifying Their Degree Programs
Many schools offering trade and skill-based programs are seeing steady declines in their enrollment numbers too. This is mainly where community colleges are seeing a big hit. When an individual graduates from high school, they have the choice to go to college or go to work in a trade profession. Most universities that offer programs that specialize in skill-based work, aren’t worthwhile for the students. With the price of college, most individuals aren’t seeing a high enough ROI to continue their education to enter a trade profession when they could do so straight out of high school or just attend vocational school instead and make close to equally as much.
As Higher Ed Marketers, What Can We Do?
Target Qualified Prospective Students
Creating content that truly resonates with your prospective students and helps bring awareness to your pool of qualified leads. This is why we do social media marketing for higher education institutions in the first place. Maybe it’s time to get a better look into which type of students you are trying to target and why. Students need to be nurtured and given access to the beneficial information that will help them decide that enrolling in your university is the best choice for them.
Do Your Research
Student enrollment numbers are changing and this might mean that your approach has to change too. Create measurement plans that are solidified on hard data. This will help you determine the areas that need improvement going forward. You might see that certain student enrollment numbers are dipping depending on the degree, but as a marketer you have to think about what that specific degree program can offer a student in today’s economy. You need to position the education that your school is providing as a weapon in the job market where students will see an ROI on their continued education.
Increase Your Social Efforts
Where can you best access your potential class of newly enrolled students? On social, of course! As a marketer, this is the best time to revisit what you know about the student’s journey. Inform and guide students before, during and after their journey towards making the decision to enroll at your university.
In the end, you can’t change what impacts trends in college enrollment. You can change how students perceive the education that your university can provide for them. So remember to plan it out to back up all of your marketing efforts with solid data. College enrollment statistics might fluctuate from year to year, but with a strategic marketing plan in place, you can ensure that your university will still see significant growth when it comes to their enrollment numbers.
Hayley is a social media strategist at Incentric. When she’s not working or at the beach, you can usually find her dreaming about traveling back to Italy or all over the world for that matter.