What do enrollment managers want more than anything else?
Enrollment growth, according to a recent EAB survey: Sixty-eight percent of respondents listed increasing their freshman class size a top priority.
Given today’s tough enrollment environment, this finding comes as no big surprise. But it underscores the significance of another, more exciting result: Deposit volume is up an average of 10% across Enrollment Services partners compared to last year.
As the largest enrollment management partner in the country, we view it as our responsibility to derive insight from our work across all our clients. That learning takes many forms, including periodic pulse checks with our partners to assess the current state of the market and their performance.
So, this spring, we conducted two client flash polls, one on applications and one on deposits. Both surveys offered an opportunity to assess the status of targeted efforts to grow schools’ recruitment funnels in order to positively influence enrollment. Strategically increasing inquiry and application pools can ultimately enable enrollment growth without sacrificing on key targets, such as academic quality and net tuition revenue.
Results from our flash polls
The first survey of 128 schools revealed impressive application growth, especially among first-year partners. New partners are up an average of 39% in both submitted applications and admitted students compared to 2017. Continuing partners are also up in application volume, averaging 12% increases in submitted applications and 14% increases in admitted students.
While application increases of this scale are exciting, we’ve waited to share them until we could assess the impact further downstream on deposits. Now that the results from our Deposit Flash Poll are in, we can see that the growth in application volume is indeed translating to increases in enrollment commitments from students. The majority of the 158 partners who participated in the deposit survey are seeing an increase in deposits from last year, with an average growth of 10% in deposit volume.
As you’d expect from the application results, it’s the first-year partners that are driving overall deposit growth. First-year Enrollment Services partners using our application marketing saw an impressive 54% average growth in deposits, while returning Application Marketing partners saw a 7% average increase in deposits since 2017. All other EAB Enrollment Services partners who do not participate in Application Marketing still saw significant growth, averaging a 4% boost in deposits.
What’s driving the substantial increases in application and deposit volume?
The strategic decision making and hard work of the enrollment teams at individual schools certainly played a huge part in these great results. That said, looking at the data collectively, there are a few insights to be gained about the factors that can drive enrollment success more broadly.
Let’s begin with first-year partners—why are they seeing the greatest gains? While we’d love to be able to exclusively credit our exceptional creative genius, these results are at least partially attributable to the external environment. It’s no secret that enrollment leaders face a number of pressures today that are make it more and more difficult to bring in their classes: regional declines in student population, decreases in public funding, intensifying student sensitivity to price—to name a few.
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Given those challenges, managing recruitment processes in-house is becoming increasingly tough. Enrollment shops that previously thrived on their own are now finding themselves looking to vendors for additional scale and expertise. In this difficult climate, schools that make the jump from operating totally in-house to working with an external partner can see striking improvements in outcomes.
And as for long-term partners? This cohort’s continued, widespread application growth is driven by Enrollment Intelligence. EAB Enrollment Services has assembled higher education’s largest data asset, which powers a combination of prescriptive analytics, smart recruitment marketing, and strategic advisory support services that help partners meet their enrollment goals. With data from 350+ partners and 1.5+ billion student interactions, EAB can help schools stay ahead of competitive market dynamics. That wealth of data, paired with our practice of constant testing and innovation, fuels actionable insights for engaging and enrolling best-fit students.
Together, it’s a powerful combination, and one that can help enrollment managers meet their top goals—including growing their freshman class.
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