Three Enrollment Trends to Watch in 2023
Over 700 higher education enrollment leaders gathered in Toronto, Ontario, for the Strategic Enrollment Management Conference 2022. This meeting has consistently attracted leaders from the United States, Canada, and other countries (Australia, the UK, China, Japan, the EU, and Middle Eastern countries) to examine the leading practices and discuss the future of enrollment management. In this blog, I will share three important issues and trends that emerged from the conference.
1. All Jobs are Digital
Dr. Michelle Weiss, author of “Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don’t Even Exist Yet” emphasized that higher education needs to catch up to the career needs of our students. In the third edition of the Connected Student Report, nearly half (47%) of students reported selecting their institution for career prospects, but only 11% felt very prepared for work. Dr. Weiss’ research investigated the job tasks of thousands of open positions. While it is easy to see this in fields such as business or engineering, she illustrated how a journalism position today requires digital literacy and skills beyond oral and written communications.
The infusion of technical certifications from Salesforce and others provides a way to prepare students for work where millions of jobs will require advanced technical training and skills. The institutions that seize this opportunity to infuse certifications into not only engineering and business curricula but English, philosophy, anthropology, languages, and literature degree programs, to name just a few, will benefit from an enrollment advantage in being able to demonstrate the career pathways for their prospective students. Some will seek their first skills, but thousands more adult learners are seeking to upskill and re-skill in the digital economy.
In the Connected Student Report, students were asked how they intend to continue their development of work-related skills and knowledge after finishing formal education. In the U.S. 51% of students said they are looking to higher education institutions for their lifelong learning.
2. Student Well-being is a Critical Enrollment Issue
Dr. Michael Rao, President of Virginia Commonwealth University, spoke to this issue during the President’s Panel plenary session. Our students are struggling to recover emotionally and intellectually from the pandemic. It is impacting their student success, and we are all trying to figure out as rapidly as possible the right combination of things that will help each person stay on track to degree completion. Other presidents on the panel echoed Dr. Rao’s comments, and these issues are impacting students across all institutional types, sizes, and student age groups.
The findings of the Connected Student Report found that as students move through their academic journey, they expect continued support from their university, and demand for well-being resources rises. 40% of students reported needing more help to manage their course load and 36% more well-being resources to be successful.
3. Enrollment Leaders Must Introduce and Drive Disruptive Innovation
Dr. Tomikia LeGrande, the incoming president of Texas A&M Prairie View, said that marginal improvement to current operations and strategies is only maintaining the status quo. The pace of change in society, technology, student needs, and expectations demands that we embrace disruptive innovation, those initiatives that make significant changes in our enrollment approaches and methods. She went further to suggest that there will also be needs to drive radically disruptive innovation, those that span the entire institution, in order to thrive in the future.
Interested in learning more about how data can improve enrollment and student success? Check out 5 Ways Data Can Drive Student Enrollment Outcomes, and download the ebook Connecting the Dots and Data to Improve Student Success.
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