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Report: Improving Enrollment Health

Institutions need to rethink their offerings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent negative enrollment impacts, according to a new report from Ad Astra.

In the current recession, students are not looking for an education, the report argues. Instead, they’re looking for training that will get them a good job.

In the last recession, students may have flocked to colleges for education and retraining, but many didn’t achieve that goal. Completion rates at four-year institutions dropped by three percentage points in 2008 and 2009, according to the report.

The report argues that institutions need to be more thoughtful about their “completion promises” and create systems to give students defined paths to complete their majors on time.

For example, if a college offers a 100 credentials across three campuses and advertises that students can attend classes during the day, at night or online, students will likely think there is great flexibility. But the college likely isn’t offering every major in every location and in every format, which students may not realize until it’s too late.

To fix this problem, Ad Astra encourages colleges to examine their “enrollment health” by looking beyond how many students are enrolled in which majors, to what time, place and way they’re taking courses. If a college has fewer than 10 students in any of those groups, it’s indicative of a sustainability issue, the report states.

Once these are identified, institutions can implement metamajors to help improve sustainability and minimize the number of major-specific requirements that can’t be shared with other majors.

Colleges must clearly communicate these changes and what courses can be offered in which ways. Annual scheduling can also help students plan ahead, the report states.

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