Understanding the Enrollment Cliff in Higher Education

Colleges and universities depend on strong enrollment numbers. Tuition dollars cover many of the costs that make for a great academic experience: talented faculty, updated facilities, and cutting-edge technology. But with a drop in enrollment just a couple of years away, schools need to be ready to adjust their strategies. Here, MassLive Media Group offers insights on how higher education institutions can prepare for the enrollment cliff.

What Is the Enrollment Cliff?

While college students come from all ages and backgrounds, entering college the year after graduating high school is still the norm. Beginning in 2025, the number of traditional college-going students is expected to drop by up to 15%, a phenomenon known as the “Enrollment Cliff.”

The major driving factor is the Great Recession. Back in 2008, economic troubles meant that people had fewer children or delayed starting a family for a few years. Even as the country moved out of recession, birth rates didn’t increase in tandem. For several years now, higher education institutions have known that a drop in enrollment is imminent.

From 2025 to 2029, there will be fewer students reaching college-going age. But that’s not the only issue. The pandemic meant that more students are delaying attending college, taking a gap year, or working while attending school part-time. Altogether, this means that colleges and universities can expect to see a drop in enrollment very soon.

Applying Enrollment Strategies

Higher education institutions should be taking steps now to prepare for 2025’s enrollment cliff. Schools must develop customized campaigns to reach new groups of prospective students. Consider using these strategies:

Practice Early Engagement

If you’re focusing your outreach on high school juniors, you could be too late. Building relationships with prospective applicants throughout their first two years of high school can foster stronger connections and draw in students while they’re making critical decisions about their futures. Of course, you’ll also want to direct marketing efforts towards the parents of high school students, who are involved in the college search process and may be footing the bill, too. Speak to parents’ concerns about affordability, campus safety, and other key factors that can affect the college search process.

Tailor Your Messaging

Since your pool of traditional college-age students may be shrinking, now is the time to dedicate marketing efforts toward other demographic groups. Consider segmenting your marketing to target advertisements and content. For example, some schools offer degree or certificate programs that are hybrid or 100% online. These programs can be a great option for mid-career professionals who are looking to move into leadership positions or change industries. When marketing to this audience, you’ll want to use different strategies than you would with traditional students. Focus on flexibility and affordability. Promote the student services you offer to accommodate learners who are working full or part-time. Or share profiles of your faculty, highlighting their industry experience. By taking the time to understand each audience segment and their needs, you’ll deliver more compelling content.

Focus on Lead Nurturing

Social media campaigns, digital advertising, and content marketing can all help increase the number of applications you receive. But it’s not enough to simply build up your web presence – you have to make sure you’re providing helpful, quality content. Are you providing the information that students are looking for? How are you fielding queries from prospective students? Is your website intuitive, with clear information that’s easy to access? Taking the time to respond to inquiries individually will help students understand that your institution is a place where they will be heard and supported.

Improve Prospective Student Engagement with MassLive Media Group

If you’re concerned about a drop in enrollment numbers, MassLive Media Group is here to help. Our team develops strategic marketing campaigns for colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts and beyond. MassLive Media Group’s areas of expertise include:

For more information about our marketing services, contact us today.







Manufacturing Recruitment Strategy

Worker shortages in manufacturing industry is real. Highly skilled positions remain open as a significant portion of the manufacturing workforce is nearing retirement age. For manufacturers, building and maintaining a robust and skilled talent pool is key for both short-term and long-term hiring success.

Recruitment Marketing as a Relationship Builder, Not Just Candidate Sourcing

Don’t wait to be present until a position is open – consistently position your brand in front of both passive and active job seekers. Consistent branding creates a talent pool who is familiar with your company, benefits, culture and therefore more likely to consider you when looking to make a career change. Top of the funnel marketing tactics such as video and display make your brand presence known.

Build A Connection By Understanding Your Best Potential Candidates 

Develop personas, marketing strategies and campaigns specific to your common open positions. Different positions attract different types of candidates. Understanding the nuances allows you to more directly content with job seekers, to communicate your company story and to welcome them into your culture with a personalized approach. Seek out a recruitment marketing partner with a deep data bench, capable of developing audience segments, media placements and creative to speak directly to specific candidate audiences.

Enhance Your Job Board Presence with Display & Video

Placements on job boards are effective in reaching those actively seeking a position. However, other traditional marketing methods like targeted display and video allow companies to share their full story. More visual formats let prospective candidates see your benefits and experience your culture. Both elements that can cause them to choose you as their next employer – over your competition.


Healthcare Recruitment Strategy

A growing aging population, pandemic burnout and a ramp up of traveling nurse opportunities have put a strain on healthcare recruitment. Nurses are in high demand – with an abundance of employment options to choose from. How does your healthcare facility standout in this mad dash for employment?

Invest in the Community You Serve

Healthcare is essential to the community. Consider supporting the community you serve by sponsoring local events, job fairs and awards to keep your organization top-of-mind. Not only will these positive associations bring your organization front and center, it will also generate positive word of mouth among the community – reaching friends and families connected to potential candidates.

Showcase Company Culture

Give a glimpse of what its like to work at your organization on any given day. Show the people who work there, the halls to be walked and the benefits to be had. Video succinctly communicates positive culture through virtual tours, testimonials and more. Written testimonials and other content featuring current employees lend authenticity to your showcase.

