Higher ed admissions have changed a lot over the course of the pandemic. Fewer students are choosing to attend college as high school graduation rates dwindle with the population decrease. 

How can admissions leaders overcome this unprecedented drop in interested students? 

At The Parish Group, we’ve begun to see success in the multi-class search approach. Rather than use all resources to appeal towards high school seniors, the multi-class search strategy shifts efforts across the board to target underclassmen like juniors and sophomores.  

The Biggest Decisions Require The Most Preparation

Think back to your high school years. Not the cringey parts, but the looming inevitably of prepping for your future. When did you seriously begin thinking about college? 

There are still classes to pass, after-school extracurriculars to attend, and a driver’s license to obtain. I remember my high school years as some of the busiest days of my life. Free time to plan the future was severely limited. 

There are so many different types of colleges and universities to choose from. Do I want a small or large student body? Private or public institution? Rural, idyllic campus or bustling, city jungle? 

Figuring out what future fits perfectly in your education plan takes time. Not to mention all the various application requirements—personal essays, letters of recommendation, and scholarship applications— could leave a highschooler realizing this competitive journey kicks off much sooner than expected, as early as sophomore year. 

Yet, higher ed administrators still tend to focus search efforts on highschool seniors. Sure, there are plenty of students who haven’t made their college selections before winter exams, but many have gotten their acceptance letters and are preparing for the next stage of their life.

Statistics from Our Client-Partner Institutions

A quick poll of recent college graduates shows that 43% of seniors had already made their college decision by the end of fall term.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

We pulled a data sample from three of our partner-schools to show how effective multi-class search was for the first year 2022 apps:

  • A private college in the south showed 45.3% of their first year 2022 apps originated from underclassmen search efforts.
  • A state regional university in the north pulled a whopping 71.6% of their 2022 apps from multi-class search efforts.
  • One of our HBCU partners saw 76.4% of their first year 2022 applications spawn from a multi-class approach. 

Invest in the Long-Term for the Best Results 

College is a long-term investment. Marketing higher education is too. It’s about getting your institution’s name out there, so when the time arrives, the customer will think first of you.

With the recent surge of Omicron, search efforts might look a little different than previous years. We might not be able to rely on the trusty campus tour or interested student meetups. Get creative and tap into other resources such as social media, email and mail campaigns, phone calls, and even Zoom Q&As for curious students.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that interactivity through multiple mediums is the key to maintaining engagement. 

Gains tend to be minimal at first when you gear search efforts towards juniors and sophomores, but making that first connection in a student’s college search journey could be the deciding factor between your school and a competitor’s down the line. 

This is also a great way to increase your academic profile over time. Targeting higher achieving students builds an affinity as they progress through their recruitment journey. 

Besides, who wouldn’t want to establish a relationship with a student so eager and prepared, they’re a year or two ahead of the curve? 

How The Parish Group Can Help Your Institution

Interested in how to seamlessly shift your search efforts to a multi-class approach? Contact The Parish Group at success@parishgroup.com or call our office at 828-505-3000.