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Articles: Enrollment Management

In President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, he made it clear that increasing college graduation rates would be a main priority of his administration. In the months that followed, “MOOC” became the buzzword of the year, bringing online learning to the forefront of the education conversation. But whether they’re massive and open or they enroll 12 students, online courses have traditionally given institutions trouble in the area of retention—an issue that could dampen the goal of leading the world with the highest share of college graduates by 2020.

Despite recent conversations that have been stirring about the value and return on investment of American higher education, there is still a strong public opinion in favor of it, according to a new Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll. The issue, the poll found, lies in how people feel about attainment and the current model of higher ed.

It had been predicted for years and now it looks like it is finally coming to pass. No, not the Mayan calendar apocalypse. After years of steep increases, higher education enrollments are slowing, almost across the board. In its “Projections of Education Statistics to 2021” report, the Department of Education predicts that overall higher education enrollment will rise only about 15 percent from 2010 to 2021, after witnessing a 46 percent increase from 1996 to 2010.

When we entered college, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was already in place—guaranteeing access to K12 education regardless of race, ethnicity, or ability. Now, as we soon become eligible for Medicare, looking back, the pursuit of higher learning has taken on a very different trajectory.

As a consultant to schools on programming for students with autism, I’m used to proposing ideas and hearing, “Sounds great, but sorry, we can’t do that.” Good intentions sometimes can’t overcome limitations in resources. But when I proposed the development of a bachelor’s degree designed to meet the specific needs of students with autism to The Sage Colleges (N.Y.), the response was very different. From the president on down, the prevailing attitude was, “How can we make this happen?”

Simpler for graduating students, the new process is also a moneysaver.

After doubling its number of graduates, Polk needed to automate its graduation applications process. A customized Access database was created with built-in reporting capabilities. An automated download capability was added to link graduate information with the reporting database. The result: Advising hours have been reduced by 1,600 per year and the additional clerical help is no longer needed.

NMU's Foundation Scholarship application and selection process was inefficient and labor intensive. A web application was designed that matched selection criteria to the student's academic and biographical profile. The new system reduced data entry, paper, timing, and labor costs, while increasing data accuracy and providing more information to selection committees.

As the Supreme Court revisits the idea of affirmative action in college admissions, new reports have been released looking at the success of Hispanic students in higher education.

“Advancing to Completion: Increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for Hispanic students,” a report from The Education Trust, shows improvements in six-year graduation rates for students at studied schools. Another report looks at success of African American students and updates previous briefs on these populations.

The vast majority of independent, private sector, higher education institutions are more than 80 percent dependent on tuition and student fees—the exception of course being that small cadre of elite, well-endowed institutions that comprise a small portion (less than 10 percent) of private schools. Even most of the nation’s public colleges and universities are increasingly dependent on tuition revenues and often student headcount affects the allocation of state support.

While a CRM system might revolutionize people’s ability to do their jobs, getting everyone on board isn’t always easy. Technology isn’t necessarily the challenge with a new initiative, says Alan Walsh, functional chief, lifetime engagement at Indiana University, Bloomington. “The true challenge, as is often the case, is with the culture. But culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

We all want to be winners. That trait is truly universal. But as U.S. higher education increasingly recruits students across international lines, how do we overcome challenges of language, culture, and academic preparedness to ensure that, while some win, others do not lose?

This question reflects one theme of the British Council’s sixth annual Going Global conference, which I attended in London in March. With 1,500 people from 80 countries, it explored how education can change the world’s future by shaping and connecting its citizens’ lives.

Reverse transfers­—students changing from a four-year institution to a community college—are nothing new, but until now the phenomenon wasn’t well understood. “Reverse Transfer: A National View of Student Mobility from Four-Year to Two-Year Institutions,” a National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report, dispels some of the myths surrounding reverse transfers so administrators can better serve them.

Recognizing that IT students at two-year Lake Land College (Ill.) had no nearby transfer option, officials partnered with Eastern Illinois University to allow for transfer of credits toward a four-year degree in Management Information Systems.

Here’s some seemingly daunting news for community colleges: South Dakota is the only state with a two-year college completion rate over 40 percent. That stat is from a new report released by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW), an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. North Dakota comes in second for two-year college completion rates, with 38 percent.