Declining enrollment yields are causing elite colleges and universities to reach deeper into their freshman wait lists according to today's Wall Street Journal.
With a record number of high school graduates combined with increasing numbers of applications and deposits, even the most experienced enrollment managers are challenged to forecast new student enrollment. "It was certainly a year in which there was more uncertainty than I've experienced in over 30 years in admissions," says Bill Fitzsimmons, Harvard's dean of admissions and financial aid.
This increased wait-list activity ripples through the market as students alter their decisions. In addition to the elite institutions, some state colleges and smaller liberal-arts schools are also drawing more from their wait lists. The University of Wisconsin-Madison expects to take 800 from the wait list this year, compared to only six students last year.
Admissions Application: The New Inquiry Card
With more efficient application methods combined with pre-printed application forms, the admission application has become the new "inquiry" card with students applying to a record number of institutions. For example, the Common Application announced in January that its online system had processed a record 1 million + applications in a six-month period. Contributing to the application glut is the use of so-called "express applications" where known demographic data is pre-printed on the application or pre-populated in a secure web page.
It's clear that the path to enrollment has changed with students no longer following a lock-step progression through the enrollment funnel. Application increases combined with enrollment deposit growth is shaking the traditional funnel model.