Admissions directors say they're struggling to hit their targets

More than half of admissions directors are 'very concerned' about meeting their goals

Admissions directors are increasingly struggling to meet their student enrollment goals, according to a new survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed

Scott Jaschik reports that the publication partnered with researchers from Gallup to poll 339 admissions directors and officials with equivalent titles about trends in admissions.

Just 37% of respondents this year reported meeting their enrollment goals for the fall class by May 1, down from 42% one year ago. The share of private institutions that met their goals dropped one percentage point to 41%, while the share of public institutions that met their goals dropped to 29%.

This year, the share of admissions directors who said they were "very concerned" about hitting enrollment targets also increased to 54% from 51%, and the share who said they were not concerned at all dipped from 7% to 5%.

Jaschik says enrollment goals have grown particularly challenging at community colleges, which are not as fixated on a May 1 deadline as four-year institutions. Two-year colleges also tend to recruit new students during the summer, unlike their four-year counterparts.

The percentage of community colleges that reported meeting their enrollment goals by May 1 dropped to 9% this year from 20% one year ago. In addition, 88% of community colleges report that their target goals have decreased compared with two years ago. 

Learn more: What May 1 does—and doesn't—tell you

Other notable findings from the survey:

  • 29% of admissions directors agree or strongly agree that the Common Application needs more competition, compared with 49% of respondents who disagree or strongly disagree;
  • Just 2% of respondents strongly agree that the new SAT is a significant improvement over the old version;
  • 20% of admissions directors from public institutions strongly favor Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's free college plan, compared with 8% of their peers from private institutions; and
  • 19% of respondents agree or strongly agree that the application process is easy for students and families to understand, compared with 44% who disagree or strongly disagree (Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 9/22).

Pop quiz! What's a fun and proven way to boost prospective student engagement?


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