Higher Education Student Survey – The results are in! Discover what students really want from their school.

Read the report

Higher Ed Admissions
– Strategies for Increasing Student Enrollment

Higher Ed Admissions – Strategies for Increasing Student Enrollment

69% of admissions officials from community colleges and 55% from private colleges are very concerned about meeting their institutions’ goals for new students. This comes as student enrollment plummets. In 2022, 4 million fewer people in America enrolled at a college than ten years ago, and this trend doesn’t seem to be changing.

As schools come to terms with the new state of student enrollment in higher ed, they’re coming to understand that the old methods of attracting students aren’t enough. Marketing strategies to increase enrollment need to put today’s students at the center. Their needs and expectations have changed, and digital communications such as live chat and bots have become an essential tool in student enrollment.

In this blog, we’ll dig into the state of higher ed admissions today and explore strategies for increasing student enrollment, concentrating on what today’s students want and expect from schools.


blog background image

The State of Student Enrollment in Higher Education

From 2019 to 2022, undergraduate enrollment dropped 8% in the United States. Most concerningly, based on trends that predate the COVID-19 pandemic, college enrollment declines may be here to stay. With fewer students to draw from, the landscape of higher education has become more competitive as colleges and universities must work harder to attract new students.

With enrollment declines being felt at public community colleges more than other institutions, demonstrating value to students becomes critical. Tuition costs have drastically increased over time, tripling in the past 50 years. In the past 30 years alone, tuition costs have doubled. To compete against similar institutions on tuition costs, schools need to find new ways to reduce costs without impacting services to students.

The advent of online learning is just one more way that higher education has become more competitive in recent years. Even before COVID-19, distance learning grew around 40 percent from 2012 to 2017. Since COVID, schools have faced a global marketplace that forces them to compete for students against institutions in other countries. It’s no longer enough for schools to target local students, and colleges and universities now need to attract international interest to remain relevant.

As schools look for ways how to increase college enrollment, higher education institutions are adopting a more student-centric approach to education. Student services now need to provide more value and focus on meeting the core needs of students. In the next chapter, we’ll dive into this topic further with a look at what exactly today’s students expect from higher education admissions departments and support they receive.

The College Enrollment Decline - A Complete Breakdown of the Data Resource herobanner

The College Enrollment Decline – A Complete Breakdown of the Data

Find out the figures behind the college enrollment decline, with the latest enrollment data broken down by sector, region, gender, and major.

+ Get the data

blog background image

Prospective Student Support Expectations

To better understand what today’s students look for in higher education institutions, Comm100 ran a prospective student survey. In this report, students studying at higher education institutions across the United States and Canada were asked what matters to them when they are choosing which school to join and how they expect to be engaged.

In this chapter, we’ll look at some of the report’s key insights to reveal what students want and start learning how to increase student enrollment. For a full breakdown of the report’s findings, download the report below.

Higher Education Student Engagement Report – Survey Data herobanner

Higher Education Admissions Report – Prospective Student Survey

Discover what prospective students really want during the pre-enrolment phase and how your engagement strategy can sway them into choosing your school.

+ Read more

1. Digital communication and live chat are the top success factors in support

Asked what matters most to them in support, students chose digital communication above all else. It’s little surprise then that their preferred support channel was overwhelmingly live chat at 38%, followed by email at 27%.

Chatbot image 2

These results demonstrate that to meet the needs of today’s students, colleges and universities must embrace digital channels, and live chat in particular. The reason for live chat’s popularity becomes more apparent as we look at other student insights from the survey.


2. Communication choice is critical

Having a choice in communications proved very important to students, with 88% agreeing that they want the option of different channels for connecting to their school.

Higher Ed Admissions – Strategies for Increasing Student Enrollment - fig 2

Students want the ability to choose how they reach out. Providing a variety of channel options for students ensures that the majority of student needs are met. Omnichannel platforms allow schools to offer more value in their services by connecting all support channels to deliver excellent service however students choose to reach out. With every channel connected through a single platform, agents can easily respond to messages from one console.


