For so many institutions across the country, the demographic, or enrollment, cliff coupled with a decrease in demand for a higher education has made declining enrollment and fierce competition for students the market norm. As college recruitment professionals, you are also facing significant shifts in student search, big changes in federal financial aid, growing cost concerns among families, the massive digital transformation in student recruiting and much more.
With all the cliffs and seismic shifts, the current student recruitment landscape is nothing if it is not treacherous. Here are 10 key points to understanding it:
- Stiff Competition: Higher education institutions face intense competition to attract and enroll students. It’s never been more important for you to differentiate your college or university and effectively communicate your value proposition to prospective students.
- Shifting Demographics: The traditional college-age population is declining in some regions, leading to increased efforts to attract non-traditional students, such as adult learners and international students. You must focus on specific demographics based on factors like age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geographic location.
- Digital Transformation: Technology has never played a more vital role in recruitment. Digital marketing, interactive websites, social media, and online platforms are now the most common and effective ways to engage with students and provide information about programs, campus life, and resources.
- Personalization and Customization: Generation Z expects personalized experiences. You must tailor your recruitment efforts to cater to individual needs and interests. This includes personalized communication and targeted messaging about program offerings that align with career aspirations and goals.
- Data-Driven Approach: Universities are increasingly using data analytics to inform their recruitment strategies. By analyzing data on prospective students’ demographics, preferences, and behavior, you can refine your messaging and target the right audience more effectively.
- Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion: Diversity and inclusion is a priority for both prospective students and the universities they want to attend. Institutions are actively working to create inclusive environments and recruit students from diverse backgrounds. Your recruitment strategies may include targeted outreach, scholarship programs, and partnerships with organizations focused on underrepresented groups.
- Globalization of Higher Education: International student recruitment is a significant aspect of the higher education landscape. Colleges and universities compete globally to attract international students, who bring diverse perspectives and contribute to campus diversity. International partnerships, recruitment agents, and targeted marketing campaigns are common strategies used to attract international students.
- Rising Cost Concerns: Affordability and the return on investment (ROI) of a college education are significant considerations for prospective students and their families. Institutions must address these concerns by providing transparent information about costs, scholarships, financial aid options, and the value of their programs in terms of career prospects.
- Evolving Communication Channels: Gen Z students today have multiple communication preferences. Adapting to evolving communication trends and preferences is crucial for effective recruitment. You need to engage with prospective students through various channels, including social media platforms, instant messaging apps, email, phone, and in-person interactions.
- Recruitment and Retention Connection: Retaining enrolled students not only contributes to their success but also positively impacts the university’s reputation and future recruitment efforts. Your university must focus on providing academic and social support services to ensure students thrive and persist through graduation.
For the past 10 years, the college recruitment landscape has experienced exponential change. By adapting and effectively communicating your university’s value, you can manage the terrain by attracting and enrolling students who will thrive on your campus.
By Kevin Hyde, Senior Content Manager, Capture Higher Ed