Higher education marketing is a massive challenge. With rising pressure to stand out from the crowd, what are the future higher ed enrollment trends to watch for in a world that is entirely different than ever before?

Higher education marketing is shifting more than ever in 2023 away from conventional, in-person marketing and toward digital marketing, webinars, and virtual events. For schools, this means staying current on new trends that are more appealing to current and prospective students.

Though the post-COVID-19 situation produced significant disturbance among students, resulting in lower enrollment rates for higher education, higher ed institutes started implementing out-of-the-box strategies for marketing their programs. Higher education marketing was forced to adapt to Gen Z in lockdown.

Catering to the needs of today’s tech-savvy students is challenging, so keep an eye on these enrollment trends in higher education and incorporate them into your next enrollment campaign.

Student Enrollment Stats

  • Between 2020 and 2030, undergraduate enrolment is expected to rise by 8% (from 15.9 million to 17.1 million students).
  • Nearly 16 million students were enrolled in degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States in the spring of 2022.
  • By 2030, female students will constitute around 57.5% of the total student population, currently, the figure is 57.4%.
  • 8 million international students will be enrolled in foreign higher education institutions by 2030.
  • Community colleges have lost almost 20% of students aged 18-to-24 and 16.2% of older students
  • According to the Niche report, the five highest-interest majors include business, nursing, psychology, biology, and medicine. 
  • 55% of enrolled college students in the US are white.
  • College enrollment of men aged 18 to 20 years old decreased by 9.8%, while for women, this percentage was 5.8%.

10 Higher Education Enrollment Trends to Inspire Your Marketing Campaigns

Every year, fresh students graduate from high school and begin their search for a place to further their education. They are inundated with pamphlets, speakers, advertisements, and recommendations from others around them, all of which attempt to guide them to one higher education school or another. 

As Gen Z is tech-savvy with a short attention span, it is necessary to deliver information in a concise and entertaining manner so they can get the message without losing interest. 

A good marketing approach may help a school stand out from the crowd. Let’s find out the current college enrollment trends and how you can devise a marketing strategy according to them.

1. Poor marketing and branding strategies are failing to attract new students:


Most institutions employ antiquated methods to market their classes or courses to prospective students, which can negatively impact your school’s reputation and enrolment.

Where do higher education institutions go wrong when deciding on a marketing strategy?

Marketing knowledge is limited or non-existent

Any higher ed strategy should be appropriately prepared to align with the goals and marketing resources. Unfortunately, most higher ed institutes are overly ambitious and frequently use marketing strategies incompatible with their persona. 

Lack of focus

A marketing effort will be less effective if it does not target the intended audience in the case of higher ed prospective students. Instead of following student preferences and choices, most institutes want to impress the stakeholders. Such marketing methods will not influence student decisions unless tailored to prospective students’ demands. It will only result in low enrollment. Therefore, higher education institutes must thus maintain a sense of direction at all times.

A well-planned higher ed marketing strategy will bring services closer to the students. Higher education institutes should begin by getting to know their prospective students and what they prefer. Then, finding a means to connect with your students might help you provide customized information to them. As a result, institutes must adopt marketing techniques that align with the demands of their prospective students.

2. Revisit Your Pricing Structures:


Many students who desire to pursue higher education are concerned about the cost of attendance. And, because of increased demand and a lack of governmental finance, tuition and fees continue to rise at a dizzying pace. As a result, higher education institutions now charge more than double what they did in 2008. For example, tuition at public universities and colleges climbed by more than 60% in Alabama and Arizona.

Aside from that, students must consider the expense of boarding quarters, food, books, and other extra expenditures when pursuing a college degree. In addition, those who rely on online learning must budget for a fast internet connection and a computer at home. As a result of rising higher education prices, most students either drop out or do not pursue a degree at all.

Considering the enormous expenses related to higher education, cutting costs is one of the best approaches to improving your institute’s standing. In addition, offering discounts, incentives, and special offers can help your school become more accessible and improve the enrollment number.

