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Articles: Enrollment Management

Part-time students and their needs need not get lost when continuing education gets decentralized. Fairfield U reaches out to its part-timers, many of whom have young children, with events such as the Halloween-themed “Night at the Museum,” held this fall on campus at the Bellarmine Art Museum.

With funding cuts, falling enrollments and increased competition from MOOCs and other low-cost online programs, higher education has been under enormous pressure in recent years. But pressure often leads to positive change, and many schools are looking at continuing education as an ideal area for that change.

Jacqueline Gregory is director of enrollment management marketing for RuffaloCODY.

These days, institutions can’t say they fully “control” their recruitment and enrollment process—but they can adjust to how prospective students and their families are navigating it.

In the epic Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss learns that to survive, it is not enough to know where to be—it is just as important to know where not to be. For higher education, this means knowing what programs to curtail, and what markets to stay out of.

Many institutions need to reduce their reliance on the 18- to 22-year-old domestic student population, and focus instead on adult learners and international student populations as the traditional age U.S. student demographic shrinks.

How an institution labels its continuing education division often reflects its mission or goals. Below are some examples of terminology used in the field—and insight into why each institution made that choice.

Center for Lifelong Learning

Santa Barbara Community College (Calif.)

Officials recently broke down the CE division and integrated many previously free, noncredit offerings into a new Center for Lifelong Learning, which now generates revenue. It serves a wide array of community members, especially nontraditional-aged students seeking personal enrichment.

The high and rising cost of education, coupled with a vast range of low-cost options flooding the marketplace, has impelled much of higher education into an “adapt or die” mindset. This is relatively uncharted territory for many institutions. But what they may or may not realize is that a pocket of wisdom might be found in the form of their continuing education divisions.

When life gets in the way, community college students often “stop out,” meaning they put their education on hold with the intention to return and complete a degree. But the more breaks a community college student takes, the less likely he or she is to ever graduate, according to a Florida State University study.

It is a given these days for enrollment managers to be well aware of the national, regional, and state high school graduation demographic trends that shape the U.S. higher education landscape.

The eighth edition of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s “Knocking at the College Door,” for example, paints a clear picture of projections in aggregate numbers and race/ethnicity patterns. If you have studied the maps developed by WICHE, you know that:

Students who aren’t accepted to the University of South Carolina main campus this spring may still receive some good news with their rejection letters.

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.

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:

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:

New financial literacy programs aim to reduce student default rate. (Getty Images.com/MCT 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.

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