How does the NACAC vote to allow poaching affect yield and summer melt
After facing a nearly two-year Department of Justice antitrust investigation, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) made a monumental decision to remove several sections from the organization’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices (CEPP). Before the NACAC vote, these provisions limited transfer recruitment, and prevented schools from offering incentives for early-decision applicants and recruiting first-year undergraduates who had committed to another college.
The DOJ argued that these specific rules ultimately hurt students by limiting competition and their choices. What enrollment leaders face now is challenging. The traditional rules that have guided admissions and enrollment marketing and communication have been thrown out, making way for potential poaching and increased special incentives during the admissions process. Not even your first- and second-year students are safe—they could receive a transfer offer at any moment. We don’t know yet what the NACAC vote will mean for the enrollment landscape, but one thing is sure: This vote has given your team an opportunity to assess your recruitment, yield, and melt strategies and make changes now!
So, what does this mean for enrollment? The unsatisfying answer is that we just don’t know yet. Former NACAC President Stefani Niles told Inside Higher Ed that even though the NACAC vote “revoked its rules on early decision and non-poaching, that does not mean that colleges have to drop the rules.” However, we do know that it is inevitable that institutions will begin to take advantage of the rule changes. We’ve already seen that some colleges have been breaking the rules even before the NACAC vote.
What’s unclear so far is if this will be in the best interest of our students. On one hand, intensified competition could drive the high price of college down for families as schools vie with each other for deposits. Student loans now account for the second-largest category of household debt in the U.S., and this competition could benefit families as they seek to afford higher education. On the other hand, universities may prey on homesick or lonely students, offering enticing specialty housing or priority course selection for transfer applicants.
So, what can you do now to stand out? First, build community among admitted students during the yield season. This can help differentiate your school from the pack and fight against poaching techniques by connecting admitted students to each other, current students, and on-campus staff to answer questions and share their campus experiences. Next, connect with admitted students in a way they’re comfortable: online. Students expect online experiences that are easy to use and accessible on their mobile device. Shine brighter as the institution that is committed to technology and make it easier than ever to connect with your students faster. Finally, use the summer as a chance to bring your class of 2024 into the fold and introduce them to campus culture sooner. Peer mentors and online learning modules are a great way to make sure student questions are answered, deadlines are met, and your incoming students are part of the campus community from day one.
The jury is still out on how the changing enrollment landscape will take shape and what this means for your office, but there are ways to approach providing resources and creating a sense of belonging for your students that will protect against tempting offers from competing institutions and help your school to rise above the rest.