4 Best Practices for Online Admissions and Enrollment in 2022

If you’re a college official tasked with managing enrollment, you’re probably feeling a lot of uncertainty about what the new year has in store for you. Enrollment has been lackluster for most of the country’s colleges for close to a decade now, but there are positive signs emerging as well, such as the rising demand for online education. Add to this the massive disruption of the pandemic, and it’s difficult to say which way the numbers are poised to go. 

The good news is, a focused admissions and enrollment strategy can put your institution on the best footing possible no matter how exactly 2022 plays out. These four best practices can help you attract candidates, solidify your relationship with them through the pre-enrollment phase, and maximize the chance they will register with you as students. 

1. Ask What Your Target Audience Wants

Before you can launch effective marketing efforts for your enrollment strategy, you need to consider what your prospective online students are looking for. What are their primary motivations for enrolling in one college over another? Are they attracted to prestige? To convenience? To career security? To the excellence of the faculty? Get in the habit of evaluating your services from the perspective of prospective students, and it will enhance the rest of your strategy.

2. Digital Marketing – The PESO Model

Once you know who you’re targeting and what motivates them, you can leverage the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model of digital marketing. This model consists of four components:

  • Paid media refers to what you might think of as more traditional marketing—things like social media ads, SEM ads, and display ads.
  • Earned media refers to PR and publicity, placement in broadcast media, reviews by former or current students, and other third-party spotlights on your college’s offerings.
  • Shared media refers to sponsorships, charity relations, and other marketing that produces a benefit for two or more partners simultaneously.
  • Owned media includes your website, blog articles, and other content that you control.

Having a balance of these four types of content within your marketing campaigns means your work in any specific area can support and enhance efforts in the other areas, giving your enrollment plan the best chance of succeeding.

3. Meet Students Where They Are – Their Phones

Americans spend 3.5 hours a day on their phones, and that number is rising. This cellular affinity extends to all the most sensitive and important activities of our lives: 81% of consumers have managed their finances on their phones, for example. 

It makes sense for an admissions and enrollment strategy to account for this trend in consumer behavior. Connecting with students on their phones can be a powerful solution for growing online higher education programs. With digital transformation accelerating at institutions across the nation, this transformation should include mobile enrollment management processes.

4. Provide A Seamless Experience From First Inquiry 

Many prospective online students are lost after first contact with the college due to the siloed, disconnected nature of most traditional admissions resources and support. They might get a welcome email, or scattered resources from multiple entities, but that bare-bones approach leaves a lot of gaps open and a lot of details left unexplained. 

Within the complex admissions process, students may not know what steps to take next, or where to direct their questions, and in general they may begin to feel that they are not important. 


Providing a seamless experience that guides the prospective student from one step to the next, with a single point of contact for all questions, can go a long way toward boosting enrollment numbers. Emma™, a mobile enrollment advising app that acts as advisor, reminder service, traffic cop, and motivator all at once, is one tool that can shift the balance of enrollment in your favor.

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