It’s no secret that the events of 2020 posed some serious challenges for higher education. From canceled in-person recruiting events and campus tours to increased financial strains for many American families, the COVID-19 pandemic forced colleges and universities to rethink their standard recruitment practices. What’s more, Gen Z students across the country were watching to see how institutions responded to issues of racial injustice, and higher ed was no exception. To get a better idea of the impact of 2020 on college recruitment, Tallo asked 30 college admissions professionals to weigh in. This survey was conducted from December 14-28, 2020.
The vast majority of college recruiters feel that COVID-19 is still a top-of-mind concern for prospective students and their parents or guardians:
- 33% strongly agree that prospective students are highly concerned about their college or university’s approach to COVID-19 and 50% slightly agree.
- 57% strongly agree that prospective students’ parents or guardians are highly concerned about their college or university’s approach to COVID-19, and 23% slightly agree.
COVID-19 closures may lead to decreased interest in higher education:
- 70% believe that prospective students will lose interest in their college or university if they fail to remain open during the spring semester due to COVID-19.
- 83% feel that the parents or guardians of prospective students will lose interest in their college or university if they fail to remain open during the spring semester due to COVID-19.
The jury is out on how COVID-19 will impact bringing prospective students to campus:
- When asked whether or not they agreed that colleges and universities will base their COVID-19 restrictions around their ability to bring prospective students to campus during the spring semester, the response was split right down the middle: 50% agreed, and 50% disagreed.
The 2020 admissions season brought both challenges and strengths:
- When asked about their biggest challenges during this admissions season, college admissions offices responses’ included: travel limitations; the cancelation of events on campus and at high schools; the loss of parents’ jobs and families’ finances getting tighter; and lack of engagement and interest with virtual meetings (aka, “Zoom fatigue”).
- Admissions offices also reported their greatest strengths during this admissions season, including: an increased focus on digital marketing; the utilization of online recruitment platforms and events; the ability to try new things quickly; agility, flexibility, and creativity; increased communication; the ability to still conduct on-campus events/tours.
Diversity and Inclusion was also a big factor for higher ed in 2020:
- 87% agree that their college or university is actively working to end structural racism in higher education.
- 40% reported that their admissions team has changed their approach to diversity and inclusion initiatives in the past year.
- 70% agree that their college or university has implemented higher standards and/or expectations for diversity and inclusion due to social unrest around the country.
- 70% agree that racial and ethnic diversity is clearly reflected on their college or university’s admissions team.
- 93% agree that racial and ethnic diversity is clearly reflected in the recruitment materials used by their college or university’s admissions team.
- 50% say that their admissions team asks prospective students for their preferred gender pronouns during the recruitment process.
Communication between college and universities is mostly online:
Despite getting creative with online recruitment events and platforms, college admissions offices feel the strain of the pandemic on their communication with prospective students. In fact, 63% believe that their ability to communicate with prospective students has been impacted by COVID-19. Additional details about communication methods with prospective students and their parents or guardians, as well as a timeline for this admissions season are included below.
Want to learn more about Generation Z’s perception on higher education and the workforce? If you have questions that you’d like us to ask our community of over one million Tallo users, let us know here.
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