Why You’re Losing Student Enrollment to Your Competition

It’s probably safe to say that one of the primary business goals of any institution of higher education is to increase enrollment and retention rates. After all, as a business, your students are your customers. Being able to continuously attract your ideal student is not only paramount to your growth, it’s what affords you the ability to empower the next generation of professionals and leaders.

The world of higher academics has always been a competitive one, but perhaps never more so than it is right now. New and emerging technology and online program options continue to disrupt the way current and future students acquire the necessary skills needed for their professions.

So, what can you do to boost enrollment and prevent losing ideal students to your competition? Here are seven ways to secure your enrollment numbers for the coming years.

7 Ways to Secure Student Enrollment Numbers

1. Embrace Technology

From your website to your application process through how students communicate with professors and access student services, embrace technologies that make everything run more efficiently and cohesively. Any college or university that is trapped in the dark ages and not technologically sophisticated runs the risk of losing out to its competition. Providing a leading and innovative education requires the technology that your students are accustomed to and will encounter outside the rich history of your institution.

2. Enhance Online Learning Capabilities

The traditional classroom setting is still alive and well, but it has a necessary counterpart that makes it possible for students to stay on track and complete their degrees with the added flexibility that is required by today’s students. Online learning doesn’t replace the in-person setting, it simply complements it by offering certain classes or programs in a different way. Online learning accommodates the changing needs and expectations of students.

3. Create Quality Experiences

To sustain your enrollment numbers, be sure your campus delivers memorable and quality experiences. Think Disneyland, but smaller. What is the experience you want students to have and contribute to on campus? Then be sure you’re doing everything possible to deliver on those experiences at every possible opportunity.

4. Personalize the Campus for Your Students

One such way to create quality experiences is to personalize the student experience whenever possible. Students don’t want to feel like a number or a cog in the wheel. They want to feel valued and part of something special. Therefore, take the time to create spaces that meet the current needs of your students. Personalize communications so that they feel known and understood. A generalized experience just doesn’t have the same sticky and lasting quality of a personalized one.

5. Prioritize Education and Staff

Let’s not forget about the “product” itself: the education and those providing it! Some colleges and universities have made the mistake of cutting the pay, tenure opportunities, or requirements of its staff. Of all the ways to save money, reducing the quality of the education or your educators is not a smart play.

6. Inspire Advocacy

Your most effective marketing efforts will be spent on creating advocates for your institution. Alumni and donor relations are necessary avenues to build and help inspire advocacy for your institution. Nothing is more powerful than word-of-mouth from a trusted source. Therefore, give students, former students, and the public a reason to care about your institution and talk about it positively with the people they know. A good name and reputation only makes your institution more sought after and desirable by future generations.

7. Don’t Underestimate Your Auxiliary Services

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power your auxiliary services have to tip student enrollment numbers in your favor. In our business here at Touchwork, we work directly with auxiliary services from dining halls to self-service kiosks to enhance the student experience by collecting and reporting on real-time feedback. What we have learned in the nearly twenty years we’ve been in business is that these student services are what equally matched higher education institutions can and do compete on. The services you offer on-campus create an impression, instantly, when potential students tour your campus and they are the services that help make day-to-day life on campus memorable to your treasured alumni.

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About the author

Johann Leitner is the founder and president of Touchwork, a marketing management software company.