How Data Can Help Enrollment

The Problem of Enrollment and How Data Can Help

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many students graduating high school to pause and think about their futures. 

According to the 2022 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report, enrollments at many accredited higher education institutions are dropping, and more institutions are closing every day.


Unfortunately, in the two years following the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities saw a decline in the number of students enrolling in higher education. According to the National School Clearinghouse, enrollment rates over all college sectors dropped by 4.1% in the spring of 2022, 3.6% lower than enrollment rates in the spring of 2020. 

As a result, this NSC research center estimated that the undergraduate student body is 9.4% smaller than before the pandemic. 

Why the sudden shift of undergraduates not enrolling in colleges and universities?

The Enrollment Problem

Enrollment is the backbone of all colleges and universities, private or public. Reductions in funding sources like alumni giving and endowments make tuition more important than ever. Colleges and universities need money from tuition fees to operate on an efficient basis and create environments for students to learn and thrive. 

Enrollment can also influence institutional prestige. According to the Intelligencer, the more students an institution can enroll the higher level of prestige it can claim. The level of prestige a college or university claims can lead to several benefits, including an increase in the number of applicants for that university, more selective admissions, and the ability to demonstrate educational effectiveness. 

With a decline in the number of students enrolling in higher education institutions, colleges and universities may need to increase tuition fees to meet costs. But this can exacerbate the problem, as many students and families are unwilling to pay higher tuition or are unable to afford hundreds of thousands of dollars on a four year degree.

Shift to Online Learning Following the Pandemic

With this sudden decline in enrollment in higher education institutions, some prospective students are looking at options offering credentials from online classes. According to the EDUCAUSE report, some large companies are offering their own credentialing programs to prepare incoming employees and to upskill existing employees. 

Adding to the decrease in demand of accredited higher education degree programs, the EDUCAUSE report also mentioned that while students have more education options, it’s hard to discern which ones hold the highest value and which ones are not valuable at all. Taking classes that are poorly constructed costs students valuable time and money. 

So what can higher education institutions do to increase enrollment rates and foster student success?

Data-Guided vs. Data-Driven

Students are comprised of more than their academic data. Looking at traditional AND non-traditional enrollment data can be one solution to decreasing enrollment numbers. Understanding a more complete picture of which students are applying to schools and which are not can lead to valuable information on prospective students to target with more successful  marketing campaigns. 

Higher education institutions need to make sure that the data they are gathering about students doesn’t make them solely focused on one group of students, or one year of enrollment. Using their data instead as a guide to augment human-based intuition can yield more benefits than letting the data drive what you do. It’s best for higher education institutions to be guided by data instead of driven by it. 

  • Data-guided processes allow higher education institutions to work with data and augment what they are already doing with what they've found. 

  • Data-driven processes are more rigid constructs that solely focus on the “doing what we’ve always done” and not leaning more deeply into understanding changing behaviors and the trends other colleges and universities may be following.

According to the 2022 EDUCAUSE report, institutions that demonstrate a commitment to data-driven processes continue to lose students, and institutions embracing data-guided processes are enjoying a new season of peak enrollments.

Enrollment data can not only aid a higher education institution by showing them future enrollment predictions but also allow them to set goals based on these predictions which they can work on in future years. 

With new forms of data management technology being developed every day, many data companies are in high demand for colleges and universities that want an edge over their competitors.

What Invoke Learning Can Do

With their InvokeClarity™ solution, Invoke Learning provides colleges and universities with a data lakehouse system to break down data silos, incorporate non-traditional data into everyday analysis, and empower institutions with the  data their institution needs to foster student success. 

Colleges and universities struggling with declining enrollment rates can use their data gathered with InvokeEnrollment™, a solution to discover why prospective students are applying, and how to foster a successful relationship with them. 

Colleges and universities looking to boost future enrollment patterns can get precise predictions with InvokeEnrollmentTracking™. This allows higher education institutions to visually track enrollment goals, improve enrollment numbers throughout the entire registration period, and find out which communities of students are trending right now so that resources may be allocated to the areas that most need them. 

To learn more about Invoke Learning and how you can increase enrollment numbers in the future, check out more solutions here.