Replenish Talent Pools with New Grads

New graduates are critical in helping to fill staffing gaps and to replenish talent pools. Utilize highly targeted strategies to reach new graduates, while still on campus, where they are spending their time. Hyper local mobile targeting puts your organization front and center among soon-to-be-graduating adding you to their consideration set for post-graduation employment.


Education Recruitment Strategy

Like most categories of business, education providers are facing faculty and staff shortages. Finding experienced and passionate educators and faculty continues to be a challenge. Education institutions should look beyond salary and benefits to larger strategies to drive interest and applications for the upcoming school year ahead.

Build Your Talent Pool with Year-Round Strategy

Primary education recruitment season begins at the end of the previous school year, with many schools starting from scratch every year. Establishing a year-round recruitment marketing strategy, allows you
to reach faculty and staff considering a change throughout the school year, adding them to your talent pool as the year progresses. Having a year-round plan also puts your institution front and center, outside of the more cluttered traditional recruitment period.

Utilize Your Community As A Recruitment Tool

Your community has the potential to be a unique selling point for your institution. Consider highlighting the quality of life – showing prospective employees the community you serve. Community events, local activities, cost of living and more can have pull over prospective employees looking to make a move or to enjoy a way of life your community offers. Partner with local events, local organizations and even your convention and visitors bureau to generate content about your community.

Job Fairs Help Build Awareness of Your Institution

Passive and Active job seekers join job fairs to learn more about prospective districts and institutions. By merely being present, among your competition, you can ensure that your district or institution is in the consideration set for educators looking to make a career move. Both in-person and virtual career fairs provide additional visibility and awareness for your institution.


Warehouse Recruitment Strategy

Warehouses are experiencing unprecedented growth thanks to a shift towards online shopping. As growth continues and timely shipping remains critical, warehouses face a continual shortage of workers.

Tout the Benefits That Make You Stand Out

Warehousing jobs are not historically known for good benefits and upward mobility. With changing demand and increased competition, more warehouse companies are adding long-term benefits and job training to their offerings. As an employer, tout benefits like 401Ks, employer matching and paid training as part of new hire packages. Talk about your openings more as long-term careers vs. short- term or holiday employment for additional appeal.

Get Connected In the Community

Grassroots community efforts and word of mouth tactics still hold strong in warehousing recruitment. Sponsoring local community events and job fairs raises brand awareness in the community, spreads positive sentiment about your organization and jump starts word of mouth. This simple activation makes your organization more likely to be noticed by potential job seekers and considered as a stable, future local employer in a future job search.

Local Jobs, Local Placements

Warehousing recruitment pulls most applicants and new hires locally. Very rarely to companies hire outside of their immediate market. Tap into the local job seeker scene through local job boards, job fairs and other local job posting opportunities. Local job seekers continually use these outlets to find new employment opportunities.


Trucking Recruitment Strategy

Facing an aging workforce and increased competition for new talent, the trucking industry struggles to keep recruitment pipelines full and trucking routes staffed. Trucking industries should look to implement full-funnel marketing strategies to not only attract active job seekers but it keep talent pools fresh with new prospects.

Address Trucking Industry Myths

Increase top-of-the-funnel prospects by introducing the benefits of a trucking industry careers to passive job seekers. Address potential concerns head-on, including hours, mileage goals and living conditions while highlighting employment benefits such as 401K matching, healthcare and time off. Video and written content are both great vehicles to communicate this information.

Stay in Touch with Prospects

Deciding to change careers can be a lengthy process for passive job seekers. Keep your talent pool active with periodic communication about your business, job openings and career benefits. Set up an email calendar, reaching out to a list of emails from those who you met at job fairs, submitted an inquiry or sent a full resume. Frequently post about your culture, the trucking industry and openings to keep your followers engaged.

Job Boards Are Important

Trucking applicants remain tapped in to local and regional job boards. A presence on local job boards and job aggregator sites provide you business with bottom of the funnel presence – reaching those interested in the truck industry and actively applying now.


Professional Recruitment Strategy

Finding outstanding talent that fits your culture is a concern for any business. Make the most of your time and resources by attracting qualified candidates that can hit the ground running and succeed within your organization. Identify quality talent and cultivate your talent pool with leading recruitment marketing strategies perfect for professional businesses.

Showcase Your Company Culture

Tell the story of your business, your history, your employees and more. The more a prospective employee knows about your operations and culture the more they are able to determine whether they are a match for your organization. Office tour videos, employee testimonials and other visuals can help to show daily life within your company.

Tailor Communications to Open Positions

Instead of deploying blanket recruitment ads for all positions in your company, consider developing custom creative and campaigns for each position. Messaging should focus on key benefits and operations of that role, showcase photos and videos of that segment of your business and speak directly to those candidates. Specific communication, drives more qualified applications – increasing your odds of finding a match while building up your talent pool - than general recruitment ads.

Use Job Boards to Reach Active Job Seekers

Job Fairs, local job boards and job board aggregators remain critical bottom-of-the-funnel tactics in securing applications for open positions. While other flashier tactics will fill the top of your funnel, these more nitty-gritty media elements provide a place for active job seekers to seamlessly apply for the positions they want – now.