Increase Enrollment by Diversifying Student Cohorts

Increase enrollment by diversifying student cohorts. While higher education continues to face headwinds driven by economic, demographic, and social shifts, we are beginning to see some positive trajectory in key areas, according to Education Dynamic’s, Survey of the Higher Education Landscape. Group of students walking through hallwayUnemployment has just recently returned to pre-pandemic levels of 3.6%. While this is good news, other populations have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Black/ African American and Latino/Hispanic individuals still have an unemployment rate over 4%, while Asian and White individuals are below the overall unemployment rate of 3.6% in June 2022. And while employment has increased amongst the educated, those with some college, but no bachelor’s degree were impacted more between 2019-2021. This is an indicator of increased volatility in the less educated cohort than those who have earned their bachelor’s degree or higher. Furthermore, despite the recovery efforts from the 2008 Recession, job openings fell to about 10.7 million in June, 2022, which may indicate some contraction in the labor market. Quit rates have reached a national high since 2000 with no expectation of stabilization soon. This change has spurred about one-in-five workers to indicate that they are likely to look for a new job in the next six months according to the newest Pew Research Center survey. From a demographic perspective, those most likely to change jobs in any given month include Hispanic and Black workers. Job changers in this market need the right educational background to succeed.

Enrollment Trends for Higher Education

What do these data and trends mean to higher education institutions that are seeking a more diversified student body and increased enrollment at a time when the population is shrinking? What should and should not be done in recruiting a diverse population? Let’s explore options.

Higher education can’t afford to recruit all students using the same methods. Authenticity, understanding the diversity in the higher education market and being prepared to educate students from a variety of educational and socio-economic backgrounds is essential.

From a racially and ethnically diverse perspective, students are choosing colleges based on an institution’s academic reputation, cost, majors available and scholarship opportunities. And most important to this population is the diversity of the student body and faculty. Providing the infrastructure to support diversity initiatives and recruitment is essential to student higher education consultingand institutional success as a first step. Authenticity in recruitment and marketing practices will not only increase enrollment but show the value that diversity of all kinds contributes to a college community.

How do institutions successfully diversify their campuses? Institutions can and should ask students of color what they want and need in their academic experience. When doing your research, be sure to ask not only your current students, but prospective students, recent alumni, and community members. Your audience is excited to participate in this effort and wants to be a part of the change.

  • What made them ultimately choose or not choose your college?
  • What was their main deciding factor?
  • How has their experience been as a student of color on your campus?
  • What could your college do better?
  • What are the challenges they face?
  • What resources or support do they need?

Conduct your research and analysis with your target audience and use that information appropriately to recruit and enroll the right-fit students. Regional, national and your own historic data is also crucial to successfully finding students who will enroll and remain to make a lasting contribution to your institution.

Diversity and Inclusiveness of All Cohorts in Higher Education

Once you’ve taken time to research and understand the type of students who are the best fit for your institution, build the infrastructure to support their success. Institutions tout diversity as a core value. Now you need to show the ways in which you’re working to improve the campus community. How are you meeting funding goals for diversity support services, scholarships, amenities, etc? Is your institution providing career-ready education and supporting the flexibility of program offerings that have been provided by being forced into the remote learning environment? And is the institution positioned for more online demand in the future? Authenticity and transparency are important to students and parents. Publicly share your goals and progress and be sure to include your campus community in the whole student lifecycle process.

Diversity and Inclusiveness Lead to Better Education

Increase enrollment by diversifying student cohorts. Not only do students expect personalized messaging, but they also expect you to know their academic and social interests, along Students sitting on steps on campus.with their financial needs. And that you’re communicating on platforms that they frequent. Limiting your connection with students by only using your recruitment staff can be counterproductive. Be sure to utilize your diverse student body to make authentic connections with prospective students. Don’t assume that all students are eager to be on campus. Learning preferences may mean that offering online or hybrid degree attainment formats is far more helpful to students in reaching their academic goals. And finally, diversity of language can be a barrier for domestic and international parents of students. If your marketing, web, and other content is in English only, you’ve negatively represented your institution to cohorts that you’re trying to increase.

Success is measured not just by meeting your enrollment, retention, and graduation goals, but how you show your humanity and commitment to a diverse community. It will take a diversified community that cares about the students and how they are being recruited and educated to be successful in a shrinking market.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

About the Author:

Avatar photo
Susan Kassab has served in the higher education arena for more than 30 years and brings a wealth of experience in all sectors of enrollment management and marketing. She joined focusEDU after serving as a Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing.

Susan has worked for medium and small liberal arts institutions in both the Dean and Vice President roles. Most recently, she served as the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. A Philadelphia region native, Susan has contributed her knowledge and skills to Widener University, Saint Joseph’s University and Neumann University. While at Saint Joseph’s University, Susan organized and led the new Graduate Division under Enrollment Management, leading joint recruitment opportunities and creating degree options for the Graduate Schools. She also led the internationalization efforts and managed two overseas offices. More recently, Susan has created a more effective application review process, increased communication, and a more robust digital marketing effort by aligning processes and procedures within the admissions, CRM and Marketing arenas. She has also worked with ELS Educational Services, delivering strategic international enrollment management plans and enrollment to partner colleges and universities.

As a seasoned practitioner, Susan has succeeded in a number of key areas of enrollment management and has built skills that include; Comprehensive Enrollment Management and Marketing; Institutional Strategic Visioning; Enterprise Systems Analysis and Integration; Specialized recruitment in the international, transfer, military, graduate, and adult markets; Internal and External Partnership Development and Change Management.

A comprehensive enrollment professional, Susan is a member of and served in several professional associations; The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Association of International Educators (NAFSA), Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management (NAGAP) and the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC). She has served and presented on a wide range of topics including Strategic Planning, Internationalization, and Best Practices in College Recruitment.

Susan earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and her master’s in education at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. She is a long-time resident of Wallingford, Pennsylvania and serves in a few capacities at Media Presbyterian Church.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.