3. Consider Partnering With Financial Institutes to Offer Student Loans:


Higher education institutions can collaborate with middle and high school guidance counselors to discuss the alternatives available through federal and state assistance programs, particular institutions, and other sources. They can also work with advisers to clarify cost-effective paths to certificate or degree completion, such as a community college associate degree and credit transfers to four-year colleges.

Partnerships might include various organizations interested in higher education and student achievement. Walden University, for example, collaborates with other organizations throughout the state, such as the Helios Education Foundation,  Arizona GEAR UP, and College Depot to provide intensive advisory services, scholarships, and real-time interventions to students who might not otherwise have the resources to access and succeed in college.

4. Focus More on Nurturing Leads:


Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with prospective customers by engaging them along the buyer’s journey. It entails gently guiding customers toward a purchase by offering the appropriate information at the right times.

Lead generation alone will not result in a sale. In reality, 96% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy.

The advantages of nurturing leads and improving the flow of your sales in the form of enrollment numbers are as follows:

  • To ensure that prospective students move through the enrollment funnel smoothly, making the admission process as simple and easy to understand as possible is essential. This can be achieved by providing clear instructions, minimizing the number of steps involved, and simplifying application forms.
  • It can potentially increase your conversion rate—the proportion of leads who become customers.
  • It can inspire potential consumers to opt for more courses, lowering your customer acquisition cost (CAC), the average amount of money spent to acquire a single customer.

5. Take Advantage of Your Brand Values:


Education is provided in the same manner at every college and university; the brand value distinguishes it while emphasizing the unique aspects of joining a particular school.

With hundreds of higher education brands competing for students, graduate schools must build distinct identities based on their history, faculty, successful alums, facilities, and other distinct competitive advantages.

Creating brand value by offering potential job opportunities, assured financial development, and research advantages allows institutions to attract diverse personas by simply emphasizing the brand’s worth.

You must improve your value proposition and message. Students have put their educational goals on hold as they deal with the crisis and an uncertain economic future. At a time when the value of a college degree is being questioned, higher education institutions must show its worth and assist students in understanding it in real-world applications. Career viability has always been essential; it is now critical.

Now is the moment to fine-tune your value proposition and provide content demonstrating to students that their chosen route will lead to a bright future. You must demonstrate achievement to kids rather than merely informing them.

Content marketing for universities can be an effective way to increase enrollment by providing valuable and informative content that helps potential students make informed decisions about their education.

6. Offer Virtual Tours and Courses Demo to Engage Students:


The campus tour is still essential to determine which university is best for practically every prospective student. But what will happen if those trips become more difficult or impossible?

In this instance, virtual experiences are a natural alternative. They enable institutions to offer students an in-depth view of the campus without requiring them to visit or even design their own self-guided tour. You can also host webinars and promote your virtual events

 Wayfinding, recognizing distances across campus, and even public transit routes are all essential parts of the puzzle.

For example, Mount Saint Mary’s University’s 360° Tour is an excellent example of a virtual campus tour that replaces most of what an in-person tour would deliver. It efficiently displays the institution’s campus and student life, giving visitors a linear tour of all the university offers.

Mount Saint Mary’s mixes that interactive, immersive experience with a simpler Interactive Map that focuses on more efficient navigation options. Its Parking and Transit category, for example, covers everything from shuttle stops to electric car shuttle stations. In contrast, its Wellness category includes sites such as the university’s farmer’s market and fitness centers.

7. Include Trending Courses in Your Curriculum


A college degree opens up additional professional choices. As a result, selecting a subject in college requires a significant amount of planning and deliberation for many individuals. According to the US Department of Education, academic quality, the desired field of study, and job placement are the top 

variables influencing students’ college course choices. According to Kiplinger, the top 10 courses that are lucrative for students are:

  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Physics
  • Operations Management
  • Management Information Systems

Institutions are now collaborating with companies to guarantee that employees’ skills are appropriate for their professions. If they start offering the most sought-after course in collaboration with specific industries, the students will obtain the necessary skills, ultimately leading to higher employment chances. In addition, these enterprise training organizations collaborate with colleges and utilize their extensive networks to assist businesses in closing the tech skills gap in their workforce.

