Higher ed faced a firestorm of threats to enrollment in 2017, including the president’s travel ban, threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA), the rise of free tuition, a tax code that could put both colleges and graduate students in jeopardy and more.

It’s been a tough year, but we hope 2018 will be better. Employers still want their employees to have college degrees — including degrees in the liberal arts. The quality of online education has been improving, and colleges that were late to offer it can now benefit from what other colleges have learned about how to manage and recruit for distance education. The Commission of the Future of Undergraduate Education (formed by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences) released a report, reminding us all of the resiliency of higher ed over time and how that is bound to continue.

As we prepare for the year ahead, we’ve gathered some of our best Collegis Education blog articles from 2017. Perhaps you missed a few, or perhaps they’ll have new context in light of recent news. In any case, we hope you’ll find them interesting and insightful.

Three Keys to Improving Data-Driven Decision-Making

Supporting decisions with data seems only natural, but for many colleges and universities, data-driven decision-making seems like an ideal that is out of reach. We offer tips to get you started.

What Private Colleges Should Know about Free Tuition

We looked at how the Excelsior Scholarship works in New York, as well as California’s approach to education, where free tuition has been offered since 1868. Following that are solutions that we recommend for today’s highly competitive market and, most especially, for those impacted by free tuition legislation.

Intro to Student Persistence

Until somewhat recently, student persistence had been treated more like an afterthought than a priority in higher ed, but the emerging practice of dedication to persistence and student retention is growing into a major institutional force. As such, higher ed leaders are focusing more intently on what it takes to keep students effective, engaged, and — ultimately — enrolled. What has been born from this effort has since gone on to help influence institutional approaches to persistence.

Why Colleges Need Data-Driven Creative Marketing

Your marketing should be memorable, distinct and able to reach your students through a myriad of touchpoints. It needs emotion to connect. But it also needs to be efficient and effective. We start calculating the return on investment for any marketing efforts by asking: “What data about your audience is inspiring your creative work?”

The Diminishing Returns of College Search List Buying (and What Works Better)

Most admissions leaders see search (list buying) and direct mail as basic block and tackle, but the market is no longer responding as it used to. The time is ripe for a new approach. Online conversion rate optimization (CRO) and other tactics that are geared toward the lower end of the marketing funnel have been the most fruitful for Collegis Education and its partners — and we’re not alone.

Does Content Marketing Work for Colleges?

Content marketing has been the darling of online marketers in recent years, but do colleges need it? After all, schools are always sharing content written by professors and news about campus events. In our experience, however, colleges miss an opportunity to connect with prospective students when they don’t provide content specifically created for them.

Widening the Enrollment Pool with Course Content Solutions

When the University of North Alabama’s MBA program realized that few prospective students were following through on prerequisite courses elsewhere, it designed a course to help those prospects meet their goals within its own program. Enrollment in the MBA program grew by 100 percent within just a few months — and student response was overwhelmingly positive. We look at their process in this post from April.