Eduventures® 2018 Prospective Student Survey™ Report Reveals the Mindsets of College-Bound, Gen Z Students

December 6, 2018

The most comprehensive research of student expectations and perceptions of colleges and universities nationwide, the Prospective Student Survey details how Student Mindsets™ provide critical direction for enrollment professionals.

December 6, 2018


The National Research Center for College and University Admissions™ (NRCCUA®), an educational data science and research organization that was recently acquired by ACT®,​ ​today announced findings from its Eduventures® Research division. Available in the Eduventures app on the Encoura™ Data Lab platform, the 2018 Prospective Student Survey Report is the largest student market segmentation and brand study revealing the preferences of Gen Z college-bound students. Using Eduventures’ Student Mindsets, the results of this study are used to provide critical direction for enrollment professionals, as it informs their practices to better recruit, retain, and serve students.

What are Prospective Student Mindsets?

Initially developed to identify high school juniors’ and seniors’ dreams and desires for college, the Student Mindsets help institutions understand what students expect from their college experiences, know what their blind spots are, and evaluate how to support them throughout the student lifecycle. Prospective students in Generation Z fall into six distinct Mindsets: Experiential Interest, Career Pragmatist, Social Focus, Exploration & Meaning, Career Though Academics, and Grad School-Bound. This report provides dossiers on how to work with each Mindset, and illustrates the most common areas for enrollment professionals to infuse a “mindset approach” into their practices.

Key Findings in the 2018 Report Include the Following: 

  • Every institution has a distinct profile of Mindsets that are drawn to that type of institution. For example, the top Mindset for students likely to attend an in-state public university is Experiential Interest at 23%.
  • Academic major is strongly linked to Mindsets. For example, nearly half (45%) of students interested in studying the physical sciences fall into the Grad School-Bound Mindset.
  • Access students—defined as first-generation college, low-income, or underrepresented minority students—are increasingly aligned with the two career-oriented Mindsets, Career Through Academics and Career Pragmatist.
  • Eduventures recommends using a Mindsets approach for opening conversations with prospective students, to address their blind spots, and to identify opportunities to support them.

Our Research has Identified Four Main Ways to Apply Mindsets:

  • Bursting recruiter bubbles: sharing the Mindset research with recruiting stakeholders helps them learn about a data-driven typology of students.
  • Revitalizing communications with relevance: by prioritizing which Mindsets your institution should target, enrollment marketing and communications professionals can immediately see the benefits.
  • Rethinking campus visits: the Mindsets can be used to differentiate campus visits; a relatively simple, pre-visit Mindset assessment can change the nature of visit programs.
  • Helping academic colleagues see their students: the final, and potentially most fruitful area, is the ability to share

Mindset research with faculty to impact not only the recruiting partnership, but also the way faculty think about student support and academic programs.

“Mindsets provide a point-in-time snapshot of prospective undergraduate students,” said Kim Reid, Eduventures Principal Analyst and author of the report. “One of the most important ways to use Mindsets is the ability to train those involved in recruiting to empathize with today’s prospective students. Mindsets provide context for how institutions should bring students into the enrollment funnel.”

Quantitative Research that Matters

The cornerstone of Eduventures Research is the quantitative research that is conducted across multiple disciplines within higher education. A team of experienced quantitative research analysts collects and analyzes data from both prospective and current students.

Eduventures Research conducts a wide array of survey projects each year, from highly-targeted single-client surveys to large, national, multi-client studies that include tens of thousands of students. Our team of quantitative and principal analysts provide robust measurement tools, custom data cuts, data analysis, and ongoing client advisory to help private, public, for-profit and non-profit institutions accelerate their recruiting strategies, boost program growth, and create compelling messages for their target audiences.

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