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Articles: Enrollment & Retention

James Scannell is president and Jennifer Wick is vice president of Scannell & Kurz, a higher education enrollment consulting division of Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

Student retention, persistence, success and graduation remain top-of-mind issues for higher ed leaders amidst the advent of the College Scorecard, the push toward 60 percent of high school graduates earning college degrees by 2020, and families’ familiar concerns about return on investment.

Carine Feyten, the chancellor and president of Texas Woman's University, says security will become a recruitment issue for students and their families.

Carine Feyten

Chancellor and president, Texas Woman's University

Topic: Safety and security

The U.S. experienced a decrease in million-dollar donations in 2014. (Click to enlarge)

At least 1,831 gifts of $1 million or more—a total of $24.5 billion—were given to charity across eight international regions in 2014, with higher education remaining the top recipient.

Yet it’s a decrease from 2013, when 1,995 donations worth $26.3 billion were reported.

Nearly two-thirds of higher ed readers surveyed expected a major renovation project to be launched or completed in 2016.

Picture it: Faculty no longer get their own offices and libraries have vanished. Dorm rooms come standard with private bathrooms and maid service, and terrazzo tile has replaced carpeting as the new standard flooring across college campuses. Sound ludicrous? Maybe not.

Most colleges and universities will continue to face financial hurdles, and although there is much crossover, certain issues will be more or less of a concern based on the size of the university and its student population. One thing is true across the board: Student expectations are changing.

Marc C. Whitt is director of philanthropy communications at the University of Kentucky, and a former tourism commissioner.

College towns across the country may be sitting on an economic and tourism marketing gold mine in the form of their local institution’s “tourist attractions.”

Consider the thousands of people who go to a school’s concerts, theatrical performances, athletic events, museums, planetarium shows, camps and conferences—not to mention those visiting for homecoming, family weekends and daily admissions visits.

A majority of campus leaders surveyed by UB expected graduation and retention rates to increase.

Higher ed leaders continue to seek ways to prove their institution’s value to a shrinking pool of college candidates. In addition, a huge financial aid cloud hangs over everyone’s heads: the one with that odd moniker of “prior-prior.”

Students can color, practice golf shots on a putting green, build with Legos and play video games at the Niagara University library’s “stress-busting station.”

It gets heavy use during finals week, but is set up year round to encourage students to gather with classmates for activities other than cramming for exams, says Debra Colley, the New York university’s executive vice president.

Student success is the top priority for 84 percent of the campus leaders who responded to a UB survey.

Across higher education, institutions are blending instruction and extracurricular lives. Living/learning communities, data-driven advising and academic pathways, among other progressive initiatives, should continue to produce results at enterprising two- and four-year institutions—and will therefore see more widespread adoption.

Faculty, students and staff gather on Guilford College’s quad to express their support for refugees who have been invited to live on the North Carolina campus. (Photo: Kat Miller)

As the national debate over sheltering Syrian refugees on American soil heats up, a North Carolina college with a Quaker heritage is providing sanctuary to one family and encouraging others to do the same.

Guilford College in Greensboro has launched the Every Campus a Refuge initiative, designed to ease the transition of Syrian families into the United States by housing them for 90 days after arrival.

With nearly 975,000 international students enrolled in higher education institutions in 2014-2015, the United States remains the leading destination. However, by looking deeper into the numbers, it becomes apparent that not all institutions have been successful in attracting international students. For example, 1 out of 5 international students is enrolled in just 25 institutions.

A new book by Melinda Lewis and William Elliott shows how current aid models contribute to inequality, and discusses a number of promising alternatives.

Higher education is supposed to be a critical first step on the ladder that leads to economic mobility. But William Elliott and Melinda Lewis say that students often leave school with debilitating debt that delays or even prevents any upward climb on that ladder.

Effective student success initiatives begin long before that first day of classes and often continue beyond graduation. The colleges and universities highlighted in the third round of UB’s national Models of Excellence awards program demonstrate a commitment to that holistic experience.

Mary Piccioli is an enrollment management consultant at Scannell & Kurz.

With freshman discount rates once again on the rise, it will be more important than ever for institutions to review whether their methodologies for developing a budget for financial aid are sufficiently robust.

Using a cohort-based budget approach is critical for understanding the implications of replacing a “cheaper” senior class with a more heavily discounted freshman class.