Why your applicants say no

It’s the question that keeps registrars and their recruitment teams up at night.

“Why did students reject our offer of enrolment?”

For many higher ed professionals, this is the time of year when the reality of student rejection sets in, and conversations begin to centre on what can be done to turn things around in the next enrolment cycle. 

Your first instinct might be to take a look at your school’s internal data. But most of the time, this will only tell you about the students who did choose your school, not the ones who didn’t. After all, the ones who didn’t are out there somewhere, either enrolled in another school or no school at all. And if you want to grow your student body in a way that better reflects the values of your school, you’re going to need to find a way to learn more about the students who got away. 

This problem can be especially hard when you know for a fact that your institution is a perfect fit for certain students, but they decline your offer anyway. 

Did your school do enough to make these students aware of your new facilities, or your school’s reputation for excellence in a specific area? Were students happy with housing options on or around your campus? Were they discouraged by a lack of specific supports?

Not knowing these things can take a serious toll on your institution, and not just in a financial sense. 

Your school has a personality. It has values, goals, and dreams just like any person does. Its goals might include providing more high-quality learning opportunities to international students or first-generation learners. They could include enrolling more mature learners or direct-entry students looking to make it to the top of their chosen field. But every year, students from these groups might decline your offer. And worse yet, students from your chosen groups might be even more likely to decline than others. In this case, finding and engaging the students who say “no” is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity. 

Luckily, students who decline your school’s offer do not disappear back into the dark unknown once they’ve said no. With the proper research, you can reach them and find out exactly why they declined your offer. 

Our tool of choice for learning more about an applicant’s decision to decline a school’s offer of admission is the Acceptance Declined Study or ADS. This survey-based tool analyzes the motives behind this decision according to 50 different factors, and partners you with our dedicated and experienced team members to better understand the motives and attitudes of students who have declined your offer. 

If you were to ask us how enrolment research can be so exciting, our answer would be this: because over the past twenty years, we have seen that institutions can truly change, and that this change can have an enduring impact on students, faculty, and staff alike. We have also worked with enough inspired professionals to know that curious, committed individuals can use research and knowledge to transform the culture and community of their school for the better.


If you think the ADS is right for you and your team, we invite you to contact us to discuss how you can learn more about the factors that impact you and your enrolments. 

At Academica Group, we’re proud to work with hundreds of committed, passionate higher ed professionals who want to drive improvement at their institutions. By providing enhanced research capacity and expert guidance, we allow these professionals to work beyond resource limitations and seize more opportunities to positively impact the lives of their students, colleagues, and campus communities.

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