This post is drawn from a more detailed article in University Business.
In today’s environment, it has become increasingly difficult for some traditional, four-year institutions to meet enrollment goals for first-year students. Hence, enrolling transfer students brings a number of advantages to campuses. College transfer students typically generate higher average net tuition revenue than freshmen, do not create large pressures on housing, and enroll in upper-level courses that typically have capacity. These benefits should motivate campuses to shift the balance of new student enrollment to include a larger portion of transfers.
However, changes in the higher education marketplace are now making it more challenging to enroll transfer students, too. The combined effects of the declining number of high school graduates and the recent decline in enrollments at two-year public institutions has made the college transfer student market increasingly competitive. National enrollments are down, 2.6 percent lower in fall 2016 than in 2015, at the largest source of transfer students for four-year public and private institutions, two-year public institutions.
Enrollment outcomes for college transfer students behind goal
As can be seen below and in our 2016 Recruitment Conversion and Yield Rates benchmark survey, four-year institutions struggled to achieve transfer enrollment targets.
In addition to the reduced available pool of college transfer students, transfer students are harder to track and communicate with than traditional students. According to RNL research, more than 50 percent of transfer applications to private institutions are “stealth,” meaning students were not part of the institutions’ inquiry pool prior to submitting their applications. Admissions offices at four-year institutions cannot, of course, actively recruit transfer students at other four-year institutions. Paired with the reality that transfer students from two-year publics may not transfer directly following degree attainment, waiting two years or more, it is difficult for institutions to engage in active marketing campaigns to generate interest from potential transfer students, having to rely more on “boots on the ground” recruiting and websites. [Read more…]