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Articles: Enrollment Management

Jordan Zimmerman

Once a school like Penn State or Syracuse has gone through the ethical and public relations disaster of a child sexual abuse scandal ... what comes next? How do you fix what’s broken? Can you even think about rebuilding the brand?

Yes ... but it’s tough. It takes character, both for the organization and on a personal level.

Emerging from this kind of crisis means going through three different stages: denial, damage control, and decision. Lots of people, and lots of institutions, never make it through to that third stage.

Last November, Facebook wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg paid a visit to Harvard for the first time since dropping out of sight in 2004. In his address to students, the social media guru proclaimed that Facebook “is just getting started.” Remarkably, social networking has, in the past five years, forever changed the higher learning landscape. It will profoundly shape the higher ed marketplace in the next decade. Today, it’s estimated that more than 800 million people around the world depend on Facebook.

Public institutions may have lower graduation rates, but in moving students toward graduation, it appears they’re more successful than private institutions, according to a report assessing graduation rates from the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. It introduces a new method for predicting an institution’s graduation rate, based on social, economic, and psychological characteristics of incoming students.

With Latinos now representing one in six U.S. residents, the international competitiveness of the nation will depend on the academic success of Latino students, notes the opening of a recent College Board report on Latino college completion. Although the national average of 25- to 34-year-olds in 2009 who had attained an associate degree or higher was 41 percent, just 19 percent of Latinos had done so.

The regional demand for quality nursing professionals was the impetus behind a new partnership between Blinn College (Texas) and the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. Blinn’s associate’s degree in nursing program is undergoing a curriculum revision to clarify mutually accepted courses, which will allow a smoother transition to the TAMHSC baccalaureate program.

Community colleges have long been seen as a good place for students to brush up on their skills before tackling college-level course work. The state legislatures in Ohio and Tennessee have recently decided to have public four-year institutions get out of the developmental ed game as much as possible, and leave those classes to the experts.

One of the more dubious notions to attach itself to higher education is the brash “right to fail.” While the intent to demand maturity and accountability from college students is understandable, the reality, and certainly the wisdom of such an axiom, is another story.

First, the reality: Prior to World War II, the likelihood of attending college was reserved for the children of wealthy or near-wealthy families. These students were expected to succeed, whether they did or not. 

As if new student orientation wasn’t busy enough, the University of Oregon registrar’s staff was faced with processing thousands of pieces of paper containing Advanced Placement test scores that had arrived not long before the arrival of eager freshmen.

Because Oregon operates on the quarter system, orientation sessions are held throughout July, after AP scores are mailed to the school. That tied up personnel who had to manually enter the scores into Banner and pull files so that each session’s students could be properly advised on which courses to register for.

The oft-noted statistics are grim: only about half of college students complete any degree or certificate within six years, according to the Information Center for Higher Education Policy Making and Analysis. In the fall of 2010, public policy firm HCM Strategists and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a series of conversations for institutional leaders dedicated to increasing success for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. HCM staff also conducted interviews with 30 campus leaders.

The success of online education giant University of Phoenix has inspired a host of web-based higher learning and career training institutions. And while this increase is indicative of a growing demand for remote learning options, it also makes delivering the right student to the right school more challenging. Generating leads for the sake of generating leads is an inefficient customer acquisition strategy.

Students at Columbia College Chicago and elsewhere who choose academic programs

Here’s the harsh reality: The number of students who have debt has increased, and the amount of money that they have borrowed has gone up. These borrowers then graduate into a world with weak employment prospects. It’s a bad situation leading to higher loan default rates.

good walk

Until recently, applicants to the University of North Carolina, Wilmington’s Graduate School mailed in their applications, which were then walked—as in, physically carried—across campus to the school’s 46 different programs for review. Graduate coordinators often discovered necessary documents were missing, necessitating either another cross-campus trip to deliver the retrieved information or a resubmission by the applicant, which triggered the process anew.

paper cuts

The paperless society that technological advances were to have fostered never happened; we are more awash in paper than ever before. At University of the Arts, in Philadelphia, the problem has been compounded by a 16.5 percent increase in enrollment and a nearly 50 percent spike in applications over the last decade.

UVU

Retaining freshman students is a vital yet difficult task. Utah Valley University, with its primarily commuter campus, found it especially onerous, with about six out of 10 first-year students opting not to return for their sophomore years. Given that one of the requirements of the Title III grant it had received was to increase retention, the university had a particularly vested interest in succeeding.

Iowa

Typical college students, you’ve probably realized, are not 9-to-5 kinds of people. With classes, socializing, part-time jobs, and a myriad of other duties and desires crowding their schedules, they live by clocks that vary widely. This can be a problem for those tasked with providing them the services that help optimize their collegiate experience. Many of those folks, after all, work more traditional schedules and aren’t around to answer a call from a student on her way from her waitressing gig to the library to get some late-night studying in.

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