Inquiry volume for higher education rose two percent year-over-year in September, reports Gray Associates, a higher education strategy consulting firm. Inquiries are now higher for the most recent five months.
“After several years of decline, it is gratifying to see monthly results come in ahead of last year, indicating somewhat stronger demand for higher education,” said Gray Founder and CEO Robert Atkins. "Higher inquiry volume could be indicative of a resurgence of demand for some for-profit programs since these institutions rely more on inquiries than public and independent non-profit colleges and universities," he added.
An inquiry is a prospective student’s request for information about an academic program or institution prior to submitting an application. Gray tracks inquiry volume as part of its Program Evaluation System, which colleges and universities use to make decisions about which programs to Start, Stop, Sustain or Grow.
The gains in inquiry volume came from online programs and institutions, up eight percent year-over-year in September. Inquiries for on-campus programs were six percent lower.
Also, rural states tended to have the largest growth in inquiry volume, while volume fell or was flat in three of the five largest U.S. cities. Arkansas showed the largest gain, up 18 percent. North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and West Virginia also saw increases of 14.34 percent or more.
Among the five largest cities, Los Angeles showed the most growth, up 18 percent, followed by Houston, up six percent. Inquiry volume was flat for New York, down two percent for Chicago and off by five percent for Philadelphia.
The higher growth in inquiries from rural states is consistent with the growth in online programs, Mr. Atkins noted. “While total demand from these states isn’t that high, demand per capita tends to be high.”
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About Gray Associates
Gray Associates, Inc. is a higher education consulting firm. We help clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies to maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies. Gray uses proprietary analytical techniques and an industry-leading database combining information on inquiry volumes, Google searches, demographics, competition, and employment, to help faculty and school leadership develop institutional strategies, select programs, pick locations, and prepare curricula.
Bob Atkins, CEO of Gray Associates, believes that a healthy program portfolio rests on four strong foundations, he explained. They are; fit with the institutional mission, alignment of academic standards and student outcomes, healthy program markets with strong student demand and employment prospects for graduates, and enough contribution-positive programs to fund mission-critical programs that may lose money.
Ellis Simon, 516-524-6804, Ellis.Simon@GrayAssociates.com
Mark Keleher, 617-366-2831, Mark.Keleher@GrayAssociates.com