Enrollment Blog

Must-read results for enrollment managers

From the latest Harvard Enrollment Study

by Pam Kiecker Royall, Ph.D.

For the past 15 years, we’ve had the privilege of working with Ed Gillis, Distinguished Visiting Faculty at the Harvard Summer Institute on College Admissions and retired Dean of Enrollment Management at the University of Miami, on his annual study of undergraduate inquiry generation for the Harvard Summer Institute. Ed just released the 16th edition of this report on student search practices last week, and I am pleased to share some of the highlights with you here.

For us at EAB | Royall & Company, the study feels like an old friend who has returned to affirm the principles of our student search strategies. Over the years, this study has consistently motivated and supported a number of the best practices we implement with our partners. To read more about these practices, you can revisit Ed’s blog post from last September: "Preparing for search?"

Powerful tools to reach prospective students

The results are in: Student response rates rise when outreach efforts multiply

The 2017 study results reiterate the importance of repetition and variety in successful student search campaigns. Each prospective student charts a unique path to college choice and institutions simply must be ready to meet them at every turn. To get you ready for the upcoming search season, we’ve highlighted four relevant results and recommendations:

  • Use multiple channels to enhance your campaigns
    Institutions using two or more channels in their search campaigns achieved a significantly higher average response rate (11.1%) than those using only one channel (6.5%). Most participants (91.3%) reported using two or more channels to contact students.
  • Use multiple list sources
    Institutions using three to four sources (9.8%), or five to six sources (14.9%) fared better than those that used only one list source (5.5%).
  • Contact students across multiple class years
    Searching multiple class years drove higher response rates than outreach to a single class year. Institutions that targeted only one class year averaged a 4.1% response rate and were outperformed by those with campaigns spanning two (9.4%), three (10.0%), or four (14.9%) class years.
  • Search for students multiple times a year
    Institutions deploying their search campaigns just one month out of the year had an average response rate of 11.1%, while those searching students four to five months out of the year enjoyed a higher average response rate of 14.3%.

Next, learn the best channels to reach prospective students

Our white paper analyzes data from 5,580 college-bound students for the latest insights on student communication preferences. Download the white paper to learn how to strategically position and time your messages across multiple channels in the digital era.

Download the white paper


  • Manage Your Events
  • Saved webpages and searches
  • Manage your subscriptions
  • Update personal information
  • Invite a colleague