It's been tough going for college enrollment managers. A series of recessions, changing attitudes and rising costs, have led to a decline in enrollment.
Despite the increase of students pursuing a college educations, getting students to enroll in your college is tougher than ever. But these 5 tips to increase student enrollment should help.
Enrollment rates are not expected to increase for many years yet. Even when they do increase, we can expect that the demographics of college-going students will have shifted gears.
With more competition than ever, colleges need creative ways to increase student enrollment. The main thing to keep in mind when following these tips for increasing student enrollment is the students themselves. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
Remember how stressful that time was in your life. This will help understand the difficulties they're facing as they navigate through one of the major steps towards adulthood.
1. Get on Social Media
We're going to assume that your college already has a website, so we'll move on to social media. It's not enough to set up a profile on Facebook and post the occasional update about the admissions process.
You need to be active on the social media platforms that are popular with high school students. Right now, the two most popular social media networks for teenagers in the United States are Instagram and Snapchat.
It's still helpful to have an account on Facebook. Students can post questions about the school or the application process. You also need accounts on the networks that are more popular with students.
This may sound daunting if you're not familiar with these platforms. But take advantage of the resources at your fingertips! Reach out to the marketing or media students at your school to find students to manage social media for you.
Prospective students will love the authenticity of social media content that comes from the horse's mouth, so to speak. They will appreciate that colleges are showing them an authentic look at the school.
2. Create Virtual Tours
The college touring trip was once almost a rite of passage for American high schoolers and their parents but this is no longer the case.
There are many high school students who are juggling many responsibilities. Along with their scholarly commitments, they have jobs and extracurriculars as well. In fact, students take on these commitments to save for college or improve their chances of gaining entrance.
Other students cannot afford to book flights or trains across the country to every school they want to visit. Finally, adult learners may be unable to take the time off work to visit college campuses.
That doesn't mean that these prospective students don't want to see the campus and get a feel for campus life.
With virtual tours of your college, high school students can explore the campuses from home. If you have the resources, you can also create a mobile app for your college.
With these apps, students have one central location to learn more about the school. Use it as an opportunity to post articles about events or stories about former students.
These apps are an excellent tool to create a rich image of what students can expect if they attend that school by including articles about the school, events run by campus societies and more.
3. Simplify the Application Process
A complex application process that requires a desktop computer creates a barrier for many students from low-income families.
By creating a mobile application platform, you're making sure that the 20% of low-income families who have smartphones rather than computers can still easily apply to your college.
If you've already created an app for your college, this is as easy as adding in another section for applications. Since students submit applications electronically anyways, you can create a form where students can upload their paperwork, transcripts and more.
Creating this interface will help increase the number of accepted students who enroll at your college as well. When students see that they can monitor their application status, pay their tuition and sign up for classes all in one place, they can feel confident that the university knows how to address their needs.
4. Set Up a Reminder System
Students have about a million things going on at once. From planning graduating parties to researching colleges, not to mention finishing assignments, there is a lot to keep track of.
Set up a reminder system that gives prospective students a heads up when deadlines are approaching. Again, this is useful not just during the application process but when students are in the process of deciding which college to enroll at.
Even once students have enrolled with your school, maintain the reminder system so that you can keep them informed about class-drop deadlines, applying for extracurriculars like co-op or other deadlines.
5. Be Upfront About Financial Aid
One of the biggest barriers for students wanting to attend private colleges is whether or not they can afford the tuition and living costs of attending that school. If students don't think they can afford to attend a school, they won't even bother applying let alone choosing to enroll.
Dedicate a section of your website to clearly outlining the costs of attending your college. Build a calculator and Include as many variables as you can. This should include everything from on-campus housing and meal plans to off-campus housing and the costs of transportation.
Speak to your admissions office about including academic scholarship information with prospective students' acceptance letters. This will give them the tools they need to decide whether or not they can afford to enroll at your school. That said, be wary of front-loading scholarship offers which remove the incentive for students to continue attending your college.
There Are Still Many Students Enrolling in College
While the situation can seem dire when the percentage of students enrolling in college is decreasing year after year, that doesn't mean that there aren't still students who are going. In order to find success in increasing student enrollment, you need to get a strong understanding of the changing dynamics of future generations of college students.
Looking for more solutions? At Student Bridge, we have over a decade of helping colleges improve their enrollment and retention rates. Contact us today to learn about how we can help you use digital marketing and data analytics to improve your enrollment numbers.