Colleges Signal Growing Willingness to Recruit Other Schools’ Students

Press Release

Colleges Signal Growing Willingness to Recruit Other Schools’ Students

EAB survey shows changes to NACAC recruiting guidelines causing enrollment leaders to consider more aggressive recruiting techniques

Washington, DC, Feb. 05, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Education firm EAB released findings today from a survey of college enrollment leaders at more than 150 schools. The findings show that many administrators are thinking of engaging in the previously prohibited practice of recruiting students committed to or already attending other institutions. The change comes on the heels of recent revisions to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) Code of Ethics and Professional Practices that liberalized student recruitment guidelines.

“To prepare for this new reality, EAB is urging our partners to enhance the onboarding process to strengthen affinity and provide structured early guidance that helps students build momentum toward a degree,” said EAB Vice President and Dean of Enrollment Management, Madeleine Rhyneer. “These tactics are proven to improve retention through deeper engagement and will be invaluable in an environment where current students may be contacted by competitors.”

What Changes Are Enrollment Leaders Considering?

EAB’s survey findings indicate that a sizable percentage of enrollment leaders are considering significant changes.

  • Thirty-five percent of enrollment leaders said they are considering offering transfer incentives to students they had previously admitted but who are attending another school.
  • Eleven percent of enrollment leaders said they may offer transfer incentives to students enrolled elsewhere, including those who had never applied to their institution.
  • Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) said they are considering recruiting rising freshmen who have committed to another institution but who have not yet enrolled. 

Additionally, almost one-third (31 percent) of enrollment leaders said they were thinking about increasing the size of their enrollment deposit to discourage committed students from withdrawing. The median increase being considered by survey respondents was 200 percent. However, this may not be a sound strategy. “A deposit large enough to prevent students from withdrawing would likely also be large enough to discourage some students from depositing in the first place, making a large increase counterproductive,” Rhyneer cautioned. 

Can Students Be Induced to Transfer? 

A separate EAB survey of more than 2,000 new college freshmen conducted in the fall of 2019 showed that many students would consider transferring to another institution to which they had previously applied. Students cited cost reduction as the top incentive (34 percent) that might prompt them to consider transferring. Other top inducements included full transfer of credits earned (28 percent) and admission to a program to which they were not originally admitted (18 percent). The survey also indicated that less than half (48 percent) of students are fully convinced they made the right college choice to begin with.

New EAB White Paper Offers Tips for Responding to New Recruiting Guidelines

The changes to NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices are causing schools to rethink strategies for meeting enrollment targets and retaining current students. A new EAB white paper, “Enrollment Strategy After the NACAC Vote,” summarizes EAB’s analysis of the issue and includes a guide for successfully responding to the changes. 

“Every institution needs to decide for itself how best to fulfill its mission and meet enrollment targets,” Rhyneer added. “But the best strategy is to continue being thoughtful about recruiting students you believe will thrive at your institution and then give those students the support they need to succeed.”

About EAB

At EAB, our mission is to make education smarter and our communities stronger. We harness the collective power of more than 1,700 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 college and beyond, EAB partners with education leaders, practitioners, and staffs to accelerate progress and drive results across three key areas: enrollment management, student success, and institutional operations and strategy.

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