As a new wave of students are set to apply to college, UCR must consider how they are going to appeal the most to prospective students now that there are more challenges than benefits when it comes to surviving university online. In order for institutions such as UCR to stay afloat during a time of such financial turbulence, they need to find new ways to intrigue first years interested in attending.
It does not make sense for students to make a four-year commitment to a place that they cannot physically visit. Online events are not an effective replacement for students who would like to see campus life in person. While online events, workshops or tours were always an option, even before the coronavirus pandemic, most current students opt for everything to be in person because nothing beats the physical touring of a campus. Many students feel a sense of belonging after a physical visit to a campus. With this lack of belonging in mind, it is understandable that a first-year student would rather take a gap year and wait out the virus before they start their college journeys.
It is of the utmost importance now, more than ever, that UCR and other institutions change the way they market themselves. When a prospective student chooses a college to attend, visiting the campus is usually a huge factor in decision making, as a student gets to experience a college’s campus spirit, view clubs that might interest them and connect with current students. With this option gone, students might not be willing to pick a college while knowing next to nothing about the campus culture. Even if campus is closed, UCR should use footage of when campus was bustling in order to give prospective students a preview into what campus life really was.
If UCR and other institutions fail to adapt to the times and market themselves better, they will lose out on numerous potential applicants. The drop in admission rate would most definitely have a negative impact on a lot of different aspects of the university.
Low enrollment not only means a lack of revenue for UCR, but it also poses a threat to employees on campus. This will undoubtedly lead to many layoffs, especially for residential life workers. The UC will have more of a reason to lay off even more employees than they have already done. Already, the university has come under fire for the massive layoffs they’ve undertaken for their most vulnerable employees.
Not only will employees face the risk of losing their jobs, but it is also not outside the realm of possibilities that the UC will try to justify the drop in freshman enrollment in order to raise tuition. This will do nothing but hurt so many current students who are already struggling to pay full tuition for a less than quality online education.
With so many things at risk, all because of a drop in admissions, this gives more a reason for UCR to have a more streamlined marketing strategy. Struggling institutions such as UCR need to represent themselves in a way that best fits a prospective student’s desires. By giving students a glimpse into what life could be like on the UCR campus, it will reassure prospective applicants that they are making the right decision for their future college experiences. UCR could also do interviews with current students, especially those who lived on campus, and ask them what persuaded them into choosing UCR in the first place. All of these methods would offer a bit of hope for prospective students and give them something to look forward to, as well as helping UCR admissions numbers stay consistent.
When battling low enrollment, the way an institution represents itself to prospective students matters. The only way UCR and other universities will make it out alive in a post-COVID world depends on how they choose to market themselves. Offering a glimpse into what campus life could be like for students and reassuring a better learning experience will go a long way with persuading first-year undergraduates to apply for admission.