To Compete in a Shrinking Market, Colleges Need Sophisticated Digital Recruiting Strategies

Press Release

To Compete in a Shrinking Market, Colleges Need Sophisticated Digital Recruiting Strategies

Explosion of online college search channels adds complexity and opportunity for campus admissions teams

September 23, 2021 • 3 min read

September 23, 2021 — Seattle, Wash. — Prospective students are increasingly searching for and exploring colleges through a variety of online platforms, forcing schools to use a sophisticated mix of digital recruiting channels to meet their enrollment targets, according to a new white paper by EAB. The education company presented the paper, “Recruiting in an Era of Channel Overload,” today at the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual conference.

EAB authors explain that prospective students and their families search for schools through a rapidly growing assortment of digital channels—from college search sites to social platforms to self-directed virtual tours. This fragmentation of the college search process further complicates the challenge of finding, engaging, and enrolling students. The magnitude of that challenge is compounded by a demographic shift that will shrink the population of college-bound students by as much as 11 percent over the next decade.

By deploying a carefully calibrated combination of online marketing efforts, institutions can also advance diversity goals. These new channels can enable schools to identify and build affinity with a wider, more diverse population of students who may have been overlooked in the traditional recruitment process, particularly those students who live in remote geographic regions.


“Today’s enrollment professionals need to understand how and when students and their families interact with these disparate channels and what opportunities those interaction points present to them. And they need to master an increasingly complex mix of recruitment tactics now, before they are forced to feel the full effects of declining college enrollments.”

Chris Marett, President of EAB Marketing and Enrollment Solutions


Leveraging newer digital recruiting tools, such as virtual tours and websites that aggregate college search information, can extend the power of a school’s website and direct its marketing activities. Such tools also offer schools more opportunities to successfully engage potential students, from when they start their college search to when they decide which school to attend.

EAB’s paper offers strategies for assembling a comprehensive portfolio of digital channels to accomplish three recruitment aims: finding students to recruit, identifying which students would be a good fit for an institution, and motivating right-fit students to enroll.

The paper also outlines EAB’s integrated set of digital capabilities—including Cappex, Intersect, YouVisit, and Wisr—whose unique insights and tools can be combined to better identify and engage students who are increasingly hard to reach via conventional recruiting processes.

About EAB

At EAB, our mission is to make education smarter and our communities stronger. We harness the collective power of more than 2,100 schools, colleges, and universities to uncover and apply proven practices and transformative insights. And since complex problems require multifaceted solutions, we work with each school differently to apply these insights through a customized blend of research, technology, and services. From kindergarten to career, EAB partners with education leaders and practitioners to accelerate progress and drive results across three key areas: enrollment management, student success, and institutional operations and strategy. Learn more at

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