The fundamental nature of post-secondary education recruiting is changing significantly and enrollment management departments need to start preparing for those changes now.
First, the pool of eligible students is predicted to decline in the immediate future. The graduating high school classes from 2017 through 2023 will all produce fewer graduating seniors than the peak of 2013.
In addition, the demographics of those graduating classes are shifting. For example, the number of graduating Hispanic students is predicted to increase by more than 50 percent by 2025, while Caucasian students will decline by 14 percent by 2030.
Second, changes in the world of work are accelerating. Rapid technological advancement and increasing automation are changing the labor market, meaning that in order for employees to remain competitive, knowledge and skills require constant updating. Rather than being willing to invest in training new graduates, employers are increasingly looking for students who come “pre-programmed” with usable skills. Because of this, graduates expect to be immediately marketable in order to repay their student loan debts.
Opportunities and Challenges for Admissions
These changes will present post-secondary institutions with both opportunities and challenges.
For example, admissions officers will need to expand the reach of their current recruiting efforts and will also need to target their messaging to different groups. In addition, since new enrollees will be harder to come by due to increased acquisition costs, admissions officers should consider partnering with their institutions’ counseling functions to develop strategies to ensure that the students they recruit have the proper support to graduate.
Likewise, institutions will need to be able to produce graduates who have marketable skills and the ability to continually update their skillsets. To this end, post secondary institutions should be prepared to offer post-graduation certification classes to ensure that their graduates are able to obtain new skills to address evolving market demands.
The good news for admissions departments is that there are new tools available to help recruit and retain qualified students as well as partnership opportunities that can expand an institution’s offerings to better address changing demand-side needs in the labor market.