Gen Z’s Changing Journey to Enrollment


Gen Z's Changing Journey to Enrollment

Understanding students in 2022 amid a culture of continuous change

As universities adapt to consistent, unprecedented changes to the enrollment landscape prompted by the pandemic, Gen Z continues to forge new paths to enrollment, transforming another once-familiar process. Accelerated adoption of technology, new attitudes about testing, and skepticism toward the value of college represent a paradigm shift in recruiting. It is critically important—and extremely difficult—for enrollment leaders to adopt student-savvy and nimble practices to meet the needs of today’s students.

Explore this infographic or download the PDF to learn about key findings from our analysis of 5,000 survey responses from recent high school graduates and behavioral data from the 1.5B+ student interactions that EAB analyzes annually.


Gen Z relies heavily on self-service tools


Students ranked college websites as their #1 source when making an enrollment decision


of students attended at least one virtual tour


Percentage-point increase in students who have taken a virtual tour since 2020

Takeaway: Your web presence is more important than ever.
Your website, virtual tour, search engine optimization, and presence on college search websites play a central role in how students and families will assess your institution.


Parents play a more vital role than ever


Increase in percentage of students naming parents or guardians in their top five sources since 2020


Likelihood of a student to apply if their parent responded to an EAB marketing campaign


First-generation students are 23% less likely to name parents as a top source than non-first-generation students are

Takeaway: Build robust parent communication streams.
Establish multichannel parent communication streams starting in sophomore year. Early parent communication streams can help you lay the foundation for a constructive relationship with key recruitment influencers.


Competition for students' attention and interest is intensifying


Average number of applications submitted per student


of students would be motivated to visit a college if offered a $1,000 scholarship to do so


of students applied to a school specifically because it was test-optional

Takeaway: Personalized, responsive marketing can help you win students’ attention.
It’s increasingly difficult to win students’ hearts and minds at every stage of recruitment. Personalized marketing can help you build and deepen connections with students by delivering the right message, at the right time, through the right channel. Learn how with Enroll360.


Concerns about the cost of college continue to rise


of students selected their institution for its affordable tuition, up slightly from 35% in 2020


Percentage-point decrease in survey participants attending college since 2017


of students submitted FAFSA info only for the school they decided to attend

Takeaway: The pandemic exacerbated financial concerns.
Encourage all students to submit FAFSA information to your school, and proactively reach out to students who are likely to qualify for need-based aid who haven’t submitted their FAFSA to you. Look for opportunities to articulate your value proposition effectively.


Recruitment no longer ends at enrollment


Increase in students who chose to enroll at their school because of its "beautiful campus" in 2022


more college freshmen felt at least somewhat satisfied with their college experience in 2022 compared to 2020


of college freshmen don't feel extremely satisfied or dissatisfied with their college experience in 2022

Takeaway: Students are hungry for experience and connections.
Today’s students want a fun and immersive post-pandemic experience from their college. Amp up your communications about the vibrancy of life on your campus.

Read more findings from this research

Explore 28 pages of data in the white paper to further understand changing student perceptions, identify new enrollment behaviors, and spot a few unexpected contenders in the competition for their attention.

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