The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) recently released its final report on fall 2020 postsecondary enrollment. Given the pandemic’s widespread impact on higher education, it should not come as a surprise that the report found decreases in university enrollment. We summarize the relevant findings from the NSCRC report below and conclude with a brief overview of how automating the enrollment process can help schools to overcome these challenges.
Key Fall 2020 Enrollment Findings
The following are the most significant findings from the NSCRC’s fall report.
- Postsecondary enrollments declined by 2.5%. This is nearly twice the enrollment decline reported in the fall of 2019.
- Undergraduate enrollment contributed significantly to the decline, decreasing 3.6% or over 560,200 students.
- The public two-year sector experienced the largest declines of 10.1% from last fall.
- Graduate enrollment increased by 3.6% from the previous fall.
- Public four-year institutions enrollment increased 0.2% from last fall, driven by the growth in graduate enrollment.
- First-time student enrollment declined 13.1% over last fall. Declines at public 2 two-year institutions contributed was largely responsible (21% decrease).
Doug Shapiro, the executive director of the NSCRC, attributed most of the decline in first-time students to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession. Also, it is worth noting that adult enrollment, those over 24 years old, fell by over 30%. Robert Kelchen, an associate professor at Seton Hall University, notes that the steep decline in adult university enrollment is likely do to childcare or the need to earn a living.
Improving the University Enrollment Process
Higher education institutions will continue to face unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic. Schools are forced to compete for a dwindling number of applicants. Increased familial responsibilities, financial challenges, and social distancing guidelines have altered the ways that students think about and pursue a postsecondary education.
To overcome these challenges, schools should focus on improving the university enrollment process to provide superior student experiences while also boosting the efficiency of back-office processes. For students, completing enrollment online and accessing student services from a centralized student portal greatly improves the user experience.
The pandemic’s impact on colleges and universities is estimated to exceed $120 billion. Reducing costs will prove vital to the long-term success of many institutions. Automating the enrollment process eliminates inefficient manual processes, freeing up staff to focus on higher-value tasks like recruiting and improving student services.
Back office automation systems also improve compliance. Colleges and universities are subject to strict regulations. Features like a document management system ensures that information is stored securely, while eliminating time-consuming paper processes.
Transforming the Student Experience with ProcessMaker
Countless universities and colleges use ProcessMaker’s low-code business process management (BPM) software to automate the enrollment process and back office tasks. For instance, Tulsa Community College (TCC) was heavily dependent on paper-based processes prior to turning to ProcessMaker’s innovative platform.
ProcessMaker seamlessly integrated with TCC’s existing systems, such as its finance, human resources, and student registration applications. Leveraging ProcessMaker’s user-friendly and customizable forms, TCC could automatically pass inputs to the requested system, eliminating the need to manually enter data. TCC was able to improve both its enrollment process and back office function, becoming more efficient, reducing costs, and providing superior student experiences.