According to the National Student Clearinghouse, enrollment in colleges and universities has dropped for five straight years. This is largely due to a decline in the birth rate, which has led to fewer 18- to 24-year-olds leaving high schools. The decline also has coincided with an even larger decrease in the number of college students older than 24, who have found their way back into the workforce due to an improved economy.
What does this mean?
There were 2.4 million fewer students enrolled in higher education nationally this past spring than there were in the fall of 2011, the most recent peak, reports the student clearinghouse.
A recent story in the Washington Post, which was written by Jon Marcus and produced by The Hechinger Report, outlines what one liberal arts college is doing to combat the challenge of falling enrollment in higher education. The story centers on Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, a 175-year-old private, liberal arts school with an enrollment of 1,700 undergraduates.
Some of their strategies include:
- Preparing new majors in high-demand fields, including data analytics and computational neural science
- Scouting prospective students in China, India and Pakistan
- Putting more money into financial aid
- Streamlining the process for transferring to the school
- Partnering with other universities to expand graduate school offerings
- Expanding internship programs and study-abroad opportunities
- Adding two new sports to their athletics department and a marching band
“We live in a really consumer-driven society, and to be honest a college is an investment,” Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones says in the article. “Families are much more discerning, and they approach it as consumers. That’s a cultural shift to which the campus has to respond.”
At Capture Higher Ed, we help our partners respond and adjust to that cultural shift every day with the most innovative tools and effective enrollment solutions in the industry. Our combination of behavioral analytics, enrollment prediction and marketing services and innovation can enhance any strategy to reverse troubling enrollment trends.
You can read the entire Washington Post story on Ohio Wesleyan here.