In brief

In brief

  • Listening to the wants, needs, and intentions of students and parents allows institutions to make more informed decisions in these uncertain times.
  • We analyzed 68M+ social media posts from 25M+ authors representing a mix of large (15k+ students) public and private, 4-year institutions.
  • We looked at posts from February-May 2019 and February-May 2020 in order to compare trends across years.

What we found

40% of conversations are about health and safety, eating into mindshare of education and fall plans

Universities need to be careful about making premature decisions about the fall; those that put students first and watch out for their health and safety will be better positioned to attract and retain.

Students are concerned about losing much of the campus experience, putting pressure on universities to provide digital tools and services for students to stay engaged both in and out of class.

While this fall is top of mind, institutions also have to keep in mind how to manage the enrollment cycle for fall 2021.

↓80% Conversations about admissions process are down compared to this time last year

Implications for universities

  1. Continue to do good in the world, engendering pride among your students and community.
  2. Put students first in your decisions when creating your plan for the fall.
  3. Respond quickly to an ever-changing situation, communicating clearly.
  4. Develop high quality online (not remote) courses in the event they are needed in fall.
  5. Create a game plan for providing a high-quality student experience digitally and communicate this plan.
  6. Mitigate enrollment drops in fall by reevaluating financial aid for those with affordability concerns and reaching out to waitlist students in your nearby geography.
  7. Adjust application process.

Virtual events

  • Virtual graduation was a focus of sadness and celebration in March
  • Virtual tours have risen 228%
  • Virtual orientations picked up in April

Clubs and activities

Students mentioned bringing offline activities onto social platforms – Greek Life, student rallies, options for community service and book clubs.


Students are excited about sports despite uncertainty but want them done safely. 47% about protocols for future, 3% about virtual team workouts.

Study abroad

Conversation has decreased by 18% YOY; however 2% of students are asking about virtual study abroad programs and the conversation is trending upwards.

Career services, job and interviews

Students expect support from their institution, especially as internships have gone virtual and jobs have dried up in a frozen economy.

View All
Students prioritize experience over safety and education, putting pressure on universities to provide tools and services that stack up to in-person.

Jonathan Fry

Managing Director – Consulting, Education Lead

Samantha Fisher

Managing Director – Education, Health & Public Sector

Kevin Ellenwood

Managing Director – Accenture Interactive


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Higher Ed: Flattening the enrollment curve

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