APSCU Session: What Motivates a Student to Enroll?

By Joel Borgmeier

Datamark Enrollment Research
Decision to Enroll research presented by Datamark and Kaplan University

So as you likely read in our last post, we thought our blog was a great stage to share content from our APSCU sessions with those who may have missed our presentations, or even those who attended but wanted to dive into the details on your own time.

We were fortunate enough to team up with Joeri Weyenberg, Vice President of Marketing and Student Acquisition at Kaplan University to present “What Motivates Prospective Students? Examining the Decision to Enroll.”  The full deck we presented is loaded with data, charts, graphs and more – if you would like to access it, please click here for the complete presentation.

We jumped in with the results of our research study with private sector prospects, applicants and enrollees, where we concluded the following:

  • When a prospective student decides that he or she wants to return to school, it is often because he/she is striving to reach a goal such as change career paths, increase earning potential, need more satisfaction, etc.
  • The majority of prospective students start the research process within one to two months of deciding to further their education.
  • The primary sources of information are school websites and internet searches.
  • The most important factors in narrowing down their school consideration list are if the program of interest is offered and the cost of the program.
  • About one-third of prospective students did not apply due to financial reasons.
  • Of those who did not apply, 62% still intended to further their education.
  • The three most important factors when deciding which school to enroll in are accreditation, amount of financial aid provided and program cost.

This data in and of itself is great.  But it really becomes powerful in the way that schools apply this information along with the data insights they have about their own inquiry and enrolled student pool. It is important to note that the decision to enroll does not start at the generation of the inquiry, and it often has multiple touch points.

Enrollment growth rates among four-year private for-profits have been down the last couple of years, and growth in EDU search queries has also been down the last couple of quarters. Schools must therefore identify the decision to enroll early on in the enrollment process to have the greatest impact. Schools should also work to have a strong brand and brand controlled resources. This can help prospective students feel more connected to a school earlier in the decision making process.

When we incorporate our research into a school’s enrollment process – including the reasons prospective students seek out programs, how much time they spend gathering information and from where, what influences play a role in the process, and which factors carry the most weight in their decisions – schools can better:

  • Understand the student
  • Understand (and measure) the journey
  • Find white space and differentiate
  • Segment the enrollment process
  • Make post enrollment pull pre enrollment

The application of our research can help schools anticipate a prospect’s needs and fully engage that individual in each step, from research to selection to application to enrollment.

Learn more about the Research and Advisory Services provided by Datamark.

Thanks again APSCU for the inspirational platform, networking opportunities and crowd!

Joel Borgmeier

Joel Borgmeier is the Director of Business Intelligence at Helix Education, which delivers innovative, data-driven marketing exclusively in higher education. For the past eight years, Joel has managed the marketing research and marketing strategy groups at Helix Education. He previously worked in marketing strategy development roles for Clorox, Hewlett-Packard and GE. Joel graduated from the University of Utah.