The competition is fierce

Who is the main competition of community colleges? Take a guess (no Googling)! Here are some multiple choice answers to give you a hint:

  • A) Other community colleges in the area
  • B) Other community colleges in the country
  • C) Four-year universities
  • D) None of the above

If you chose A, B, or C, I’m sorry—you are the weakest link.

If you guessed D, congratulations! Please pass go and collect $200.

If you did not guess D, you should read our blog on combating community college stigma.

However, if the answer is “none of the above,” the question still remains: who is the main competition of community colleges?

In a perhaps unprecedented community college enrollment decline in the last few years, it’s easy to see the trends. For both community colleges and four-year universities, less people are researching, touring, enrolling, or attending higher education institutions.

Community colleges are not in competition with other schools. Rather, their competition is students who don’t plan on attending college at all.

Fortunately, not all is lost; community colleges can recruit their competition. These three steps can help you raise the bar and win over uninterested students and meet to your student enrollment goals.

1. Build your brand

Not many community colleges think about themselves as a brand. But for prospective community college students, that’s exactly what they are. Community colleges have to spend significant efforts and resources into building and solidifying their brands.

A strong visual brand is a great start. However, consistently marketing this brand to your core audiences through social media, email, virtual tours, and other communication channels is vital.

Students who aren’t interested in enrolling in any type of college will be more likely to listen to your messages if they recognize your school’s brand.

2. Clearly advertise the cost advantages of attending your community college

High school students attend community college for many reasons, but affordability continues to be chief among them. In fact, it’s an important way to differentiate your educational offerings from others.

According to ECMC Group, the likelihood of high school students “attending a four-year school sank nearly 20% in the last eight months — down to 53%, from 71%” because of the crippling costs of attending a four-year institution.

If your community college celebrates a low tuition, fewer fees, or significant financial aid and scholarships, let your audience know! At the very least, a lower cost will entice potential students to look into your school if they have called it quits on college because of price alone.

3. Provide virtual resources to potential students

Students looking at college options expect virtual opportunities to explore your campus. Especially if they’re not interested in college at all, they may not want to make the commitment of an in-person visit.

A virtual alternative can go a long way towards lowering that barrier. For example, a virtual 360-degree tour allows you to showcase the student experience without anyone needing to set foot on campus.

A virtual tour is also a great opportunity to get your brand out there. Get students familiar with your school brand’s logo and colors through customizable buttons. Showcase your academics, including your support options to help all students succeed. And of course, you can add secondary information to your virtual tour to create a more comprehensive, immersive experience for students on the fence.

Fight the community college enrollment decline and win over the competition

Community colleges across the nation are in an enrollment crisis. But the good news is that you can fight this decline by winning over students who are uninterested in attending any school. Differentiating yourself and providing them with the best resources possible is the first step to convincing them that your community college is worth checking out.

When you get there, we’re ready to help.

Contact us to learn more about our virtual tour solution, and how we’ve helped other community colleges optimize their virtual experiences.

Want to see a community college who is thriving in spite of the community college enrollment decline?

Check out our Bristol Community College case study.