The Ultimate Balancing Act

The Ultimate Balancing Act

Managing Enrollment Demands When Staffing Resources Are Low

Meghan OblaznyBy Meghan Oblazny|July 19, 2022

Over the past two years, higher education institutions have experienced turnover at an alarming rate. The Chronicle of Higher Education found that U.S. colleges and universities have shed more than 650,000 employees since the pandemic started. And the U.S. Department of Labor has not seen such a rapid decline in academic employment since it began keeping industry records in the late 1950s.

One of the most trusted and frequently used higher education job search engines,, lists over 4,500 available positions within admissions, enrollment management, and marketing across the country. These positions range from Vice President of Enrollment Management and Director of Marketing and Communications to CRM Specialist and Admissions Counselor. In fact, when surveying 20 random colleges and universities around the nation, we found there were 192 open positions. That’s an average of 10 per school in admissions, enrollment management, or marketing alone.

While the darkest times of the pandemic seem to be behind us and colleges have welcomed students back to campus, many schools are still feeling the hardships of the past two years. As an admissions team, you have adapted to communicate, think, and work differently. However, you’re also being asked to do a lot more with less, and you may not have the bandwidth to keep admission and enrollment projects moving along, the manpower to stay ahead of higher education technology that is ever changing, and continue to be innovative and competitive.

Let’s see how this translates into realistic situations.


Scenario 1: Reduction in Admission Counselor Staff

The pandemic has shown us that we can work from (almost) anywhere. Many dedicated admission counselors have had a taste of what a more flexible schedule feels like and have decided to leave their positions for employment elsewhere.


Scenario 2: Operations Staff and/or CRM Specialists Decide to Leave

You have innovative, data-oriented, results-driven operations staff and/or CRM specialists who maintain the flow of the application process and are the backbone of your student information system and data, but they’ve decided to move on in their careers.


Scenario 3: Decreased Marketing Staff

Maintaining a strong relationship between your marketing department and admissions team is vital for a continued stream of qualified students to be attracted and recruited for enrollment. It may not be only your admissions office that’s seeing a decline in staffing, but your marketing department could be losing valuable members, as well.

Solutions to consider:

  1. Utilize Your Internal Resources: Offer internship or employment opportunities to reliable students seeking experience in higher education admissions, marketing, or data analysis and information technology.
  2. Expand the Role of Your Student Ambassadors: Hire reliable student ambassadors to complete admission tasks such as phone and email follow up, and scheduling appointments for counselors. This can free up your admission staff to be more available for travel, connecting with prospective students, and application review and decision-making.
  3. Employ a Higher Ed Marketing Partner: Allocate unused budgets toward allowing a higher education marketing agency to take on admission and marketing projects for you. In my role as a Marketing Strategist, I partner with a diverse mix of colleges and universities, working with them on an ongoing basis to discuss unique strategies and tactics to improve their enrollments. I know that the leaders at these schools value the fact that I am there as a partner to focus on opportunities and ensure campaigns are running effectively.

It’s refreshing to see smiling faces on campus, open house events running again, and a more vibrant energy among faculty and staff. So, while certain difficulties of the past two years remain, there are effective solutions available to keep recruitment competitive, admission projects and systems running, and budgets under control.

To discuss your unique situation and the pain points you’re currently facing, please reach out to us. Our experienced strategy team would love the opportunity to bring innovative solutions to the table and develop a strategic plan to help shape your next fall class.

About Spark451

The higher education marketing experts at Spark451 truly understand the pain points you’re currently facing and will bring innovative and creative solutions to each project. Senior search, sophomore/junior search, admitted yield, E-communication plan workflows, graduate enrollment marketing, digital media campaigns, and customized CRM support are just a few of the tailored services Spark451 offers its clients. We’d love to brainstorm your unique situation with you and develop a strategic plan to help shape your next fall class. Connect with Spark451 today.