“An Inside Higher Ed survey of admissions directors found that 88 percent of community colleges reported they were down in enrollment compared to two years ago.”
-Community College Enrollments Drop
InsideHigherEd, October 18, 2016
According to the report in Inside Higher Ed, community college enrollments have declined more than two-percent every year since 2011, with the largest decline of 4.4 percent in Fall 2014. Some colleges experienced even larger declines, above six percent in one year. At Community College Partners we make it our business to help community and technical college executives across the U.S. identify the most significant factors affecting college enrollment.
Scant data exists that examines these factors from the perspective of the student. What does exist shows that students in various regions of the U. S. perceive different factors. In her 2014 dissertation, Rossi asserted that transportation and childcare were the most significant factors. In two community colleges in the south, prospective students felt their cumulative high school GPA was the most significant factor affecting college enrollment. My research at a rural community college in the southern U. S. found a lack of funding kept more than 60% of respondents from registering for class. One thing is clear: students perceive factors affecting college enrollment differently in different parts of the U.S..
Understanding the factors that affect college enrollment e for your college constituents is the first step in regaining lost ground and decreasing the gap between application completers and college graduates.
Based on the research and groundwork laid by Rossi and others, our surveys include 15 items, each a factors that affects enrollment. Respondents are asked to rank these 15 items in order of significance to him or her. As a 16th item, participants are given an opportunity to indicate any other factor not listed. Demographic data collected at the end of the survey allows us to categorize responses.
What we do-
Using the information you provide we customize our survey to your college. We also provide an email template, which includes a link to the survey. At the end of the survey period we provide the college with cumulative chart data from the responses received showing each item as it compares to the rest.
What you do-
In preparation for the survey, you will need to identify students meeting certain criteria based on whom you wish to survey. Some colleges may wish to survey those who completed the college application but failed to enroll in coursework. Other colleges may wish to survey the population of currently enrolled students. Using an email template we provide, the college will send the email to these individuals on Monday of each week inviting participation in the survey, typically for a period of six weeks.
There are plenty of theories as to why college enrollments are declining. Thought leaders from across the country continue to investigate ways to increase enrollments: more programs, reaching out to new demographics, and so on. We believe that individuals who are attending or have expressed interest in attending your college are the best group to work with. The data from our surveys are specific to the college service area, and provides invaluable insight for college executives and admissions teams as they consider ways to increase enrollment and retention.