How to Position for the Pending Enrollment Cliff

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ellen Johnson, VP of Enrollment Management at Allegheny College, joins the podcast to talk about population growth no longer being in higher ed’s favor and how to position your institution for success in alignment with how Gen Z is conducting their college searches.

It really has to be again, thinking about back to what makes us a college of people want to roll at and how does that fit within the mission of what we're here to do? You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with Ellen Johnson, vp of enrollment management at allegheny college. Ellen, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me. Eric. Really excited to talk to you today about tactics and strategies to stem the pending enrollment cliff in higher at. But before we gin dig into that optimistic conversation,...

...can you give the listeners a little background on both alleghany and your role there? Absolutely so. As, as you said, I'm the vice preson for enrollment management at alleghany and alleghany is one of the the forty colleges that change lives. So we're located in northwest Pennsylvania as smaller lards college, so we're about the sixteen hundred students, so all residential, a traditional kind of liberal arts college experience that our students have here. And but one of the things that really sets alleghany apart from a lot of schools is actually our unique approach to interdisciplinary education and and I think that actually, as we start talking about the stemming the enrollment cliff and opportunities for students, that really ties into the the work that we do at allegheny. I've been here a little less than a year. It's been an exciting time to join allegheny as we really look to how we can ensure that our opportunities and college ours position to educate the students of the future. Love IT Ellen to kick off this conversation today remind...

...us of our current demographic reality, where no longer our population growth numbers perpetually in Higher Ed's favor. Yeah, so I think we've been talking about this looming demographic cliff for for a while and and it's starting to be a reality for those of us that are working at colleges that traditionally enroll students coming directly out of high school, so that eighteen to twenty two year old group, you know, as we've both seen a decrease in births, you know, from eighteen to twenty years ago. But also, I think the important thing to remember is that we're also looking at a decrease in students who have historically attended liberal arts colleges, traditional for your education right out of high school, and so well, this number of students has decrease some. What's really decreased is that that historically represented student population, and where we've seen an increase in...

...students is in racial and ethnic diversity, in socio economic class, first generation students, first generation Americans, and well, those populations are incredibly important to our colleges and we want students to enroll, institutions have to prepare themselves for that changing demographic as well. And so within these changes right now, how much of this do you anticipate will become a race to be leaner, to chop off deadweight programs that are pulling their enrollment share, to shave prices as close to the bone as we can get? Do you anticipate that becoming the go to playbook for many institutions. Yeah, I think that will be for many institutions, the approach they take, which is to kind of, you know, cut programs or look at at different structures, and my concern with that is that it'll be institutions losing the focus on their core mission and trying...

...to right size themselves to their student population, but really actually losing what makes them unique, what makes them an institution that students want to enroll at. And so you as I think of what we're doing at allegaty college, what other schools are doing, is really thinking about maybe we do need to cut a few programs, but where can we either add programs are, more importantly, enhance what we're doing really well and that makes students want to enroll here. And so your colleges that just cut, our colleges that just add without really thinking about what the students want, what are the int what do employers want? You know, that's not necessarily going to fix the the enrollment issues or the financial issues. It really has to be again thinking about back to what makes us a college of people want to roll at and how does that fit within the mission of what we're here to do? And I've been doing, you know, alligator's case, for two hundred years. So how do we make sure that it fits both of those things and it's not just just a race to the bottom? I love that, that concept of finding out...

...what makes us us. Let's also talk about our students looking for US anymore. So the demographic reality has changed. The student search process seems to be evolving as well, especially through the pandemic. What does being competitive look like today within Gen z's current college search process? Yeah, I think that that is the the million dollar question is, how do we stand out? How do how does a college stand out, and and how does that fit with what Jens is looking for? So we know Gen Z is looking for institutions where they can stand out as an individual, where they can follow their passions, where they're not just, you know, stuck in in that, you know, in a herd mentality, but they really can be themselves and we also know they're really engaged in social justice issues, climate justice, sustainability, those type of things. So I think as an institution, again it's still...

...staying true to your mission, staying true to who you are, but helping students see how they can be themselves at your institution. How you, as an institution, not just give lip service to things that students care about, but really live it and be it. It means being competitive and in helping ensure that, you know, the product, quote unquote, your academics, your co curriculars, is in alignment with what their interests and passions are, and so it's you know, and then it comes to does your marketing actually reflect what it is that you're actually delivering on the institution as well. Let's talk about the product. How do institutions need to think about their academic approach, making sure that we are truly indeed preparing students for are the evolving jobs of the view future and that were effectively able to communicate that value proposition? Well, yeah, I think if for for me and I think about what is the value proposition at an institution for years and enrollment, you know,...

...we've always stuck to using kind of general statistics like ninety eight percent of our students Scott a job within six months, and I don't think that really resonates with students and families in the same way because they want to make sure it's are they getting a job that fulfills their passions? Are they are they doing something related to their field? Is it maybe a job for a couple of years, and then, as they continue to change career paths or change jobs, how is their foundational education going to help them in the future and that lifelong learning? So when we think about how we're preparing students for jobs, you matching the that Liberal Arts Foundation, those important job skills, the critical thinking, the writing, the lifelong learning, but also with what employers want and need and you know that kind of idea of jobs, of the future, of the digital technologies, and how do we take that? Those liberal arts foundations with that, with that work? And you know, we know...

Gen z again is telling us they're not going to get one job. They're planning for that idea of multiple changing of jobs and problem solving and technical skills. And so I think academically institutions really have to balance both of those things and ensure that students have both the foundational understanding of how to continue to learn with the skills that actually employers are looking for. Allen fantastic thoughts leave us with some vinal next step suggestions for institutions listening to this. They're trying to prepare for the new demographic reality that we're entering into and and looking to thrive within it. How should they think? Where should they start? So I think as we look into the future as an institution, we really have to think about who we are, why we exist and why students are interested in us. So bringing that uniqueness to life through marketing, through the way that you're able to kind of get through the the noise of all the colleges that...

...are out there talking to students. Why you you know, we talk a lot about why alleghany here, what makes us unique, and I think that's the only way that institutions are going to continue to thrive in the future is to not just be and feel the same as everyone else, but provide students that something unique or something different in that experience at their institution. Allen, thank you so much of your time today. What's the best place for listeners to reach out if they have any follow up questions? Absolutely, I would love to hear from from listeners if you have questions and and you can reach me at e Johnson at Alagin Dot Edu, or I'm also on twitter and pretty active on there at Ellen v Johnson. So I would love to to hear from you here from the enrollment community and I really appreciate the opportunity today to share a little bit with you about how we're how to attack that enrollment cliff. It was our pleasure, I don't thanks so much for joining us...

...today. Absolutely thanks so much. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (264)