Many colleges and universities may begin to feel the squeeze of lower enrollment figures in the next couple of years as student loans prove harder to come by and as the demographic bulge eases. The number of annual public high school graduates will peak in 2009 and not return to the same level for about 9 years. A projected decline in white applicants will be partially offset by higher numbers of applications from Asian, black, and Hispanic students.
These projected changes could prove beneficial to niche colleges — institutions that have historically served women, blacks or specific religious groups — if their mission is properly marketed. According to a survey by Carnegie Communications, students apply to niche institutions because of the ‘school's fundamental identity'.
The two leading issues to be addressed in marketing campaigns are:
- Perceived expense
- Perceived lack of diversity
Work with the niche colleges in your market to improve their message and remember to specifically emphasize the success of graduates, the excellence of education and unique qualities of campus life.[Sources: Strauss, Valerie. Applicant Pool Forecast To Shrink and Diversify, Washington Post staff writer, March 2008; Carnegie Communications Release, 12.03.08]