With a Looming Enrollment Crisis, It’s Time to Focus on Retention


We’ve all heard about it, read about it, and thought about it: the looming enrollment crisis facing higher education. Over the next several years, the supply chain for colleges will diminish – thanks both to lower birth rates and a plethora of value-based arguments and financial considerations facing American families. Universities are already competing like never before just to keep headcount and tuition revenue steady. Add to the equation the growing number of interstate online degree programs, corporate investments into higher education, and the fact that college admissions is being rebuilt from scratch thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recruitment prospects in the next couple of decades have never looked so bleak and unpredictable.


Wow. Okay. That was tough. My top strength according to the CliftonStrengths assessment is “Positivity,” so all of that doom and gloom was really beginning to… well… make me less positive.

Are times going to be tough? Sure. But does that mean enrollment at your institution must suffer? Not necessarily, especially if you haven’t yet fully invested in retention.

What does “fully investing in retention” look like? Here is a sample of tasks and issues your staff would be addressing:

  • monitoring new students after the hustle and bustle of orientation is over;
  • meeting with faculty and staff on the front lines to discuss individual student issues;
  • coordinating interventions and checking back on their progress;
  • building rapport and trust among faculty and staff around retention;
  • initiating, managing, and evaluating new retention programs and retention scholarships;
  • proactively working with students to address barriers such as registration holds and nonpayment;
  • creating and administering retention-specific student surveys;
  • forecasting enrollment based on real-time retention knowledge.

Now is the time to implement a retention-specific student survey so you can improve your retention and graduation rates this academic year. Students are very truthful about their likes, dislikes, and concerns. If you ask them the right questions and at the right time, you can make a huge difference in their ability to overcome obstacles!

Dutcher LLC can help you develop your own fully-customizable survey – quickly and affordably.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you improve your student success, progression, and graduation rates to stabilize your enrollment for years to come.

K. Brandon Stokes – Higher Education Consultant.