You are here

Articles: Enrollment Management

Mona Aldana-Ramirez, director of retention services, San Antonio College

Just when Mona Aldana-Ramirez thought she had all the answers, they kept changing the questions. The director of retention services at San Antonio College had to spearhead the implementation of a new enrollment program while fielding thousands of student requests for clarification. But every time she trained a few of her 20-person part-time staff, the enrollment process would change, and she would have to go out and retrain.

Leaders at public flagship universities, regional institutions, and community colleges are reporting more capped enrollments than in past years, according to “2013 National Survey of Access and Funding and Issues in Public Higher Education” released last month by the Education Policy Center at The University of Alabama.

Community colleges have a long tradition of articulation agreements with four-year institutions, ensuring that those who begin at a two-year school can seamlessly transfer. As the college trajectory becomes less standard­—even for students with bachelor-sized goals who begin at the community college level—institutional leaders are creating or adding the reverse transfer option to articulation agreements.

As more higher ed institutions develop reverse-transfer agreements, these partnerships “offer great opportunities for the institutions to share data” for mutual benefits, says Dennis Day, vice president for student success and engagement at Johnson County Community College in Kansas.

Here are two ways such collaborative information sharing can benefit both two-year and four-year institutions, as well as students:

Like most state universities in Michigan, the University of Michigan-Dearborn has entered into several reverse-transfer agreements with community colleges in recent years. In determining whether to activate the reverse-transfer process for a particular student, UM-Dearborn examines several criteria, says Ken Kettenbeil, vice chancellor for external relations. Here’s his checklist of items to consider:

New financial literacy programs aim to reduce student default rate. (Getty Graphics via Getty Images)

A spooky cloud of crimson smoke dramatizes the dread of overwhelming student debt in “The Red,” a short movie thriller created for SALT, the American Student Assistance financial literacy program for students and alumni.

Less dramatic but noteworthy still, college students logging onto the National Endowment for Financial Education’s CashCourse can take a “Financial Realities” quiz to test their knowledge. In the opening question, they’re asked what will have the worst impact on their finances: gourmet coffee drinks, borrowing money, or spending without a plan.

Rhe concept of leveraging MOOCs as a data-rich marketing vehicle is new but gaining a foothold

The exploding popularity of MOOCs is beginning to open up a mother lode of data about prospective students that colleges and universities can use for marketing and recruitment purposes.

MOOCs are still in their infancy stages, and the concept of leveraging their reach as a data-rich marketing vehicle for the institution is even newer. But it’s beginning to gain a foothold.

(Getty Roy Scott) The best approaches to social media outreach involve more than reacting to students who broadcast the negative.

When a student starts tweeting expletives about your institution for the whole world to potentially see, it’s probably time to find out the reason for the lash out and do some damage control.

Beverly Low, dean of first-year students at Colgate University in New York, reached out to one such student and ended up having three meetings with her. “They were meaningful conversations, too,” Low says, adding that the student was more likely to come and talk in person than vent on social media in the future.

1. “It’s not just building the network. You need the support as well. It’s a campuswide effort.” —Eric Maguire, Ithaca College

2. “You can’t use sarcasm or be funny in a text. You have to think about who is reading it. Inside jokes don’t work publicly.” —Beverly Low, Colgate University

3. “Allow room for spontaneous posts to happen each week, since the essence of social media is fluidity.” —Molly Israel, Ithaca College

While much has changed in enrollment management in recent years, one fact remains constant: the right kind of leadership is critical in achieving enrollment success. Several characteristics define leaders who are able to succeed within the realities of the profession today.

More higher ed leaders are concerned about maintaining enrollment levels at the same time Census numbers have revealed that colleges and universities lost half a million students in 2012. A drop-off had been anticipated for some time, but now institutions must scramble to manage.

College enrollment plummeted by half a million students in fall 2012 after several years of strong growth, the U.S. Census Bureau says.

The number of graduate and undergraduate students fell last year after increasing by 3.2 million between 2006 and 2011. The decline was led by a drop of 419,000 in students 25 and older. The number of young students fell by only 48,000.

Students at Savannah College of Art and Design have a variety of dining styles and locations to choose from across campus.

Only one-third of 3,400 U.S. college students say they’re satisfied with their meal plans, found a survey by food industry research firm Technomic. But schools are finding that to address the problem, they need to go beyond simply improving what winds up on diners’ plates.

Most institutions have at their disposal a wealth of tools to track recruitment-related metrics throughout the year. If you checked with your admissions office in the fall it would, most likely, be able to share information about the number of prospects, inquiries, applicants, completed applicants, and admits compared to the prior year.

A handful of California community colleges have already experimented with priority registration for freshmen, but by fall 2014, every community college in the state will be offering it in some way.