Examining the Student Decision-to-Enroll Process


It takes a tremendous amount of confidence and belief in self to be successful in college. Prospective students who make it all the way through the decision-to-enroll process usually have both. Two of the biggest decisions that can shape someone’s future are whether or not to go to (or back to) school, and if so, where to attend. After all, earning a degree requires a significant commitment of time, money, and resources, and isn’t something prospective students can or do take lightly.

In order to more effectively market to prospective students, it is critical that private sector schools themselves understand the prospect’s decision making process at each phase, from the initial idea to further his/her education, through research, selection, application, and enrollment. Helix Education’s Research & Analytics team has published new primary research that gives private sector schools deeper insight into a prospective student’s thought process and priorities so that they can deliver the information, support, and experience that person needs.

Study Objectives & Methodology

Helix Education conducted an extensive online research survey with a panel of private sector school prospects, applicants, and enrollees to better understand the motivating factors that played a part in their successful transition from one phase of the enrollment process to the next. A total of 761 people across the United States participated in the study. Participants were pre-screened so only those who met certain criteria were allowed to complete the survey. The sample was distributed across several segments: degree level interest (undergraduate/graduate), class format (online/campus), and enrollment stage (prospect/applicant/enrollee).

Highlighted findings from the survey are included in this paper.

Key Findings

Within each phase of the decision-to-enroll process, prospective students diligently weigh numerous factors that ultimately lead them to active student status at a particular school.

Survey highlights include:

Initial Interest & Inspiration: Undergraduate and graduate prospective students see the ability to achieve a goal they set for themselves as the most important reason to pursue higher education.

Research: The majority of prospective students start the research process within one to two months of deciding to go to school, and they turn to Internet sources for information.

Selection: Prospective students rated the program of interest being offered and the cost of the program as the most important factors in narrowing down their choices.

Application: Roughly one-third of prospective students did not apply due to financial reasons. However, of those who did not apply, 62% said they still intend to go back at some point to further their education.

Enrollment: Accreditation, amount of financial aid provided, and program cost are the three most important factors to enrollment.

Above is an excerpt from the “Examining The Student Decision-To-Enroll Process” white paper. Please download the complete white paper.