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The New Enrollment Practice: Positive Impact for the Future

by | Jun 8, 2021 | All Topics, Eduventures Summit, Traditional Student Demand

The New Enrollment Practice: Positive Impact for the Future

We’re beginning to see the light. After more than a year of turmoil and uncertainty, the outlook for traditional undergraduate admissions is beginning to brighten. But it’s still unclear exactly what the new practice of enrollment will look like post-pandemic.

There is no doubt that the future will not look like the past; 100% of institutions responding to a recent Eduventures survey said they will keep key changes in enrollment practices made this past year. As we look to the future, which COVID-related enrollment practices will last and which will fade away?

Students and Institutions Physically Disconnected

One fundamental feature of the new environment has been the distancing of the relationship between students and schools in college searches. But schools and students were both quick to adapt to new circumstances. Figure 1 shows the best events for narrowing down your list of schools, according to high school juniors. It compares responses gathered prior to COVID-19 (in 2019) to those gathered during the pandemic experience in 2020 and 2021.

 

Best Events for Narrowing Down Your List of Schools – Juniors in High SchoolFigure 1.

 

While the campus visit is still the most preferred type of event, it’s clear that pragmatic students judged virtual events to be a pretty good substitute when the campus visit was unavailable. Institutions around the country also noted the move to virtual events as largely successful for them in solving not only COVID-related problems, but also access-related problems that existed prior to the pandemic.

Figure 2 shows the COVID adaptations that institutions believe they will keep in their admissions practices once the pandemic has waned.

 

COVID Adaptations Institutions Will Keep Beyond the PandemicFigure 2.

 

Hybrid events, both campus-based and virtual, will broaden access to all kinds of students for events like campus visits, admitted student days, orientations, and interviews. This is just one example of the key learnings of the COVID era for enrollment and admissions professionals – in fact, it’s the most obvious learning. The move to test-optional admissions is another important area where institutions will continue to implement new admissions policies.

But there are, of course, many other less obvious, but equally important, learnings from the COVID era that will inform the new enrollment practices. In my Summit presentation on June 16, I’ll outline a number of characteristics that I believe should define how institutions move into the next era of undergraduate enrollment. Principally, I’ll break these characteristics into two categories:

  • Threshold Characteristics. These are the characteristics that make up the revised “price of entry” for a modern enrollment practice. If you are not doing these things, students will consider you behind the times in your outreach and interactions—you’ll simply have trouble reaching the market.
  • Next-Level Characteristics. These are the characteristics that can not only help you enroll students, but also help students the most. This is where you can set your institution apart by tackling some of the big issues, hanging over undergraduate admissions, head on with the needs and values of this generation as a north star.

Admissions and enrollment staff have been through so much in the last year just to keep the next class on track. Now it’s time to put the creativity and controlled chaos of all this work to good use in planning for the next five years of your institution’s enrollment success.

Register today for Eduventures Summit 2021 Virtual Research Summit on June 16, featuring an in-depth view of “The New Enrollment Practice” by today’s Wake Up Call author, Principal Analyst Kim Reid. Featured speakers include Ken Burns, celebrated documentary filmmaker; and Dr. Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and expert on student well-being who will discuss “The Mental Health Crisis in Higher Education.”

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Kim Reid

Eduventures Principal Analyst at ACT | NRCCUA
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