With more than 4,000 colleges and universities located throughout the United States, students have their fair share of options to choose from after high school graduation. But despite the benefits attending higher education brings, the country has started to witness two alarming trends: shrinking levels of student enrollment as well as complete campus and university closures.
From 2011 to 2022, the number of college attendees decreased by nearly 17%, while roughly 600 institutions either merged or completely closed their doors from 2014 to 2020. So, what is the reasoning behind this trend?
The answer to this question is multifaceted. Some contributing factors include:
- Rising tuition costs
- Increasing popularity of online classes following the Covid-19 pandemic
- Growing interest in higher-paying blue-collar jobs
- Decreasing births due to the Great Recession
- Declining student engagement
As a result, many higher education institutions are finding themselves in competition with one another to recruit and retain incoming students.
Not All Schools Are Affected
No two colleges or universities are the same. Not only do they vary in size, location, and specialty, but they often attract different groups of individuals. Liberal arts colleges situated on smaller campuses typically attract those seeking college degrees relating to literature, history, and philosophy. Meanwhile, larger state universities typically located near major cities attract a wider range of students seeking experiences beyond academics. Regardless of location, alumni relations and the availability of resources play an integral role in the success of each institution.
It’s therefore not a surprise that the decline in student enrollment has heavily impacted small colleges. These universities naturally have a smaller reach and may struggle to obtain adequate funding to maintain yearly operations. However, despite smaller student populations, Ivy League schools remain unfazed by current enrollment trends. Their worldwide prestige, extensive alumni network, and accredited programs allow them to thrive.
Student Engagement Is Key for Maintaining Student Enrollment
The term “student engagement” is used to refer to a university’s interaction with current students both on- and off-campus. Engaged students tend to be more active participants in school culture by demonstrating school spirit, staying involved in campus activities, and giving back to their university. They are proud to wear their school colors and share their positive experiences. Schools with higher levels of student engagement ultimately have a higher likelihood of maintaining and growing their student body.
The Advantage of Digital Interaction to Strengthen Student Engagement
Many schools and universities are trying to find creative ways to better engage incoming students and help combat shrinking student enrollment.
BrightCrowd’s digital memory books are an ideal way to engage students and inspire a sense of school spirit before they even begin their time as college students. Participants can share meaningful memories and information about themselves to help them connect authentically with their fellow peers.
BrightCrowd isn’t just another time-consuming tool for university relations departments to add to their lists. Within a matter of minutes, schools can create a robust digital book accessible to all incoming students. Participants then create their own personalized pages with content relating to their hometowns, desired college degrees, career goals, and personal interests. All questions are customized based on the institution’s goals.
BrightCrowd’s digital memory books allow students to develop stronger relationships with other incoming students, making the transition into a new environment less intimidating.
Colleges or universities can also use the information collected to create a thorough database of their new attendees. Administrators can identify common interests, questions, or concerns that students may have, and they can help better personalize the experience, especially at larger institutions.
Contact BrightCrowd today to learn more about how our team with decades of university relations experience can help your school work to better engage students and achieve its goals!