Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly

Advancing research in enrollment and student success

Editor's Note

Clayton Smith, Ed.D.


Understanding the institutional and demographic factors that contribute to student retention, persistence, and success and applying what we know to enrollment management is essential if we are to continue enhancing the student experience and achieving our postsecondary educational objectives. This issue of SEM Quarterly speaks to how current SEM practitioners are increasing our understanding of these topics and what we can do to enhance our practice.

Current research points to academic course failure using two contrasting narratives, one negative and the other hopeful. Candice Wilson-Stykes, through the use of descriptive phenomenology and qualitative secondary analysis, examined students’ perspectives on failing a course and calls on higher education to increase its understanding of the complex context that surrounds course failure.

While enrollment of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students in postsecondary education have been increasing, AI/AN students have historically experienced lower persistence and retention rates than other ethnic groups. Lisa Azure, Sheridan McNeil, Leah Woodke, and Monte Schaff describe how one tribal college, United Tribes Technical College, leveraged data to address challenges to student persistence.

Higher education practitioners have long held that first-year student support programs enhance student success and retention. John Haller and Darby Plummer share results from a quantitative study at the University of Miami that saw student retention increase by eight points for first-year students who participated in GPAid, a holistically-focused, first-year student transition program that incorporated academic advising sessions, academic workshops, and counseling center education alignment with financial aid persistence requirements.

Challenges related to workload, staff morale, conflicting values, staff turnover, and student satisfaction often impact staff well-being and the quality of learner services. Lisa Perry and Erin Webb provide a comprehensive exploration of the transformative journey undertaken by the University of California, Merced’s enrollment management team to reshape its organizational culture. Practical steps for developing a centralized service model are presented.

Tensions often can be observed between central and academic units when institutions engage in enrollment planning. Angelique Saweczko proposes a new enrollment planning model that can be used to navigate shared responsibilities by building and developing relationships. The Enrollment Relationship Model supports strategic thinking and highlights the importance of campus relationships and partnerships and how different units can work together to support enrollment goals and be used to develop action plans.

John Soltice provides us with a look into the new book, Strategic Enrollment Planning: A Dynamic Collaboration (Third Edition), which expands on the previous two editions. It places SEM planning into a diversity, equity, and inclusion framework, and speaks to the changing economic, social, and political realties exacerbated by a multi-year global pandemic.

Successful enrollment management practitioners need to have a broad knowledge and skill set and well-developed, cross-campus relationships that support student retention, persistence, and success.

Happy reading.

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