Many enrollment leaders are reporting terrific application rates for fall 2021, which is certainly welcome news. Campus enrollment numbers look promising for a number of reasons, primary among them:
- Campuses are planning to open this fall with in-person learning as an option — highly desirable after this past year’s Zoom school.
- Prospective students look like they will find summer jobs (unlike last year), suggesting they can afford to return to university.
However, there is plenty we do not know as we write this post in early May 2021.
Where India looked like they had successfully kept COVID-19 at bay, more recently, the country has become inundated. As of this writing, many areas of Canada are taking significant precautions to stem the spread. Here in the US, there is a common expectation that the country is on a positive trajectory with regard to the pandemic, and yet, India and Canada thought they were in the clear not too long ago. Our point: the future is murky.
With ambiguity, comes fear and inaction for some; for others, opportunity.
Let’s assume that as summer 2021 hits, your enrollment numbers are not where they should be. Budget dollars are extremely tight. And yet, growth is demanded. What to do?
Often (more often than we all care to admit and especially in times of crisis like we’ve experienced in the past year), we are approached by academic leaders from institutions around the world who are desperate and seeking student recruiting advice.
More often than not, institutions are hung up on the common challenges of people, tools, and budget. This is true of most service industries (and, in fact, product driven industries as well). There is no lack of ideas and opportunities. The only thing holding them back is the difficulty of aligning the team (people) and willingness to risk the funds (because there are no guarantees of success).
Note, an A-level team with B- or C-level tools will still crush it. B-level team with A-level tools? Not so much.
Back in 2018, we published a two-part “Mistakes of the Desperate” series, discussing the all-too-common mistakes we witness academic leaders making as they navigate enrollment challenges. Those who have been in the industry for a number of years have seen this state of affairs at different times: the pressure to produce without the time and resources to do it right. And looking back at those times, we all know what the result was: ineffective and disappointing.
In this particularly dynamic time for student enrollment and with so much ambiguity around what will happen next, we think this series deserves a second look as your team gears up for the next recruiting cycle.
And for additional resources for your team navigating this challenging year, we hope you will tune it for our two sessions at the upcoming annual NAFSA (virtual) conference in June:
- Achieving Global Agility: The Flexibility of Global Campus Options on the value of global campuses and how to implement them in a nimble, flexible way (presenters: Intead with Seamus Harreys from CIEE and Ita Duron from Massachusetts College of Health and Pharmacy Sciences University); and
- Going from 0-60: Internationalization about the challenges and successes of taking your university’s internationalization efforts to the next level (presenters: Intead with David DiMaria from University of Maryland, Baltimore County).
Read on for three common mistakes academic leaders make when desperately trying to improve student enrollment numbers and how your institution can avoid them.