Students weigh in on the application and enrollment process and offer insight into how university practices impact the student experience.

3 opportunities for your institution to better serve students


In a new survey, students weigh in on the application and enrollment process and offer insight into how university practices impact their decisions

Nearly half of students say they doubt their ability to succeed in college when enrolling, according to a survey on the student experience from education provider Anthology.

The survey, Student Feedback Informs Admissions and Enrollment Strategies, highlights the experience of U.S. college students during the admissions and enrollment process.

The survey also identifies student priorities and concerns when determining whether to apply to a U.S. institution. The results reveal strategies that institutions can implement to attract more applicants and deliver a better student experience. 

Key findings of the survey include: 

  • More than 60% of respondents relied on internet searches and institutions’ websites for information about institutions and their academic programs, with only 17% relying on guidance counselors 
  • 48% of student respondents doubted their ability to succeed in college when enrolling
  • 32% of respondents rated the availability of online courses as either the most important or second most important element when researching potential universities
  • 40% of respondents indicated that the enrollment process would have been easier if there was an advisor to speak with to help answer questions

How Students Source Information on Universities

When it comes to attracting applicants, nearly two-thirds (63%) of responding students indicated that they use the university’s website as the first channel to gather information about university applications.

Recommendation: It is critical for institutions to ensure their website is engaging, easy to use, and geared toward prospective students.

Communication During Application Process 

Communication is imperative during the application process as the majority (67%) of respondents stated that clear steps and requirements for the application and admissions process would be most helpful in their enrollment journey compared to other information. As for the method of communication, 65% of respondents prefer communications during the application and enrollment process through email and 52% prefer phone calls.

Recommendation: Institutions should review each part of the enrollment funnel to bring communication in line with students’ expectations and provide additional, personalized support. The application should not be where communication stops, as the majority of respondents are interested in continued communication with the university even after submitting their application. 

Ability to Succeed, Modality and Cost Affect Enrollment

In addition to tuition cost as a major component in determining enrollment, 60% of students said that the current economy is a factor in not considering or continuing university enrollment. The survey also revealed that application fees can be a barrier to enrollment, with one-third of students (32%) stating they would be more likely to apply to a school with no application fee. Class delivery modality also impacts enrollment with just 16% of respondents more inclined to select a fully in-person program, while 41% and 34% are more inclined to select a hybrid or fully online program, respectively. Finally, nearly half of respondents (48%) are concerned about their ability to succeed in college when applying.

RecommendationsTo combat cost concerns, financial aid information is crucial to the enrollment process, with 58% of students reporting that this type of information is imperative while applying, even after admission. In addition, institutions should consider offering tuition reductions, as 51% of students said that individual tuition discounts (rather than an overall decrease in tuition) would impact their likelihood of attending a university. 

Sixty-nine percent of respondents indicated that their career outlook and options are very important when determining what university to attend. Institutions should spotlight the value of degrees and the career outcomes they lead to on the university website and in communications to students and continue to communicate with students after they apply to build connection. 

“In an environment where enrollment yields are under pressure, institutions have to be intentional about the application and enrollment process, engaging students along their journey proactively, providing the support they need and demonstrating the value of a degree,” said Jim Milton, Chairman and CEO at Anthology. “This survey lays out critical steps institutions can take to align the admission and enrollment process to fit shifting expectations and ultimately build more durable relationships between schools and perspective students.”

This press release originally appeared online.

Related:
How 11 community colleges boosted minority male success and retention

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Laura Ascione
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