Common themes surfaced as 3,000 plus admissions professionals gathered last week in New Orleans for the annual conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The mood among the crowd was filled with excitement and ideas for change in higher education.
In the midst of the conference action, admissions officers from across the country shared their thoughts with us at the annual iThink event which was held on the exhibit hall floor. We asked our friends and colleagues to complete this phrase — “I think admissions…” — and here’s what attendees had to say:
“Admissions is at a crossroads.” Many factors contributed to this widely used phrase, like the higher ed balance between being market driven and education-oriented, branding versus authenticity and graduation rates tying into budgetary needs of an institution.
“Losing our grip on the middle class.” Many iThinker’s and panelists shared concerns about the middle class being “squeezed out” of affordable higher education. Admissions offices are focusing much of their recruitment and financial aid on full pay and low income students. Affordability discussions are also happening earlier for this group (and others) with the development of net price calculators.
“Customization of the student experience.” Customization is expected by students and parents in the admissions process — in the messaging to students, their campus visits and their options of how to attend college (online, four year institution, etc.).
“Recognizing the industry reality.” iThinker’s and panelists alike expressed that things have changed. In past years, admissions has not faced this — but participants seemed to take a new approach, asking “What are we doing about it?” rather than ignoring the change. Participants cited using data for more strategic decision-making, refocusing their message to reflect their authentic campus and finding ways to be more efficient.
This year’s iThink certainly provided insights and raised larger concerns that shape our industry today. We’ve reached yet another tipping point in higher education — how will you and your colleagues adjust?
Free on Friday webcasts are back from summer hiatus (and now on Facebook). We’re kicking things off with a Post-NACAC discussion. Visit our TargetX Facebook page (and “Like” it!) to watch “What’s Trending? A Post-NACAC Analysis and Review” on October 7th.
Read more about our authors. Annemarie Nagle is the Senior Marketing Executive for TargetX. Annemarie knew she had a passion for admissions and recruiting as a student tour guide. Since then, she has worked in higher education as an admission counselor and a dual role recruiting students and managing marketing communications.