Bob Bontrager, Ph.D.
This second edition of SEMQ offers insights into several trends still in active development. Offering his “view from the top,” Kevin Pollock is one of a small but growing number of enrollment managers who have ascended the administrative ladder to the presidential level. SEM often acts as an effective training ground for executive leadership with its institution-wide, cross-functional perspective. This is especially true in the community college sector. Pollock’s article on student success programs also highlights the critical engagement of student affairs units in enrollment management programs.
The theme of student success is a trend in itself, as reflected by the several articles on that topic. SEM’s intensified focus on improved retention practices is an important antidote to the persistent temptation to view enrollment primarily through the front-loaded lenses of student recruitment. Similarly, Kent Barnds’ article helps us move beyond simplistic notions of brand marketing and recruitment to understand those activities from the perspective of increased accountability and a focus on educational outcomes. The Catherine Dubé and Jody Gordon article further expands our SEM thinking with a silo-busting focus on the link between judicial affairs and enrollment outcomes, from a cross-national, Canadian perspective.
One of the most frequent questions about current SEM practice is how SEM principles may be applied in the graduate and professional school setting. That proposition is more challenging than it may first appear. In contrast to traditional undergraduate contexts, postgraduate programs tend to be decentralized and focused on older adults. The dispersion of recruitment, communications, and marketing activities makes it difficult to deliver consistent, timely messages to prospective students. In terms of retention, the prevalence of older adults translates into exponentially more complex life circumstances that may hinder student persistence. Wendy Bolyard’s article offers a useful perspective on implementing SEM in a decentralized graduate school environment.
Finally, few issues are as timely as college admissions practices, which currently are undergoing another round of scrutiny by various higher education, legislative, and judicial groups. Within those discussions exists an interesting subplot related to the persistent focus on traditional admissions criteria—such as high school grades, standardized test scores, and essays—that have resulted in well-documented inequities in admission selections among student of varied socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. At the same time, comparatively limited attention is given to nontraditional approaches showing clear promise for achieving more equitable selections. The concluding article by David Kalsbeek, Michele Sandlin, and William Sedlacek revisits the use of noncognitive variables as identified by Sedlacek’s research over the past 30-plus years, updated by current practices as implemented by Kalsbeek and Sandlin.
Reflecting the overarching intent of SEMQ, the articles in this issue provide useful guideposts for the way forward or improving enrollment results.