Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly

Advancing research in enrollment and student success

Editor's Note

Clayton Smith, Ed.D.


As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, college and university enrollment managers and educational leaders are exploring how higher education will evolve. Will we return to our pre-pandemic ways; will we implement pandemic learning; or will we do a bit of each? This issue of SEM Quarterly identifies and discusses five ways institutions are considering this topic.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic experience, an opportunity has emerged to innovate and re-think the overall student experience and consider how higher education will meet the needs of its current and future students. Some colleges and universities are exploring how they can be nimbler and establish themselves as ‘student-ready’ institutions. Lisa Perry evaluated the one-stop service model as a possible practice for reducing melt. Findings from this study suggest that the one-stop model at UC Merced is making a positive impact on new student enrollment for historically marginalized student populations.

In recent years, and in parallel with the test-optional movement, holistic admission review has gained increasing popularity and visibility. Jose Sotelo, Reginald Gooch, Sugene Cho-Baker, Sara Haviland, Harrison Kell, Guangming Ling, and Ou Lydia Liu investigated the strategies and practices adopted by admissions teams when trying to convey information about admissions requirements and the admissions decision-making process. They found that there is a wide gap between admission officers’ understanding of whether they practice holistic review and the language used on admissions websites, and increased use of transparency could make the application process less of a barrier for minority applicants.

Recognition and award of credit for prior learning is a leading indicator of enrollment choice and an important tool for retaining adult learners that has a low rate of utilization in postsecondary education. Among the top impediments to implementing credit for prior learning is faculty lack of knowledge and confidence in its quality assurance. Drawing from learning and findings from six institutions within a large public university system, Diane Treis identified adult learner-centered elements that may be incorporated in a SEM plan and developed a four-step operational process for introducing credit for prior learning as a pathway for encouraging and supporting adult student enrollment.

Today’s prospective traditional college student utilizes social media for both information and engagement. Understanding the relationship between social media influence and the college selection process can serve as an important input into enrollment management’s social media decisions. Joy de los Reyes explored the role social media marketing plays in the college selection process for traditional first-year college students at a small liberal arts university. Findings from this study concluded that targeted social media marketing strategies can be influential at the initial interest stage of postsecondary institutional selection.

Institutional market positions can change over time. John Haller conducted a longitudinal comparative case study that explored the changing market positions of two private Catholic institutions, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that assessed the factors affecting market position differentiation at each institution and showed that the student demand, student persistence, and financial resources elements of market position took different trajectories at each institution. A model for institutions to better understand their market position is presented.

Christopher W. Tremblay shares with SEMQ readers a book review of the newly-published AACRAO book, SEM in Action: Implementing and Sustaining Your Plan, in which he describes stand-out graphics and layout designs, rich use of metaphors, and a “straightforward read with real-world examples” that will help institutions implement SEM.

We do, indeed, live in interesting times. With the pandemic experience in our rear-view mirror and changing student enrollment patterns in front of us, what is clear is that we need to be thoughtful, intentional, and flexible in the way we teach and support our increasingly diverse students.

Happy reading.

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