Deans continue to face declining college enrollment. Administrators who employ a variety of different approaches have been able to improve their enrollment numbers. Still, the headwinds are strong. Yet, for the post-pandemic, colleges have the chance to attract new students to campus. This second article addresses additional methods that deans can add to their leadership toolbox.
Improve College Enrollment by Reaching out to Nontraditional Students
Likewise, the pandemic has inspired many nontraditional students to seek new careers. Take advantage of their interest. Reach out to older, professional students to improve college enrollment. Look to increase course offerings that will guide students through a career transition. Also, look to update stale marketing materials. A college website should promote a diverse range of students. Most importantly, ensure students can acquaint themselves with campus life through the website.
Build a Sports Program
Besides that, schools with a vibrant sports program will attract students. Student-athletes will join teams where they get playing time and an education. Many student-athletes are looking for work-life balance and not a shot at the pros. Moreover, a vibrant sports program builds community. Colleges with sports teams can offer events to the surrounding community. Also, schools that provide family-friendly sporting events may attract nontraditional students.
Partner With High Schools to Improve College Enrollment
Additionally, deans can work with state (and neighboring states) high schools to increase college enrollment numbers. Edison State Community College in Piqua, Ohio, saw their credit-hour enrollment rise 12 percent. Also, state and federal funding is available to build programs that offer skills to workers. Now is the time to reach out to the high school students in the nearby community. Be sure to reach into the satellite campus community as well. Also, consider offering transportation options on campus. Moreover, hybrid and online courses should be offered. Ask instructors to go to the high school to deliver the classes.
Renovate Old Buildings
Therefore, colleges can renovate residential halls, student gathering centers, etc. Invest in new classrooms. Expand weekend residency apartments and consider adding on-campus family housing. Offer childcare services for on-campus and part-time students. Also, the investment in updating libraries with new technology pays off. Still, renovations of old buildings are expensive. However, the process builds community. Alumni can participate. Also, now is the time to update the campus tour. These methods can help to stem the decline in college enrollment.
Create an International Program to Improve College Enrollment
Moreover, a vibrant international program attracts students from around the world. Also, international programs attract faculty. Retired professionals who yearn for travel sign on to teach programs abroad. Empty nest business executives fill those part-time staff positions. Besides that, students with the option to study abroad for a semester often take it.
In sum, deans will continue to face a decline in college enrollment. Colleges that do not adapt their programming to attract new students can face difficulties. Leaders have an opportunity to attract new students. Still, nontraditional students have different needs than traditional students. Programs can focus on their needs. Therefore, leaders who keep various methods in their toolbox are flexible to manage these demands and challenges.