College enrollment took a significant hit in 2020-2021. The latest findings from NSCRC reveal that this spring’s overall college enrollment fell to 16.9 million students from 17.5 million, marking a one-year decline of 3.5 percent, or 603,000 students–seven times worse than the decline a year earlier.
While the pandemic created a greater enrollment dearth for many colleges and universities, some schools had record years in recruitment and admissions numbers. From small, liberal arts colleges to the preeminent HBCU, these institutions had one thing in common: the use of data and AI to personalize, promote, and propel student recruitment.
Today, higher-ed admissions and enrollment professions are steeped in data, and the ability to interpret and apply that data for the purposes of short-term and long-range strategic enrollment planning has become fundamental for success. Recently, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers identified data analytics as a core competency.
By embracing analytics around student behavior and AI that can predict intent, modern admissions teams are discovering how to be agile, create a personalized approach, and stay one step ahead of their candidates’ needs.
Embrace an agile mindset
Traditionally used in software development settings, an agile approach requires a set of methods and practices where solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.
Today, every company (and higher-ed institutions are no exception) is working in the era of disruption. If an organization is struggling to adopt an agile approach, then it is likely falling behind. According to McKinsey & Company, marketing organizations saw revenue uplifts of 20 to 40 percent after adopting agile techniques.
In a higher education setting, adopting agile as part of a student recruitment strategy might begin by creating a single team with talent drawn across multiple departments such as IT, marketing, admissions, enrollment operations, as well as data and institutional research teams. Including members from various functional teams breaks down operational silos and ensures different viewpoints are considered to tackle and solve problems.