For colleges, improving student enrollment rates ranks right up there with improving student retention rates. Many schools are searching for a variety of different methods that they can attract new students to their colleges. Here are several options that colleges are utilizing to increase enrollment.
Schools such as Troy University and the University of Missouri are looking to increase their enrollment rates via Internet-based technology. As more and more students are juggling work and college, many are finding that online courses are ideal for their situations. It is estimated that about 3.2 million people took at least one online course in 2006.
The Sloan Consortium estimated that 850,000 more students took online courses in the fall of 2005 than in 2004. This was an increase of nearly 40%. With gas prices steadily rising, taking online courses is only going to become a more popular choice for those students who must commute.
Additionally, providing students with the ability to register for classes online, determine their financial aid eligibility online, use school sponsored web based email and even the option to apply for school loans online all appeal to new students entering college and can also help with retention as existing students find these services very convenient as well.
Another factor that influences student enrollment rates is financial aid. Enabling students to attend college that would not otherwise be able to attend is an important part of financial aid as well as improving enrollment rates. If schools are able to take advantage of the various merit-based grants, scholarships and other financial aid opportunities, they are likely to see an increase in enrollment.
College enrollment rates can also be improved at the high school level as well. Parents and students need a considerable amount of guidance through the college enrollment process. If high schools are capable of providing better structure and support for students and parents in the college enrollment process, more high school students will enroll. Many of the most successful high school students tend to default to colleges for which they are overqualified for or they do not even enroll into college at all. This means that if students who worked hard through high school and do not enroll in college, the hard work of both the educators and the students did not pay off. Although many students are pushed by their parents and the high school to enroll in college, many students choose to go to a community college or vocational school rather than a four-year college simply because they don’t understand the process and they don’t know which colleges they should choose.
In order for colleges to improve their enrollment rates, colleges need to actively participate in recruiting at the high school level. This means getting admission officials into the high schools and helping students make the correct choices in schools. Students also need to be educated on how the college search, application process and financial aid process works so that students and parents won’t be lost when it comes time to enroll. High schools can assist in this process by working with colleges to create a stronger college-going culture in the school and offer courses that provide high school students the opportunity to earn college credit as juniors and seniors.
By following these processes, colleges will find that they are able to not only improve their college enrollment rates, but also improve their retention rates of freshmen. By educating students early about how to navigate the enrollment process, offering Internet-based technology to make enrollment easier, beginning recruitment in high school, and offering more online courses, colleges will be able to improve their enrollment rates and meet their quotas.
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