Rethink Existing Retention and Recruitment Strategies in Today’s New World
Leading into 2020, higher education was already experiencing significant disruption with shifting funding models, declining enrollments and continued scrutiny of its value to students and graduates. Then, along came two seismic shifts that will forever alter the higher education landscape:
Shift # 1
In September of 2019, The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) announced changes to the Code of Ethics and Professional Practices (CEPP). These changes now enable institutions to connect digitally with prospective and existing students providing them more flexibility and time to decide their educational path. With these new rules, prospective students will now be able to continue their search well into the summer months. From a recruitment perspective, universities will be much less restricted in their ability to compete for, and “poach,” from a nationally declining student population. In theory, this could be good for both students and institutions. But it does make yield harder to predict.
Enter COVID-19. What began as a highly contagious virus in a country far away, rapidly grew into a worldwide pandemic. And like many world-changing events, its legacy will leave a lasting impression on us all. Not only has it caused an overnight change in learning models for education at all levels, but it has also caused a shift in cultural values across all generations going forward.
Cultural values are the core principles and ideals upon which an entire community exists. They are the beliefs groups of like-minded people crave or aspire to have more of in their lives. Based on our research, the values which rose to the top in early 2020 were: wellness, control, empathy and optimism. While these values have remained intact, COVID-19 triggered a vast emotional response that caused a shift in how these ideals are defined, resulting in the development of new adjacent values to define these core beliefs.
Now, couple this with what we already know about the generation that is our current undergraduate student audience and prospect base known as Gen Z and we find ourselves in uncharted waters that make even the most seasoned higher ed veterans shudder.
Retention and Recruitment Strategy Shifts
What does this all mean for retention and recruitment strategies going forward? It’s a question many of our higher education partners have been asking. While the world is changing rapidly as a result of these seismic shifts, we have compiled our insights on new and innovative ways to attract and retain students during this challenging time. And we would love to share them with you.
Click below to download an overview of the shifts and resulting “new practices” in retention and recruitment strategies. They can help to inform your institution’s new “best practices.”
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