3. Speed in support is incredibly important

Next to digital communications, speed is tied for the second-most important factor for students in support communications. Asked when they think their school should respond by, 53% of students said that they think their school should respond within an hour.

Higher Ed Admissions – Strategies for Increasing Student Enrollment - fig 3

This desire for timely responses highlights how important support speed is for students today. In recruitment, slow responses can decrease engagement and enrollment. To increase student enrollment, channel options matter, and live chat allows school admissions teams provide quick responses and real-time support.


4. Personalized support allows students to feel valued

As much as fast and convenient digital communications matter to students, it’s important that students also feel valued by their school. When asked about personalized support, 92% of students agreed that it’s important to be treated like an individual.

Higher Ed Admissions – Strategies for Increasing Student Enrollment - fig 3

Omnichannel support can provide this personalization by connecting channels together to provide agents with new student insights. By having a complete picture of the student journey, agents can provide the most personal and helpful support possible.


5. Students rate 24/7 availability as very important

When asked how important they think it is for schools to offer 24/7 support, a nearly unanimous 99% of students agreed that it’s at least somewhat important, with 58% saying that it’s very important. When looking for ways to increase enrollment in college, introducing 24/7 support should be a priority for higher ed admissions.

Higher Ed Admissions – Strategies for Increasing Student Enrollment - fig 5

This survey result shows that students want to receive support on their own terms when it’s needed, at any time of day. The only cost-effective way that schools can offer this kind of around-the-clock support is with a chatbot.  

For more information on these survey results, see the full Higher Education Admissions Report – Prospective Student Survey. 

Higher Education Student Engagement Report – Survey Data herobanner

Higher Education Admissions Report – Prospective Student Survey

Discover what prospective students really want during the pre-enrolment phase and how your engagement strategy can sway them into choosing your school.

+ Read more

blog background image

Top Strategies for Increasing Student Enrollment

In the last chapter, we saw that today’s students expect fast, digital support across a variety of channels, available whenever they need it, 24/7. In this chapter, we’ll look at the top strategies for increasing student enrollment in higher education, using their preferred digital channels and technologies:

  • Live chat
  • Chatbots
  • Omnichannel

    1. Provide fast & convenient support with live chat

    Students prefer live chat over any other channel for support. Why? Because live chat is fast and convenient, allowing students to quickly ask questions and get answers in real time. Students don’t want to sit on hold or wait for an email response.

    Live chat is also familiar to Gen Z students that have grown up surrounded by technology. Gen Z spend 74% of their time online, meaning that using messaging apps for communication is commonplace, and live chat is a natural extension of that.

    “Live chat is the perfect connection tool for our university. We’ve seen that our students now more than ever would rather chat to us online than come and visit us face-to-face or call. With live chat, we can connect with students that we simply wouldn’t have been able to and make sure that we are there for them when they need support.”

    Sue Rolland, General Manager, Deakin University’s Student Association

    Read more: Deakin University Increases Student Engagement with Comm100 Live Chat

    Colleges and universities can also introduce additional tools like a knowledge base and AI-powered agent assist to make live chat even faster and more efficient. These tools help agents find and provide answers quickly, without having to switch screens or leave the live chat console. They also reduce typing time and errors, making agent responses quicker and more accurate. With these tools, live chat becomes the ultimate support channel for students who value speed and convenience.


    2. Deliver 24/7 support with chatbots

    We know that live chat is the channel most preferred by students, but not every school can afford to offer this service around the clock. With schools stretched for resources, how can they provide help for students outside normal business hours and improve availability to increase student enrollment?

    The solution to providing cost effective, 24/7 chat support is with chatbots powered by AI. Compared to standard chatbots, AI chatbots can handle more complex and varied questions. These chatbots can take over when your team is offline and answer 80% or more of queries without any human intervention. In higher ed admissions, around the clock availability is especially useful for engaging international students in other time zones.

