ERIC Identifier: ED432939
Publication Date: 1999-00-00
Author: Penn, Garlene
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher
Education Washington DC.| George Washington Univ. Washington DC.
Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
Enrollment Management for the 21st Century: Delivering
Institutional Goals, Accountability and Fiscal Responsibility. ERIC Digest.
Public universities continue to experience significant change precipitated by
a number of internal and external factors, among them constant turnover in
administration, state and federal government regulations, and the general
public's perception of higher education's value to society. Enrollment managers
sit in a unique position to influence change, frequently high enough in the
organization to have the president's ear. As an adviser to the president and
governing boards, the enrollment manager must have excellent communication
skills and extensive knowledge of policies and practices influencing the
enrollment of students. The development, maintenance, and continuing enhancement
of a conceptual framework for enrollment management and attention to external
constituencies affecting enrollment are essential if the enrollment manager is
to assist with positive institutional change.
WHERE HAVE WE COME IN THIRTY YEARS?
Nearly three decades
after the introduction of the term "enrollment management," individuals and
organizations have developed a body of work describing various models of
enrollment management. Enrollment management is an organizational concept and
systematic set of activities whose purpose is to exert influence over student
enrollments (Hossler, Bean, and Associates 1990, p. 5). It has four primary
goals: to define the institution's nature and characteristics, and market the
institution appropriately; to incorporate all relevant campus constituencies
into marketing plans and activities; to make strategic decisions about the role
and amount of financial aid for students and the institution; and to make
appropriate commitments of human, fiscal, and technical resources to enrollment
management (Dixon 1995, p. 7). Expanded and refined definitions of enrollment
management have evolved over the past 10 years. In addition, computerized
databases for recruitment and application, and telecounseling have provided
tools enabling more efficient management of huge amounts of data about students
(Bryant and Crockett 1993; Krotsen 1993).
WHY DEVELOP TOOLS FOR ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT?
past two decades, two important situations have had significant impact on the
business of higher education. The first was the decline in the number of young
people graduating from high school who were eligible to attend a college or
university. This decline signaled the start of increased competition among
institutions for eligible potential students. After years of soaring enrollments
with huge investments in physical plants to accommodate the new students, the
number of people eligible and interested in attending college started a steep
decline. It meant a scramble for the available students to fill classrooms and
residence halls, with the result a buyer's market.
The second circumstance was the general public's erosion of trust in all
types of public institutions (Hartle 1994), precipitated by a series of highly
publicized events. Legislators responded by introducing legislation, calling for
greater accountability, implementing performance-based funding, and mandating
reports of specific statistical measures.
WHAT IMPACT DOES A SUCCESSFUL ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT PROGRAM HAVE?
Numerous surveys and studies over the course of 15 years show the
impact of enrollment management systems on colleges and universities. Enrollment
management programs vary widely in the way the concept is practiced, but the
basic need to manage college enrollment from the point of initial contact
through graduation has become increasingly apparent. Declining enrollments are
second only to declining appropriations as the reason for colleges' and
universities' financial problems. And enrollment management is an important
factor in assisting institutions attain stated goals and remain financially
WHAT CAN ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT DO FOR
Institutions with a viable enrollment management program in
place have reported success in meeting stated goals. A wide variation of the
four original models is possible, with each model as distinctive as the
institution itself. Although the division continues to be the most popular
model, it does not guarantee success. Models range from a loose committee with
representatives of student services involved to institution-wide committees with
academic, fiscal, and student services areas involved. External factors play a
huge part in the ultimate success of any enrollment management plan; some of
them lead to more clearly stated goals, the development of measurement tools,
and attention to the institution's mission. Other external factors may
contribute to a complete breakdown in a once-viable management system. Internal
factors also can lead to positive outcomes or to disruption. Loss of top
executives when a plan is being implemented can halt the process and derail
several years of planning and work.
Enrollment managers' concentration on data, quality service, cooperation,
communication, and collaboration is important to institutional success. Those in
the field must have broader formal and informal education. The chief enrollment
officer must stay abreast of state and federal legislation, be able to discuss
funding allocations, and know how to measure the general public's support for
higher education. This professional needs background in computers,
communications, marketing, research and analysis, personnel management, and
fiscal concepts (Noel-Levitz 1996). The support generated for a comprehensive
enrollment management program may be the result of the manager's ability to
influence, communicate, persuade, lobby, and bargain with others. If a program
is to be successful, the president or chief officer of the campus or system must
not only endorse the program verbally, but also make sure it is funded.
Therefore, the relationship of the chief enrollment officer to the president can
be a critical element in a successful program.
The professional enrollment manager can, by using information databases and a
combination of theory and practice, provide academic deans, the president, and
fiscal officers with information about programs, the quality of students,
demographic trends for graduates and potential students, attrition, and image.
In an era when the number of potential students is beginning to rise again, less
than 50 percent of those starting college actually graduate. Practices in
awarding financial aid that may assist some students present financial problems
for the institution and ethical concerns for the enrollment manager.
Institutions need to concentrate on the use of enrollment management tools,
including predictive modeling, outcomes-based research on retention, programs,
and activities, and evaluation of students' satisfaction to meet the needs of
students, graduates, and society in general. Enrollment management changes the
way colleges and universities approach the business of higher education. With
appropriate planning and evaluation, institution-wide participation,
well-prepared professionals, and adequate fiscal resources, enrollment
management can help colleges and universities meet the challenges of the 21st
Bryant, Peter, and Kevin Crockett. Fall 1993. "The Admissions Office Goes
Scientific." Planning for Higher Education 22(1): 1-8.
Dixon, R.R., ed. 1995. Making Enrollment Management Work. New Directions for
Student Services No. 71. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Hartle, T.W. Summer 1994. "The Battle over Governmental Regulation of
Academe." College Board Review 172: 14-21+.
Hossler, D., J.P. Bean, and Associates, eds. 1990. The Strategic Management
of College Enrollments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Krotsen, Marsha V. 1993. "Designing Executive Information Systems for
Enrollment Management." In Developing Executive Information Systems for Higher
Education, edited by Robert H. Glover and Marsha V. Krotzen. New Directions for
Institutional Research No. 77. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Levitz National Center for Enrollment Management. 1996. Fall 1995 National
Enrollment Management Survey.Executive Summary of Findings: Four-Year Colleges
and Universities.Littleton,Colo.: Author.
This ERIC digest is based on a full-length report in the ASHE-ERIC Higher
Education Report series, 26-7, Enrollment Management for the 21st Century:
Delivering Institutional Goals, Accountability and Fiscal Responsibility by