As another year draws to a close, it is undeniable that COVID-19 has fundamentally disrupted the higher ed landscape in more ways than one. Student demands and preferences have shifted in various directions, as have the roles of marketing, messaging, and enrollment activities. In EducationDynamics’ latest report, Survey of the Higher Ed Landscape, we uncover how higher ed institutions will now have to pivot their approach and find new thoughtful and strategic ways of pursuing a shrinking pool of potential students.
Some of these fundamental changes are not surprising. In fact, things like affordability and flexible scheduling have long since been a part of the future of higher education’s bigger goal of focusing on enhanced student services and overall experiences. On the other hand, some of these shifts were more surprising and disruptive, giving us some great insight into just how much the overall landscape has transformed.
Perhaps the most surprising trend to emerge was the shift in enrollment activity. The longstanding correlation between economic downturns and increased enrollment rates is no longer. So far, the impact of this pandemic translates into more robust graduate program enrollments and much weaker undergraduate enrollments. This will prove to be one of the most important trends to emerge from the last couple of years. How institutions focus their marketing efforts will have to dramatically shift in order to stay competitive in this new landscape.
Colleges and Universities can benefit significantly from a better understanding of the social, economic, and environmental factors impacting the higher ed landscape. The reality of today’s students is that their demands not only include flexibility and affordability but a better understanding of their overall career and education goals. As the growing costs of higher education begin to move degrees more into the category of “luxury goods”, institutions have immense opportunities to tailor programs to remain competitive as the pool of potential students continues to shrink.
In time, the economy and our related higher education ecosystem will stabilize into a “new reality.” In an increasingly complex and competitive environment, the most successful schools will understand the landscape and external factors driving student behavior and adjust their approach accordingly. When it comes to meeting enrollment and retention goals, having a good understanding of the state of higher education and focusing on student needs and demands remains the key to success.
Interested in learning more about the Survey of the Enrollment Management Landscape? Download the report and learn more about trends in adult and non-traditional student enrollments.
EducationDynamics is the industry leader in helping colleges and universities achieve their enrollment goals through the company’s unique ability to find the highest quality adult student prospects. As the trusted partner to more than 500 higher educational institutions, EducationDynamics has earned a reputation for providing the resources and expertise required to meet a wide range of industry challenges, delivering inquiry generation and agency of record marketing (e.g. paid digital, organic search, awareness), enrollment management, retention, and technology solutions to universities across the country. For more information, connect with our experts.