Eduventures® Annual Survey of Admitted Students Examines the Enrollment Decisions of College-Bound High School Students

February 15, 2018
Data Highlights Seven Key Decision Segments Driving 80% of Enrollment Choices

Boston, MA – February 15, 2018

The National Research Center for College and University Admissions™ (NRCCUA®), an educational data

science and research organization, today announced findings from Eduventures, NRCCUA’s research division.

The annual Survey of Admitted Students analyzes the findings from a national panel of more than 100,000 high

school student respondents nationwide and identifies seven key enrollment Decision Segments of admitted

students. The goal of this study is to help enrollment management leaders better understand the decisionmaking

process of admitted students and improve the yield and fit of their incoming class.

Creating a More Relevant Yield Strategy based on Decision Segments

By the time a college-bound high school student is ready to make a final enrollment decision, they have learned

a lot about themselves, their desires for college, and what they believe should make or break the final decision.

They are no longer looking at a wide array of schools on broad characteristics. Rather, they are down to the

details of fit among a finite set of alternatives. Understanding the nature of these seven Decision Segments will

help institutions personalize recruiting and maximize the chance of enrolling each student. Decision Segments

include affordability, availability of a desired program, reputation/academic quality, career outcomes/job

opportunities, value of education for cost, feeling of fit, and proximity to home. When layered with other data

from this study on influencers—pivotal informational needs, communications, and financial aid—enrollment

officers can derive segment priorities and implement targeted yield strategies.

According to Kim Reid, Principal Analyst at Eduventures and author of this study, “Eduventures recommends

that institutions work with their inquiries and admits during the enrollment cycle to understand their individual

concerns. Knowing this information can help you communicate with students throughout the enrollment cycle,

but is vital when admits are making their final decision. If you have an understanding of each student’s main

concerns and their likely Decision Segment, you can create a more relevant yield strategy.”

Key insights in this report include:

  • Eighty percent of admitted students cited one of these seven main reasons—or Decision Segments—driving their eventual enrollment choice.
  • For the 57% of students attending in-state public institutions the largest decision segment was affordability (24%) followed by finding a desired program (14%).
  • Among students attending private institutions (27%), the top Decision Segments were reputation/academic quality (17%), career outcomes (14%), and finding a desired program (13%)
  • First generation college (69%), low-income (70%), and Latino (70%) students were most likely to end up attending in-state public in-state institutions and most influenced by affordability in their choice.
  • Students in the affordability Decision Segment acknowledge that their alternative choice was just as good or better on quality, but cost was the sole factor in the decision.
  • Additionally, for affordability-driven students, decisions are very much made at the family level. Thus, yield strategies should be family focused.
  • As a corollary, for students in other decision segments, while parents do play a role, it is a background role. Yield strategies for these students can assume a greater degree of decision making independence.
  • Admits make decisions for a variety of complex reasons requiring thoughtful communications and messaging during yield season.

Institutions who wish to participate in the 2018 Survey of Admitted Students can contact Eduventures at

  • contact@nrccua.com.
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