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Top 5 Wake-Up Calls of 2021

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Dear Readers,

While 2021 may have thrown us a few less curveballs than 2020, it certainly managed to keep us on our toes. For higher ed, 2021 was the year that Emergency Online Learning gave way to “COVID-normal.”

On a positive note, the past year sparked even more momentum for innovation. Colleges across the country continue to actively master the super-charged digital recruitment environment, revisit their online strategies, rationalize sprawling academic portfolios, experiment with hybrid learning—even rethink pricing and funding models.

But the peaks were not without valleys. Continued decreases in bachelor’s enrollment and shifting application volumes and yield rates, among other challenges, were common. Many colleagues made decisions to switch jobs or retire early. And new Eduventures data indicates that traditional-aged prospective students are expressing even greater anxiety about their odds of getting into the colleges of their choice (more to come on this in 2022).

As a reflection of where higher education is today, nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, here are We look forward to sharing a new year of research with you, and we thank you for your readership!


Cara Quackenbush

Eduventures Senior Vice President of Research at Encoura

Top 5 Wake-Up Calls of 2021

How Student Mindsets are Shifting in a Pandemic Recruitment Cycle

We’ve seen subtle shifts in the percentages of students in one Mindset or another before, but never a wholesale realignment.

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The Problem with Transfer Student Pathways and Technology

How can institutions better leverage technology to address gaps in transfer student pathways? This is a surprising gap given how much technology permeates the rest of higher education.

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The Deceptive Graduate Enrollment Growth Story

How can enrollment be up and participation down at the same time? This is the plot twist in the graduate education story.

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Swag Works (And Other Lessons Learned from the Best Recruitment Communication)

Who are the best recruitment communicators? Here are the top four colleges and universities from 2021 according to our expert jury: the students you are trying to recruit.

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High-Impact Occupations and the Pandemic

What’s the current outlook for occupational growth over the remainder of the decade? Has COVID-19 influenced major changes that should factor into program strategy?

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Never Miss Your Wake-Up Call

Learn more about our team of expert research analysts here.

Eduventures Senior Vice President of Research at Encoura

Thursday May 6, 2021 at 2PM ET/1PM CT

After a historic year, the proven and true recruitment strategies used by enrollment offices nationwide have been challenged. With many high school students now harder to find, how can institutions better evaluate the success of their search results and strengthen their engagement strategies for future years?

In this webinar, Eduventures Principal Analyst Kim Reid and ACT | NRCCUA Senior Vice President Clint Chapman will identify what to look for in your funnel right now to improve yield and potential opportunities to strengthen your overall funnel in the years ahead. Sharing research on trends seen throughout institutions this year, we’ll provide practical and effective engagement solutions so that you can meet your students where they are right now, while also building a more sustainable model for the years ahead. 

Additional topics include:

  • Successful funnel strategies and opportunities
  • Methods to improve your current yield
  • Creating messaging that resonates with students and families
  • New methods to engage harder-to-reach students

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