    During times when agents are available, chatbots reduce waits and shorten queues by answering common questions that allow agents to focus on more complex requests and tasks. Unlike human agents, a single chatbot can handle unlimited chats at once while providing faster responses.

    When a question requires a human touch, chatbots save time by gathering basic details from students before passing them to an agent. With this added insight, agents spend less time asking clarifying questions and more time helping students.

    Higher Ed Admissions – Strategies for Increasing Student Enrollment - fig 6

    Best of all, 95% of students that we surveyed said that they’re at least somewhat open to receiving support from a chatbot. As newer generations of students are more comfortable with technology than ever before, chatbots have become a preferred channel for many.


    3. Offer channel choice with omnichannel

    Students want channel choice from their schools, and omnichannel support is the only way that schools can deliver the seamless experience that students expect. Omnichannel software allows students to connect to their school using their channel of choice, and then switch to another channel and seamlessly continue the conversation. For example, a student can begin a chat with live chat on their school’s website and then move to a social platform like Facebook Messenger without needing to repeat themselves.

    Omnichannel also allows agents to manage every channel from a single unified console. This allows agents to work faster and more efficiently, as they can access all of a student’s information and history without needing to switch applications or screens.

    “Everybody has their preferred way of communicating. Some people want to reach out via live chat, some social media, and others via email. The beauty of Comm100 is that every channel can be connected into one platform so we can connect with and support more students, more efficiently.”

    Lachlan Todd, Communications & Systems Coordinator, Thompson Rivers University

    Read more: Thompson Rivers University adopts Comm100 Live Chat & Chatbot across 5 departments

    By offering omnichannel, schools can more easily support all their students’ preferred channels. This allows schools to be more agile in their support capabilities, providing support from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, WhatsApp, and any other platforms that may emerge. By unifying the experience across all these channels, omnichannel also enables a highly personalized experience, which we’ll look at in the next point.


    4. Personalize the student experience

    74% of Gen Z say that they “prefer personalized products or services.” Omnichannel creates new opportunities for personalized support by combining every channel through a unified agent console. With more information available about students, agents can provide more helpful support that demonstrates an understanding of students and their needs.

    “Providing personal and genuine support to our students is really important to us. We want all of our students to feel that we care about them as individuals and Comm100 Live Chat lets us do just that. The people we speak to on live chat also really enjoy the more casual and colloquial nature of the support, which helps us to build relationships while still being informative and helpful.”

    Alison Caruso, Manager of Student Recruitment at Cambrian College

    Read more: Cambrian College improves recruitment with Comm100 Live Chat & Chatbot

    Omnichannel support enables past chat transcripts to be accessible across every support channel, providing insight into the entire student journey. Using just a click, agents can easily switch between live chat, email, social media, and SMS support. This seamless experience allows students to feel treated like an individual, all while making the agent experience more effortless.


    Wrap up

    Knowing how to increase college enrollment comes down to adopting modern technologies that meet the needs of today’s students. By introducing digital channels that students want to connect with, schools can see improvements to student engagement that can increase student enrollment.

    To learn how you can engage with more prospective students and discover strategies for increasing student enrollment, download our report – Higher Education Admissions Report – Prospective Student Survey.

    Higher Education Student Engagement Report – Survey Data herobanner

    Higher Education Admissions Report – Prospective Student Survey

    Discover what prospective students really want during the pre-enrolment phase in an exclusive student survey.

    + Read more

    There’s a lot more where this came from!

    Get our monthly customer service news and best practices update delivered to your inbox.


    Article by

    Kate Rogerson

    Kate is the Content Marketing Specialist at Comm100. She has extensive experience in content creation for technology companies across the world, including the UK, Australia and Canada. She specializes in B2B messaging, branding and soccer trivia.