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Articles: Enrollment & Retention

Three separate surveys suggest that students and parents give strong consideration to advertised price. (Click to enlarge)

Have net price calculators, merit scholarships and tuition discounts rendered sticker price meaningless? Not according to numerous surveys on the topic.

The findings of three separate surveys over the past two years on the topic of cost and decision to apply suggest that students and parents give strong consideration to advertised price. A 2012 studentPOLL survey, a joint venture between the College Board and Art & Science Group, reported that more than one-half of families ruled out colleges based on sticker price alone.

The number of students identifying as belonging to a community of color has doubled since Frankin & Marshall College has invested more in need-based aid and phased out merit scholarships.

Financial aid is in a state of flux, but an institution’s size and selectivity offer clues to what kind of student assistance gets prioritized.

Some public flagships and less-selective private schools are using increased merit aid to lure higher achievers from more prestigious private schools, while some highly selective colleges and universities are phasing out merit aid as they give more need-based assistance to bring lower-income students to campus.

Colleges and universities are ramping up services for international freshmen and sophomores as administrators increasingly look abroad to further diversify their campuses and to expand enrollment with students who pay full tuition.

Whether it’s purchasing textbooks every semester or meeting daily needs such as meals, snacks or health and beauty aids, students who find the right dining and retail stores on campus have a better college experience.

Many higher ed institutions are adding shops and brand-name eateries, as well as renovating bookstores to keep up with current technology trends.

Here's how colleges and universities are using social media to connect with alumni.

If you build it, they will come. Your alumni are already Facebooking, tweeting and linking in, in ever-increasing numbers. Colleges and universities are taking advantage of this activity to launch and grow robust social networks of graduates that strengthen alumni engagement, boost volunteerism and stimulate giving.

Institutions that are successful in preventing loan defaults make it a campuswide effort, according to a recent survey by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS).

Nine community college administrators from institutions of varying sizes and locations were asked about traits of their borrowers and defaulters, as well as about default prevention efforts.

Wesleyan University President Michael Roth's new book is "Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters"

Read just about any editorial page these days and you’ll see a familiar refrain: “Is a college degree still worth it?” Wesleyan University (Conn.) President Michael Roth argues that not only is it worth it, but that it is more important than ever.

Higher education admittedly faces many challenges over cost and access. Online instruction, certificate courses and skills-based learning offer fixes, but Roth says there is much more to higher education than just getting a job.

Joseph Trentacoste is assistant vice president of Student Services at Mercy College in New York.

With national student debt at a stunning $1.2 trillion and financial pressure playing a key factor in retention, colleges must take the initiative to help students maximize opportunities for financial aid. Yet many colleges have downsized their financial aid offices and automated various functions.

Immersion in a long-distance tour is easy when videos are turned into 360-degree experiences through the OculusRift headset.

Admissions officers: Would more students enroll if you could bring your campus and its top-flight learning spaces along on recruiting trips?

That technology—powered by’s online campus tours and a virtual reality headset called the OculusRift—is just over the horizon, now being tested by a small group of institutions.

When Duke University class of 2008 arrived on campus to start their freshman year, they had no idea they would become pioneers. Why? Because each of the incoming freshmen received a free iPod as part of a program aimed at fostering innovative uses of technology in the classroom. I led the Apple team that helped Duke experiment with creative academic uses for the devices and I was on campus when the students received their free iPods; it was memorable as the students cheered with excitement as each one was given their new mobile device.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida

For years, new student orientation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida required the creation of information packets that were labeled with stickers and contained as many as 10 sheets of paper. The packets, which were prepared by Records and Registration staff with help from other departments, directed students to where they needed to go during orientation.

Streamlining the awarding and processing of student loans—Federal Perkins as well as institutional loans—began at the Illinois Institute of Technology with a simple question and a frustrating answer. “It started because I asked, ‘What is the process?’” recalls Jackie Anderson, associate director of student accounting. “No one really knew.”

Admissions/Enrollment Management

Historically, Western Michigan University’s 12 on-staff recruiters could visit as many as 40 or 50 high schools in a week and collect up to 1,000 paper cards filled with prospective students’ contact information. Due to poor handwriting or other errors, not all the information was entered accurately. Then, five weeks could pass before students received any kind of follow-up communication from the university.

Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociologist from University of Michigan, and Laura Hamilton, a professor from University of California, Merced are the authors of "Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality."

A common notion of college is that it’s a great equalizer—anyone who works hard and applies themselves can achieve a better life.

But Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociologist from University of Michigan, and Laura Hamilton, a professor from University of California, Merced present a different reality in Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2013). The authors say that, on today’s campuses, success depends as much on where you’re from and who you know as it does on academic ability.

Driving college loan defaults down

The coming change in how student loan default rates are calculated may mean bad news for some colleges and universities.

With the new calculations, the rate at which a group of students later defaults on loan payments will increase for most institutions, and schools with a particular default rate for three consecutive years will lose the ability to give Pell Grants. That’s why many are seeing this as the ideal time to look at how default prevention services are managed.