Challenges & Solutions Among College Admissions Staff (2022)

Amy Jenkins
January 9, 2023

A Look Back at 2022

College admissions staff are tasked each year with building an incoming class of students that meets a set of standards in a variety of ways. They are looking for students who will thrive and also add value to their community.

Admissions staff typically consider a student’s academic record, leadership potential, extracurricular activities, and other criteria when determining whether they are a good fit for their institution. That task sounds straightforward enough, but with the increasing complexity of enrollment in higher education, many colleges and universities face serious challenges in recruiting students.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to college enrollment, pressing topics for admissions staff include how to target the right students, which enrollment trends have taken off this year, and the latest innovations in student recruitment.

But what about the unique challenges that admissions staff face—those unrelated to student recruitment and enrollment in higher education? Let’s dive into three primary challenges admissions staff face, including keeping up with overarching higher education trends, figuring out how to market their institution, and dealing with perennial issues related to financial transparency.

Modernizing Alongside Student Interests

One of the biggest challenges college admissions staff face is the need to keep up with changing trends in student interests. As the world continues to evolve, so does the nature of college education and the preferences of today’s students.

For example, the rise of technology has sparked increased interest in STEM fields and decreased interest in humanities-focused degrees. Colleges and universities must be prepared to adjust their recruitment and enrollment strategies to meet the changing needs of their student population.

Additionally, admissions staff should understand how to market their institution’s specific degrees to the right students and then help them succeed in that program. This might mean helping to build out graduate and post-graduate plans for medical students who are already focused on their doctorates. For a student interested in business, success planning might instead revolve around networking with a large alumni body.

Learning the Basics of Digital Marketing

Another challenge facing college admissions staff is the need to effectively market and promote their school to potential students. With the rise of social media and other digital marketing platforms, colleges and universities must find ways to stand out from the competition and attract students.

But that’s a high charge for administrators who don’t have a background in digital marketing and social media. Some staff in higher education may not be digital natives, which presents dozens of challenges when it comes to launching a successful online presence.

Today, admissions staff are spread thin in their marketing pursuits. However, many are finding success by leveraging influencer marketing, attending college fairs, utilizing SEO and content marketing, and even launching online recruitment campaigns.

Delivering Transparency in Financial Aid

Lastly, admissions staff in higher education must be prepared to address issues related to the affordability of tuition costs. Today’s college students must consider the cost of their higher education when deciding to enroll—and it can be a tough decision for many.

To offset student stress, colleges and universities must be prepared to offer financial aid packages, scholarships, and other forms of assistance to make college more affordable. Additionally, many colleges and universities are starting to offer tuition payment plans, which can make college costs more manageable for students.

But, most importantly, admissions staff should be capable of delivering this information to students in a digestible and cohesive manner. Some institutions have turned toward texting to boost student enrollment outcomes, as they’re able to tailor these messages for each student’s unique case. And while all institutions are required to have net price calculators, it is the leading ones that use NPCs to deliver accurate and personalized estimates from the start.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Despite the challenges that college admissions staff face, some solutions can help them address these issues. By staying up-to-date on changing trends in student interests, utilizing digital marketing strategies, and meeting students’ financial needs - both in terms of transparency and in terms of financial aid - schools can effectively recruit and enroll students.

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