2020 Survey of College and University Admissions Officers
Enrollment Insights Blog

What You Should Know From the IHE 2020 Survey of Admissions Leaders

Inside Higher Ed, with support from Niche, surveyed over 400 senior admission leaders at colleges and universities to learn more about their recruitment priorities and the changing processes and pacing for enrollment. You can download the survey below, but here are a few things you should know and what you can do with them.

Most colleges that moved test-optional/blind plan to stay that way

  • Interestingly, this is counter to a smaller survey we’ve done with colleges and will be digging into the results.
  • If you’ve gone test-optional/blind, make sure families know that you mean it. More importantly, make sure that you mean it! Not requiring test scores for admission should also exclude them from scholarships and class placements – otherwise, tests aren’t really optional for students.
  • Make sure the change is clearly messaged to counselors, students, and parents so they know about the change. Also, be sure to update your website and notify any college search platforms like Niche.
  • Related, only 7% of colleges said that they will reconsider how they are reviewing AP scores in light of all the issues with the test this spring.

Application and decision timelines are changing

  • The majority of colleges (56%) did not meet their enrollment goals by July 1. Students have been delaying decisions and realizing that May 1 is an arbitrary deadline for 99% of colleges. Colleges that aren’t already can consider a shift to rolling admission and deadlines that fit student and parent needs.
  • A large number of students are not taking visits, hoping they will be able to later. That is certainly going to force colleges to push back deadlines to help accommodate students’ concerns and to provide flexibility and empathy.

Recruitment priorities are changing

  • The highest priorities for colleges are minority students, full-time undergrads, transfer students, and first-generation students. Additionally, out of state students and international students lost ground as recruiting priorities, while online students were the biggest gain. That being said, the most recent Niche survey of students (releasing 11/17) show very little interest from students to enroll as online students.
  • 78% of respondents said that transfer students are a priority, but only 23% say that they are taking advantage of the NACAC changes that allow recruiting of students enrolled elsewhere. The practice is highest at public Master’s/Bachelor’s institutions where one third said that they are.

How Niche can help

  • Students may be delaying decisions, but they’re still researching colleges and adding them to their virtual backpack on Niche to keep track of their college search. Keep in front of those students with Niche’s digital remarketing of those considering you, outreach emails to advocate for you, and an enhanced profile that will increase opportunities to connect with students.
  • One in two high school seniors uses Niche for their college search.  We can help you connect with students who are actively looking at your school, and schools like yours.
Prior to coming to Niche in 2019 Will served 9 years at Manchester University in roles as an Admissions Counselor, Associate Director for Admissions Operations, Social Media Coordinator, and ultimately as Digital Strategist. Will surfaces tactical insights from user behavior and surveys to help higher ed build recruitment strategies. In addition to the Enrollment Insights blog, webinars, and podcast; Will is a frequent conference speaker and podcast guest. He has presented at NACAC, AACRAO-SEM, AMA Higher Ed, CASE V, EduWeb, and EMA. Will's work has been featured in Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, CNBC, CNN, the LA Times, and The New York Times among other outlets.