Winning the Enrollment Game: Metrics That Matter

Leslie CrosleyExecutive Consultant, Enrollment Management Consulting ServicesJune 20, 2024
Blog: Enrollment Metrics that Matter, image of a mortarboard and charts and graphs.
Knowing which enrollment metrics to monitor can give you a competitive edge.

It’s almost impossible not to know about the “enrollment cliff” (although there may be a second cliff after the one we’re already expecting). Fewer high school graduates with increased diversity coupled with a rising mistrust of higher education and the worth of higher education has many enrollment professionals rethinking their game plan. The pressure to enroll more students and drive revenue is unparalleled for this group of campus leaders. So, too, is the demand for a crystal ball, at the ready, to accurately predict enrollment outcomes each cycle.

Application volume and historical yield rates are no longer enough to precisely project a future class. Whether a campus uses predictive analytics and sophisticated statistical modeling to help determine outcomes or a more home-grown version of analysis, the work relies on basic data points that every campus should be collecting. What are the best enrollment metrics to manage campus expectations and forecast results?

Identify back to basic funnel data points

  • Conversion rate from inquiry to application
  • Admit rate from application to admit
  • Yield rate from admission to enrollment

It’s no secret for most campuses that a student who submits a FAFSA and visits the campus has a much higher likelihood to enroll, so layer in visitors and FAFSA filers to determine yield rates differences among those three fundamental metrics.

Additional enrollment metrics to monitor

Other variables that describe the profile of the pool should also be considered when assessing likely outcomes:

  • Market segment (first-year, transfer, athlete)
  • Geographic region
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Academic quality
  • Counselor territory
  • Inquiry source
  • Campus visit data
  • Intended program of study
  • Phone calls/contacts
  • Qualifying scores of admitted students

Soft admits use precious campus resources, and these additional key metrics can save time and dollars by focusing efforts on students more likely to enroll. Different markets have different outcomes, so when predicting enrollment, ignoring the makeup of the underlying admit pool can be a rookie mistake.

For example, if an admit pool is increased using a new search strategy that successfully attracts students at great distance from campus, yield rate changes must be anticipated. It’s okay to increase the admit pool by developing new markets—even important—but managing campus expectations is equally critical. The admits from a new market will yield differently than those from well-established areas, and leadership needs to be informed.

The work is important and the pressures are great

Arming a campus with enrollment metrics and data points that can be easily digested and understood makes life in the enrollment office just a little bit easier. Remember that degree completion remains one of the great equalizers in terms of lifetime earnings, lower unemployment, and socioeconomic stability. RNL’s national first-year student survey finds that students who do attend college are anxious to gain the qualifications necessary to find good jobs. Ultimately, anticipated outcome is the reason students pursue a secondary degree in the first place, ranking improved quality of life and financial stability as drivers.

RNL consultants are available to help navigate the landscape with data driven research, market and opportunity analysis, and enrollment experts that can help you prepare for 2025 and beyond.Reach out to our experts and we can set up a time to talk.

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Our enrollment experts are veteran campus enrollment managers who now work with hundreds of colleges and universities each year. Find out how we can help you pinpoint the optimal strategies for creating winning student search campaigns, building your inquiry and applicant pools, and increasing yield.

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About the Author

Leslie Crosley consults on enrollment strategies, which include financial aid leveraging, admissions marketing and recruitment, financial aid service, and enrollment operations. Previous campus experience With over 25 years in higher education, Ms. Crosley most recently served as...

Read more about Leslie's experience and expertise

Reach Leslie by e-mail at leslie.crosley@ruffalonl.com.

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