The New York Times published an article last week that went viral on LinkedIn. 

The topic? 


Specifically, how enrollment has fallen sharply on a large scale. 

Quick Overview of Article

Here are some brief stats from the New York Times piece: 

  • 662,000 fewer students enrolled this year, which is a 4.7% decline from last year. 
  • Low to moderate income students are hit the hardest as public institutions and community colleges saw the steepest drop.
  • It’s no longer credible to solely blame the pandemic. Its economic and cultural ripple effects both have put the value of a college education into question. 

With a nationwide ‘enrollment crisis’ on the horizon, we want to consider something else contributing to this data. 

The Nationwide Baby Bust

A big reason we’re seeing a descent in enrollment numbers could be tied to the overall population growth, or lack thereof. 

Right now in the United States, many people are choosing to hold off on having kids, having fewer kids, or deciding to not have children altogether. We’ve seen this drop in birth rates emerging throughout the first part of the 21st century, and who’s to blame them? 

After the turn of the century, our country experienced a terrorist attack followed by a lengthy war, a housing crisis and recession, and now a pandemic trailed by a record-breaking inflation. When our stability comes into question, the confidence in raising a family is hit hard. 

Without kids growing up into prospective students, we have a smaller pool of applicants. And unfortunately, we have yet to hit the bottom. The impending 2026 cliff we’ve been staring at has only been further exacerbated by the pandemic. 

But fear not! There are ways to weather the storm and keep your enrollment numbers steady. 

The Parish Group’s Solutions to Overcoming the Enrollment Odds 


First and foremost, it takes data-informed campaigns to have a successful cycle. When you base your strategy on hard facts and numbers, you will find this precision beneficial when turning that interested applicant into an enrolled student. 

Multimodal Outreach

Further, it’s important to have strategic multimodal outreach to sway a prospect towards your campus. Don’t put your eggs in one basket when it comes to communications. Use social media, phone calls, emails, video calls, and in-person conversations to create personalized communication with a prospective student to move them further down the funnel. 

Premier Programs 

Additionally, we’re seeing more and more the importance of sought-after programs in colleges and universities to attract applicants. At the end of the day, that’s what the student is there for: to earn a stellar education in their specific field of interest. 

Investing in the quality of education and programs will in turn carry over into your enrollment numbers. As well, in demand majors lead to better student satisfaction, which in turn feeds into persistence and better retention.  

Energized and Informed Staff 

Human resources are a huge factor in keeping enrollment rates up. Investing in your admissions counselors and staff’s professional development through training will help them perform better in the role and likewise, you’ll see numbers increase. Their energy and motivation will feed off into the relationships they’re building with prospective students. 

Don’t Fear the Future!

And if you haven’t already, it’s time to embrace modernity. Those schools who’ve grasped and incorporated modern techniques into their enrollment strategy are the ones doing well. As well, influence marketing is just around the corner (with a number of schools already utilizing it!)

The Big Four

When evaluating successful enrollment cycles, we’ve noticed four components that work in harmony when they’re in-sync and optimized:

  1. Search 
  2. Personalized Communications
  3. Social Media
  4. Well-trained Counseling Staff

If one or more of these parts are off, you’ll see a ripple effect in enrollment deficits. 

Let’s Talk Strategy 

If you’re concerned about this overarching enrollment trend and want to talk strategic solutions, we have your back. Schedule a meeting with one of our Enrollment Strategists at 828-505-3000 or email us at