Report on National Enrollment Trends: Institutions Using Advanced Analytics and AI Fared Nearly Three Times Better Than Most Colleges

Feb 15, 2022

This year’s enrollment report from Othot finds significant trends based on the use of data analytics for incoming fall 2021 classes

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Othot, developer of predictive and prescriptive analytics tools for higher education, today released the 2021 Higher Ed Enrollment Trends Pulse Report, with new findings on the impact of data science and advanced analytics on enrollment over the past year. The report—drawing on insights from more than 30 of colleges and universities across the United States—found that institutions using advanced analytics and data science have been able to buck national trendlines, even as enrollment and other key indicators of student progress continue to decline.

After the unprecedented effects of the pandemic in 2020, 2021 was expected to be a return to normalcy. However, the rise of new COVID-19 variants and other ongoing effects of the pandemic required many institutions to revert to virtual instruction. This resulted in less of a rebound than anticipated as reflected in the data.

To produce this analysis, a team of researchers and data analysts at Othot tracked partner institution deposit and summer melt trends and compared final enrollment data of new, first-time students to National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) trends. Key findings in the 2021 Enrollment Trends Report include:

  • Bucking the Trend: Institutions using predictive and prescriptive analytics were able to successfully counter enrollment declines seen throughout the broader higher education sector in 2021.
  • First-Year Enrollment Gains: Advanced analytics adopters performed significantly better overall, seeing a nearly 7% increase in new, first-time student enrollment, compared to a nationwide decline of 2.5% recorded by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.   
  • Deposits Increase Across the Board: Across the board, institutions using analytics also saw a double-digit increase (15%) in the number of student deposits by May 1, 2021 compared to May 1, 2020. Among the institutions studied for the report, private universities demonstrated the strongest increases in deposit rates across the spring admissions cycle. Public universities experienced declining deposit rates through May 1, 2021.
  • Summer Melt on the Rise: While deposits increased significantly, the number of admitted students who have made deposits who fail to register or matriculate—called summer melt—also increased. Both public and private institutions saw an increase in summer melt year-over-year, but the trend was more notable among private institutions who experienced more student melt in 2021 than 2020.

“Institutions are experiencing uneven enrollment fluctuations–and many of them are negative due to regional population declines and demographic changes. And the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic may not provide an expected increase in students due to the tight labor market. The answers to today’s enrollment challenges require a more sophisticated understanding of the complex variables that influence student success,” said Andy Hannah, co-founder of Othot. “As institutions confront trends that threaten to undo hard-fought gains in enrollment and student success, this research highlights the ways in which institutions can successfully leverage advanced analytics to weather the difficult national climate.”

The report reviews campus-specific data for institutions who are using Othot’s prescriptive modeling and advanced analytics for enrollment and student success. Colleges and universities use this suite of predictive and prescriptive analytics and data visualization to understand which students are most likely to enroll—and the most effective strategies to improve their likelihood to enroll further. To view the entire 2021 Enrollment Trends Pulse Report, visit https://www.othot.com/2021-higher-ed-enrollment-trends-pulse-report.

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Over the last three decades, Liaison has helped over 40,000 programs on more than 1,200 campuses more effectively manage admissions through its Centralized Application Service (CAS™) technology and complementary application processing and support services. The higher education technology leader supports its partner institutions’ total enrollment goals by pairing CAS with its Enrollment Marketing (EM) platform as well as the recently acquired TargetX (CRM) and advanced analytics software Othot.