As we all adapt to a world altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, ISTS is committed to keeping our clients informed about trends in higher education. Continued support of educational assistance programs is more important than ever: While many students may enroll/re-enroll later, we know that delays or gaps in enrollment can decrease the odds that a student will ultimately earn a degree or credential. We also know that students who delay earning a degree or credential must also postpone the earnings premium and workforce outcomes associated with educational attainment, both of which could help students and families recover from this crisis and cushion themselves against a future recession. Some schools are offering increased financial aid and federal CARES Act funds to eliminate financial barriers for new students and we are hopeful this will prove to have a positive impact.

Did you know? 

Most colleges that shifted to “test optional” or “test blind” during the pandemic don’t expect to restore a standardized testing requirement in admissions.

More findings from Fall 2020 compiled by ISTS’ Account Management team that may have an impact on your program:

  • Postsecondary enrollments declined 2.5% in fall 2020, twice the rate from fall 2019
  • Undergraduate enrollment was the primary driver for this decline, decreasing 3.6% or over 560,000 students from 2019
  • Most colleges expect enrollment to continue in decrease for 2021-22
  • A 13.1% drop in freshman enrollment is likely due to the pandemic, as the number of students graduating high school remained flat from 2019
  • Continuing students are doing well – almost all students who enrolled in the spring stayed enrolled in the fall

The good news?

Retention numbers are strong as many colleges doubled down on retention in the spring when the pandemic first hit. Colleges have or will increase recruitment of online, part-time, first-generation and minority college students.

     Student Type  2019  2020 
     Online Students  51%  62% 
     First-Generation College Students  68%  76% 
     Part-Time Undergraduates  39%  46% 
     Minority Students  77%  84% 

Our clients are our priority and we will continue to monitor these trends and provide updates and recommendations so that together we can optimize your application process and achieve your program goals.

If you are interested in talking about any of these trends in more depth, or in viewing benchmarking data for your program’s impact, please contact your ISTS Program Manager.