4 Predictions for Graduate Enrollment Professionals in 2021

Recently, I was asked to provide my thoughts on 2021, and what this year would bring for graduate enrollment management (GEM) professionals. I chuckled in response because I had an instant flashback to January 2020 when I was asked the same questions about that auspicious year.   

Well, like everyone else, I was way off.   

During the summer of 2020, I was asked to reevaluate my 2020 predictions. I remember telling myself that I was done giving predictions. And yet, here I am gazing through my crystal ball. Here is what I see  

1. Applications for graduate admission will increase. 

The economy is struggling. We have already seen increases in interest for graduate education. As it becomes clearer that a rapid economic rebound will level out to a slower recovery, people will do what they always do during a sluggish economyretrain, retool, up-knowledge and up-skill. Formalized graduate credentialing is an excellent way to accomplish all of the above; hence, we will see increased admissions activity. 

2. International student applications will level out and begin their comeback. 

As vaccination programs loosen travel restrictions, it is only natural for pent-up demand among prospective international students to manifest itself through increased applications. Policy revisions by the Biden administration that will roll back some Trump era regulations governing student visa issuance allowing for greater access to American higher education for students abroad. 

3. An increase in the adoption of holistic admission. 

Standardized testing took quite a bashing in 2020 as there was increased focus on potential bias in enrollment practices. Admissions processes that attempt to get a full picture of an applicant are ascendent. Smart, holistic admissions protocols use standardized tests like the GRE as a tool to evaluate the readiness of a candidate without creating a results-based cutoff. These processes allow for tests like the GRE to be used as a complement to other materials serving to “screen-in” an applicant rather than “screen-out.

4. GEM professionals will work hard and feel stress. 

5. GEM professionals will do great things with fewer resources. 

I suppose Prediction #4 and #5 go hand-in-hand. 2020 was stressful! It caused us to change just about everything. 2021 will tease us most of the year with the idea that things will at some point return to “normal.” I suppose to some degree, they will. But our 2021 normal will find institutions more cash strapped with perhaps fewer people employed on our enrollment offices. This means Graduate Enrollment Professionals will be called upon to do something we’re pretty used to doingdo more with less. I suppose in that regard, 2021 will be just like any other year. And knowing GEM professionals the way I do; great things will be achieved with fewer resources.  

As always, my colleagues and I at Capture stand at the ready to serve as an extension of your team. As the work becomes a bit too hard; the stress a bit too heavy; know that we are here to provide a suite of services in support of your 2021 goals.   

By Jack Klett, Director of Graduate & Online Initiatives, Capture