How Analytics Can Help Higher Ed Course Enrollment

Over the years, higher education has continued to progress the online capabilities of both course offerings and enrollment processes. In fact, a 2014 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group reported that online enrollment growth far exceeded that of overall higher education. Yet there are issues that remain constant when it comes to higher education, one of these is enrollment rates. Luckily, there are some solutions that can help educational institutions identify areas of improvement by using analytics.
A Look into Low Enrollment
When courses don’t have enough enrolled students in a course by a certain date, often the course is canceled. In this case, the college can attempt to reallocate the resources to offer a different course or the same course at a different time. But even the newly scheduled course runs the risk of being cancelled, leaving students scrambling to find a replacement course and leaving educational institutions dealing with the financial loss. So how can educational institutions combat enrollment issues?  
Currently, some colleges and universities allow a course with low enrollment to start, in the hopes that more students will enroll during the late registration period. However, if the course doesn’t fill by the second week, the course can still be canceled. This obviously isn’t a fool-proof way to create a course enrollment strategy, luckily, analytics can help higher-education fine-tune their enrollment process and provide successful solutions for both the institution and its students.
The enrollment process brings prospective and current students to the computer so they can peruse the course catalog and register online. This provides the perfect opportunity for higher education institutions to leverage analytics to learn about their students and their preferences. We’ve worked with numerous higher ed organizations to help them create an analytics program driven to create a more robust data story for their institution. There are many different solutions to leverage but we will outline a few of our favorite items that can be tracked to help with enrollment rates.  
Data Tracking
Recording course search criteria such as keywords and time frames can help colleges determine what courses their students are interested in or when students want to attend class. Tracking when someone clicks on a specific course description can further show that students have interest in the specific course.  
If no one is searching for the course or even viewing the course description, then perhaps the course title is too vague or even outdated. If the course description is getting high traffic, but still low enrollment, then perhaps the course details are not clear or the scheduled time is too inconvenient for many students.
User feedback is important, it is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your target audience. After all, what are the kids into these days? By implementing a VoC solution to your website, you can ask straight out what is important to the user. It also allows the user a chance to bring up errors or issues they come across on your site. If a button isn’t working or a course code was entered wrong, the feedback form will provide valuable insight into why you aren’t getting the results you should be getting.
Big Data, Not a New Course for Education
Data collection and analysis is not a new concept for education – educational institutions use data in regards to testing, financial aid, etc. But collecting analytics on the user interactions on a web site can provide much more information in regards to prospective students. From what pages are being visited to where a user is located, this data can provide useful insights currently under-utilized. 
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