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Articles: Enrollment Management

Higher ed thought leaders and reader surveys provide insights into what's ahead for colleges and universities in 2015.

To help our readers navigate the coming year in higher education, University Business proudly presents Outlook 2015. In-depth stories cover the major trends impacting administration and management, enrollment and retention, finance, facilities, technology, and teaching and learning. We interviewed administrators and other experts in each of these topics to capture their predictions about what 's on the horizon for colleges and universities.

Beginning in 2016, when prospective students to the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Ind.) submit their SAT scores and transcripts, they’ll be asked to take a personality quiz to help the school determine who has the right stuff to succeed.

“I’ve always felt there’s something missing in admissions, something that we can do better,” says Jim Goecker, vice president of enrollment management and strategic communication.

Bill Berg is an enrollment management consultant at Scannell & Kurz, a RuffaloCODY company.

The often-used businesses term “right-sizing” has in recent years become common in higher education. Though sometimes used as a euphemism for “downsizing,” it more rightly refers to an effort to optimize enrollment, human resources, programs and facilities—in other words, fixed costs.

There are a host of factors that should go into the analysis when an institution is attempting to match demand with its capacity to meet that demand.

The number of Americans age 18 to 21, the traditional college age, has decreased by nearly 700,000 since 2011—from 18.1 to 17.4 million—according to research from the University of Virginia. With this decline, many colleges could turn to older non-first-time students to maintain enrollment numbers and financial goals.

At the end of the 2014 Little League World Series star pitcher Mo’ne Davis got the call of her life. Mo’ne is only in 8th grade but already she has new learning and earning options. Head Coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team Geno Auriemma acknowledged the 13 year old’s athletic prowess with a congratulatory phone call. A few days later Auriemma was hit with a recruiting violation – go figure. “That’s the world that we live in” said Geno Auriemma in response to the NCAA ruling. It is indeed.

At Northern Arizona University, a convocation is held for international students. NAU's International Student and Scholar Services department offers a range of orientation programs.

Recruiting students from outside the U.S. can have big pay-offs when interest in this group is at an all-time high. A recent report shows enrollment of international students at U.S. colleges and universities increased by seven percent to a record high of 819,644 students in the 2012-13 academic year.

Student success and retention, along with recruitment and enrollment, lead the way among the many areas that will see a fresh commitment of funding and other resources over the next 18 months.

Colleges and universities of all types and sizes are planning new investments in virtually all areas of operations as economic recovery entrenches itself in higher education, according to a University Business survey of campus leaders.

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.

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.

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.

Aaron Mahl is an enrollment management consultant at Scannell & Kurz.

Although managing enrollment efforts has never been easy, it was not that long ago when the traditional funnel was somewhat predictable.

As an admissions counselor in my early days, I could easily work backward to set goals for my territory, starting with my goal for the number of enrolled students. I then used historical data and three-year trends to forecast the number of admits, applicants and inquiries needed from my territory to achieve the goal.

A decline in high school graduates and students applying to more institutions are what one expert sees as the two main reasons more colleges and universities are struggling to meet their admission yield targets.

The average yield rate among four-year colleges and universities fell from 42.9 percent in 2009 to 36.9 percent in 2012, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s “State of College Admission 2013” report. 

Exploring the shore: Roger Williams University has found a new source of revenue in tapping its scenic waterfront campus to  expand its once tiny summer programs. (Photo: Peter Silvia)<p>

Five years after the Great Recession’s official end, higher ed endowments and fundraising are finally recovering, but there is no rising financial tide that’s lifting all boats—especially smaller ones that depend heavily on tuition.