Top admissions + enrollment trends for 2023

Admission trends for 2023

These are tough times and admissions trends in schools—like everything else—are impacted by the challenges posed by a global pandemic, rising rates of inflation and a cost of living crisis. According to NAIS, K-12 admissions fell during 2020 and remained lower than usual throughout the following school year, where almost three in 10 independent schools struggled to maintain their enrollment and lost 10% or more of their students.

As we stand at the brink of 2023, all signs point to another tough year ahead. But with careful planning and some forward-thinking, schools can get themselves in a strong position and hopefully see an uptick in enrollment.

The following 2023 admissions and enrollment trends will help you plan ahead and prepare yourself to meet the new year from a position of strength. 

Admission trend #1: Diversity, equity and inclusion remains a high priority

People across industries are becoming more aware of how those from different backgrounds and ethnicities experience their services and are striving for greater equality. Diversity, equity, and inclusion frameworks in an educational institution are designed to promote the fair treatment and full participation of all people—especially those who have historically been underrepresented or discriminated against for reasons of ethnicity, religion, or disability.

To enhance your school’s admissions process, make sure your DEI policies are up-to-date and clearly communicated on all your channels, including your website, social media channels, and any marketing materials you produce. 

How PeerPal from Gravyty helps

An ambassador platform like PeerPal from Gravyty will allow prospective students and families to self-select the ambassadors they are most interested in speaking to, which will be more convenient for them as well as offering them the authentic interactions they prefer. 

One of the most effective ways to tangibly demonstrate a commitment to DEI is in your choice of school ambassadors. Make sure that the selection of ambassadors on your PeerPral platform reflects the full diversity of your school’s population so that all prospective families will have the opportunity to reach out to someone whose experiences are likely to be similar to their own. 

Ambassadors will also enjoy the opportunity to create their own personal profile that reflects their experience accurately and allows them to attract parents who are interested in hearing about their personal experiences with the school.

Admission trend #2: Storytelling or testimonial-based recruitment

Parents today find first-person interactions with existing parents and students at the school more informative and genuine than those with school employees and staff. For this reason, they tend to seek out opportunities for word-of-mouth interactions with peer ambassadors. This is especially true of millennial parent generations who are accustomed to the directness and honesty of social media channels where it is possible to go “straight to the source” without any intermediaries.

How PeerPal from Gravyty helps

One of the easiest ways to provide authentic and self-led interactions with peer ambassadors is to use an online ambassador platform such as PeerPal from Gravyty. This will help you offer a people-to-people school ambassador program and empower parents and families to set up their own conversations with those ambassadors they wish to speak to. What’s more, the mere presence of such a platform on your website will help to bolster your image as an honest and open school which is likely to positively impact your enrollment process. 

Research shows that most prospects today need at least five touchpoints before applying to a school. PeerPal can help greatly to this end by providing multiple touchpoints with school community members in a way that is simple for prospective families to navigate. 

Admission trend #3: Meet students where they are

It pays to remember that most of your prospective students are growing up in an interactive social media world where things are just that much more “exciting.”  Nearly 40% of Snapchat users are 18-24 years old, and more than 30 percent (31.4%) of US Instagram users are 25-34 years old (followed closely by 25.7% of users 18-24 years old.

To truly attract the attention and respect of the up-and-coming generation, you will need to be more social media savvy and get creative in how you reach out to your prospective students at every step of the enrollment process. 

For example, the bland acceptance pack sent by snail mail which was the norm in the past, might not make the grade anymore. For starters, it takes a long time to get there, and it is also not very personal or exciting. Forward-thinking schools are already exploring new ways to notify students of their acceptance to the school. For example, by sending a text message that links to an interactive acceptance letter. Moving the acceptance experience to the digital realm also helps students more easily share their excitement by posting directly to their social media channels. 

How PeerPal from Gravyty helps

Students and families in the pre-acceptance phase already have access to your ambassador platform, where they can freely converse with current school families.

When it’s time to accept students, you can use the PeerPal from Gravyty platform to welcome them to the school family and allow ambassadors that are already in touch with them to congratulate them and offer further support. This personal embrace will come across as very meaningful and far more personal than a paper-based welcome package.