8. Embrace Online Program or Distant Learning Approach


Online education is one of educational technology development’s most rapidly expanding sectors. For example, according to Education Data,  the percentage of all college students who took at least one online class increased from 33.1% in 2017 to 34.7% the following year. Meanwhile, in the autumn of 2020, 97% of college students reported ultimately moving to online education. With its consistent and rising rates, online education remains the primary driver of postsecondary enrollment growth.

Data from numerous sources demonstrate that pupils respond more positively to online education. Moreover, it provides several advantages that cannot be obtained in a typical classroom. For one thing, it allows students more flexibility, allowing them to attend classes while juggling other obligations.

With in-person classes offering health dangers, the expansion of online learning is projected to accelerate as the COVID-19 epidemic continues. The change to online learning will also require educational institutions to improve their websites to be more mobile-friendly and to deliver a better overall user experience. In addition, according to Annertech, schools are restructuring their courses to be easily accessible and to remain competitive now that students are not restricted to enrolling in a particular location.

9. Incorporate Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)


Social-emotional learning is widespread. Its purpose is to assist students in improving their self-awareness, social awareness, and interpersonal skills, to help them work successfully in teams, and build their self-regulation abilities and capacity for responsible decision-making.

It aims to improve students’ emotional intelligence and empathy, as well as their grit, tenacity, and persistence, as well as to create a growth mindset and the ability to self-manage emotions.

Adult students in higher education in the United States (U.S.) are as diverse as the country’s over 4000 colleges and institutions. With equal-access mandates and rising participation rates in higher education for students with disabilities and adult students, colleges must discover suitable and effective ways to provide accessible resources that benefit and support all students. In addition, because each student is unique, instructors must employ various tactics tailored to students’ multiple talents and intelligence, allowing all students to be genuine participants in a learning community.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) tactics foster cognitive development abilities, enhance student concentration and motivation, strengthen student-teacher interactions, and boost student confidence and achievement. More emphasis should be placed on students’ emotions in higher education to promote students’ involvement in the classroom, social awareness (i.e., respecting others, understanding various views, and assisting those in need), motivation, and academic accomplishment.

Considering the recent focus on SEL by the students, it becomes crucial for schools to utilize this learning type to facilitate the students and provide the best approaches for them. 

10. Encourage Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)


DEI stands for diversity, equality, and inclusion and is a hot subject in many industries, including higher education. When it comes to recruiting and hiring, advancement, and strategic decision-making, many firms prioritize DEI.

DEI is vital among a student body, and students must see DEI as a priority at their institution or university.

For example, it has been demonstrated that an emphasis on DEI in faculty recruiting may influence student results at an institution. On campus, diversity fosters cultural knowledge and critical thinking. In addition, a diverse staff may provide students from historically underrepresented backgrounds with a particular type of assistance.

DEI should be regarded as “mission-critical” in higher education. The heart of education is a varied faculty and student body, as well as an atmosphere that supports equity and inclusion of all viewpoints. Increasing DEI can help us get closer to the main objective of education while also improving student learning and results.

A diverse set of viewpoints results in a more vibrant and dynamic academic atmosphere. People with varying life experiences ask varying questions. They enhance conversations and may spark contestation or disruption of the current quo, fueling the emergence of new information, innovation, and deeper understandings.


The present enrollment trends in higher education provide a glimpse of what the future holds for individuals wishing to enhance their education at this level. Therefore, it is crucial for educational institutes to devise their marketing strategy as per the latest trends. 

You can invest your time to follow the enrollment trends or hire a higher education marketing agency to revamp your brand. Considering the competition in the education sectors, higher education institutes must always be updated with new education marketing trends in the market. With a proper enrollment marketing strategy, you can get more students resulting in higher revenues!