How to Conduct a Non-Enrollment Survey | Higher Education Market Research

The higher education space can be extremely competitive for colleges and universities. This is especially true for niche programs with only a few key players in the market. 

How, though, does an institution separate itself from competitors in the eyes of prospective students?

This is a question our higher education market research company aimed to answer for an Upstate New York college in a recent study. In this case, the best approach was to speak directly with individuals who expressed interest in the college but stopped short of enrolling.

Below are the objectives, approach, and report details of the higher education market research study.

How to Conduct a Non-Enrollment Survey  | Higher Education Market Research

A non-enrollment survey can help your college overcome barriers to why admitted students chose a competing institution. Learn more with our higher education market research firm.


A full-service digital marketing agency in Syracuse, New York partnered with Drive Research to conduct a higher education market research study for an Upstate New York college.

The goal of the education research study was to understand:

  • How prospective students inquired about the college
  • Perception of the college
  • Drivers of interest in applying for the college
  • Overall experience with the college
  • Barriers to enrolling in the college

These and other secondary objectives were addressed in the education market research study.

The survey would additionally inform the digital marketing agency with advertising messaging and graphics to leverage in order to boost enrollment conversions.


To address the objectives for the digital marketing agency and the college, our market research firm that specializes in higher education, recommended a non-enrollment survey. 

The market research would be targeted to those who inquired with or applied to the college but ultimately did not enroll in the college.

While there are various approaches to conducting a survey with non-enrolled students (in-person, by phone, by mail), Drive Research recommended using an online survey platform.

Why an online non-enrollment survey?

Due to the objectives and audience of this project, our experts recommended this approach because online surveys:

  1. Are cost-effective
  2. Offer a quick turnaround time
  3. Are easily measurable  
  4. Gather high-quality data and feedback

Together, these major advantages created a strong ROI for the Upstate New York College. 

Non-Enrollment Survey

The survey was conducted through client-provided email lists dating back 3 years or less. 

The email lists contained contacts for:

  1. Those who inquired with the college
  2. Those who applied to the college but did not enroll

Drive Research also conducted 20 hours of reminder calls to further boost the response rate.

The online survey took an average of 7 minutes to complete and included 21 questions. The survey received 145 responses. 

Fieldwork for the survey began on February 8 and lasted until March 6, 2020.

Not sure how many email reminders to send your contacts? Here are some tips for email surveys to set you up for success.


The detailed findings from the survey outlined in a higher education market research report remain confidential with the digital marketing agency and the college. 

The college survey research report included a background and methodology, key findings, an infographic, recommendations with specific action items, and next steps for market research.

The report also included an appendix. This featured a detailed question-by-question breakdown of the survey and a final copy of the survey document.

The market research answered the following research objectives:

  1. How do prospective students become aware of the college?
  2. What is the perception of the college?
  3. How do prospective students rate their experience with the college?
  4. What path did prospective students ultimately take?
  5. Why didn’t students enroll?

Contact Drive Research 

Drive Research is a market research company in Syracuse, NY. Our experts have supported numerous research studies for higher education organizations. Check out our market research services.

Ready to contact our team? Here are 4 ways to reach us:

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