Admission trend #4: Personalization is key

As the world of school enrollment has become increasingly digital, it has become easier to reach more people in more locations at all times of day and night. While technology has clear advantages in the realm of student enrollment, digital communications can feel cold and impersonal. Mass generic mailings, for example, hardly make people feel special or like someone is taking the time to get to know them. 

Sending the same message to your international prospective students as you do to local ones is bound to alienate part of your audience, as no one wants to wade through irrelevant information.  

To succeed in a digital enrollment world, it is therefore critical to think about personalizing your communications and segmenting your audiences, all the while telling the story of your school through anecdotes and human connection. 

How PeerPal from Gravyty helps

PeerPal allows you to broadcast messages to specific groups of people only. By segmenting your population according to location, subjects they are interested in, ethnicity, religion, or any other category you choose, you can send messages that directly resonate with your prospects, and that will feel more personal. 

You can also use the school ambassador platform to initiate one-on-one conversations via your ambassadors. This allows prospective students to start building genuine relationships with those in the school community before joining. Turning technology into a relationship-building tool rather than a tool for mass communication will be a great weapon in your enrollment arsenal.

Admission trend #5: Prepare for enrollment uncertainty

If the world learned anything from the Covid pandemic, it was to prepare for the unexpected. As we enter a new reality replete with uncertainty, schools must learn to be flexible in the way they approach enrollment. Just as businesses have embraced a hybrid working model, schools should embrace a hybrid enrollment model by offering a combination of both online and in-person enrollment options. Interviews and school tours should be offered virtually and in real life, for example. The same is true for conversations with ambassadors. 

International student enrollment is also down significantly from past levels, with recruitment from China being particularly affected. With so many barriers to enrollment at present, schools can use student ambassadors to reach out personally and discuss fears and concerns individually with families. This can be a much more effective way of resolving issues and making families feel more confident about enrolling in the school than sharing information on a website or in an email.

How PeerPal from Gravyty helps

PeerPal helps you unleash the true power of community and human connection by allowing personal, unedited interactions with real people to take palace as often as your prospective students want. 

Admission trend #6: Show data-backed ROI of attending your institution

You’ve seen how important data is in the business world, and things are no different in the world of educational enrollment. Deciding what school your child will attend at the K-12 level can have big repercussions for the rest of their lives and parents don’t take these decisions lightly. Use data widely and wisely to show parents the impact going to your school is likely to have. 

Include stats about future employment success, networking opportunities, academic courses and anything else you think showcases the benefits of going to your school.

How PeerPal from Gravyty helps

PeerPal is a great way to share information directly with school prospects. Hearing the personal success stories of actual school alumni direct from the source can also be a powerful adjunct to the stats you share, making them more believable and real in the minds of prospects. 

Admission trend #7: Showcase courses and programs for the modern working world (data science, cybersecurity)

As much as families care about the nature of school life and the future career prospects of those who are educated in your institution, they also care about the range and nature of the subjects on offer. The modern world is vastly different from that which most parents will have grown up with and they will want to be reassured that their children will have the opportunity to learn subjects that will equip them for a career in the future. 

If your school offers special tracks in computer or data science, machine learning, or cybersecurity, make sure to publicize this widely and clearly.

How PeerPal from Gravyty helps

You can create dedicated groups on your PeerPal platform for those interested in specific subjects. You can even have online webinars and Q&A events where parents can talk to school ambassadors about their children’s experiences learning these subjects. 

Admission trend #8: Think of draft applications as the “abandoned cart” of admissions

As any online shopper knows, it’s quite common to put something in your cart and promptly forget about it or get enticed onto another website, never to return. This is becoming a phenomenon in enrollment too, where many parents begin drafting an application that they never end up completing. Abandoned applications make schools miss out on several would-be students each year. 

How PeerPal from Gravyty helps

Your ambassadors are a fantastic weapon against abandoned applications, have them reach out directly to families who are mid-application and offer to answer questions or help them resolve any difficulties. This personal touch might be all that’s needed to turn an undecided application into a surefire one. 

Take your enrollment process to the next level with PeerPal

An enrollment management solution like PeerPal will allow you to satisfy your prospect’s need for world-of-mouth authentic reports about the school.

Empower your prospective families to build genuine relationships with community members before coming to the school, showcase the full diversity of your school community, and create a warm and engaging admissions experience. 

Don’t get left behind in 2023. Bring your entire admission process up to speed with PeerPal. Get a demo. 

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