We’ve been friends with Scott Jeff, VP of RNL research for several years. Recently, in an effort to better understand (and possibly influence) the aspects of online education marketing, recruitment, and enrollment, we have joined RNL’s Advisory Board.
One of the advantages of serving on an advisory board is the opportunity to look at RNL research early. A newly published report (which we suggest you check out) is the “2022 Online Student Recruitment Report: 10 Challenges and Solutions to Engage Potential Online Students.” We asked Scott to answer our questions about the outcome of the report.
Q: We noticed that this new report not only presents 10 challenges, but also what you call solutions. How do you go about this?
A: There are plenty of reports today to talk about the challenges facing higher education. But I know that when I present this kind of data, viewers always want to know what it means to them.
With that in mind, I gathered a team of my colleagues and asked each of them to choose one of the challenges and imagine that the institutional stakeholders had just read it and asked them, “So what should I do about it?” This was the starting point for the solution.
Q: You wrote in the report that online program expansion has become essential for institutional growth. Why is that?
A: We started reporting here for a very intentional reason. There was a time when it would have been better not to have to be online, but that is no longer the case. Although the epidemic probably accelerated it, it was created long ago. This first challenge presents data that, as of 2012, there was no net increase in the number of students enrolled at the undergraduate or graduate level until 2012. Only Classroom course.
All growth has come from new students who enroll in all distance courses or enroll in one or more distance courses. In either case, all distances exceed one or more, so we must conclude that it may not be sufficient to include some online courses in the classroom, excluding perhaps the most prestigious বা or most affordable প্রতিষ্ঠান institutions.
Q: What was your most interesting search?
A: We asked respondents about the expected response time to an inquiry. Overall, expect a response within one-quarter of a minute, another quarter within an hour or so, and another 30 percent within one business day. Every time I present this kind of information to a group of listed leaders, I hear, “I don’t want a response in a few minutes,” “I think it’s awful,” or a similar response.
OK, now we know why: when we split this response data into five-year age blocks, more than 40 percent of respondents over the age of 45 indicated that they were OK with a response that took more than one business day. The message: We (the 45 of us who usually conduct enrollment activities) are not visitors.
Q: How does meeting the potential expectations of students contribute to the success of the institution today?
A: We asked the respondents two questions: What are the chances of you enrolling in the institution that first admitted you? Over 80 percent said they would most likely be enrolled in the first institution to admit them. But that’s not all. We asked them how likely they were to be registered with the organization that responded to their inquiry first.
More than half of respondents said they would probably or would not. Given that the rise of online (and its acceptance) has given students more choice than ever before, meeting such expectations has a real impact on enrollment growth.
Q: Why do you students put so much weight on this motion?
A: Today’s students সাধারণত and especially online students-really think of their higher education as another of the products they purchase. They’re thinking about costs more than before, they’re weighing costs versus results (looking for carrier data on websites) in a way that looks as awesome as ROI. Let’s not forget that we are now serving two generations (Millennium and General Z) who have grown up in a world of customized and instant response. They have the same expectations towards their organization.
So with these response-time questions, they’re equating colleges and universities with everything else.
Example: Restaurants that do not respond to their misplace placement order on GrubHub will never be used again; Retailers that do not facilitate refunds will not be reused. They are not contacting any company why they expect good customer service.
This new report will be a major focus of the 22-session Graduation and Online Track at RNL’s National Conference in Washington, DC from July 14 to 16, where we will also present “Six Post-COVID-19 Provocations.”
There is still time to register.