I’ve recently learned a lot about the challenges facing higher education. While I’m certain the big universities with great sports programs aren’t feeling it yet, I know that the mid-sized and small universities are already at the start of an enrollment crisis.

The stats out of Moody’s and WICHE tell a grim story:

  • There was only a 5% increase in high school graduates 2003-2014
  • 2015 to 2020 there will be a 0% increase in high school graduates
  • And way out in 2021-2027 there will be a measly 2% increase

It is clear that there won’t be more bodies to naturally fill fall classes. But the weird thing is, universities are getting more applications than ever before. So what is going on? The answer is the wonderful efficiency of the digital age. It is easier for students to apply to universities so they are casting a wider net to keep their options open. What a crazy time to be in enrollment. You’re getting more applications than ever before, but you are having a frighteningly low conversion rate. In fact, Moody’s states that 20% of higher ed institutions now admit less than 20% of their applicants.

So, do you have a plan in place to fill your classes despite the decline in serious applicants?

If not, I highly suggest you watch this short 20 min presentation from Steve Neiheisel, VP of Enrollment Management and Student Services at Northern Michigan University. In this presentation that took place at Dreamforce 2015, Steve outlines NMU’s plan to leverage their alumni and current student body to find the right students and provide them with the right, personalized message at the right time. A must watch if you are seeing higher ed enrollment challenges in your future.



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