Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly

Advancing research in enrollment and student success

Editor's Note

Bob Bontrager

One of the hallmarks of strategic enrollment management is its multi-faceted, “matrix” nature. That is, SEM seeks to coordinate various aspects of institutional mission and strategy with operational realities that otherwise tend to operate as disjointed silos. Among the many potential metaphors for this approach, SEM seeks to get persons from the across campus pulling together in the same direction to meet student and institutional goals.

This issue of SEM Quarterly illustrates the idea of a SEM matrix as well as any. Stanley E. Henderson’s “View from the Top” article discusses a challenge being played out on many campuses—providing leadership to an institutional division that combines traditional student affairs and enrollment management functions. In true silo-busting fashion, such organizational structures bring together distinctive administrative cultures marked by differing approaches to decision making and accountability. Henderson provides a useful review of a topic that is often talked about but rarely receives this type of formal analysis.

Picking up on the increasing interest in enrolling international students, Linda Serra Hagedorn and Jiayi Hu link that goal with other efforts to strengthen pathways to educational attainment, with a particular focus on transfer articulation. Similarly, Seth Marc Kamen and Marcy Shapiro apply oft-cited recruitment and retention strategies to the particular needs of another student group receiving renewed attention, military service members. As defined by Kamen and Shapiro, these students include anyone serving in active duty with any branch of service, including those in the Reserves and in the National Guard, and veterans. For both international students and service members, it has become common for campus leaders to observe the large pool of potential students and establish goals for tapping into those markets. However, with so many institutions vying for the same students, these articles will assist in crafting the most effective enrollment strategies. Finally, Monique L. Snowden applies the SEM lens to more effectively managing enrollments among graduate students.

As noted in previous issues of SEMQ, the applicability, awareness, and implementation of SEM practices has been expanding rapidly at community colleges. Kimberley P. Collins’s article on the importance of colleges being heard above the noise as institutions vie for students’ attention is especially pertinent. Like other aspects of SEM, this same need has always existed for baccalaureate-granting institutions. Thus, it is not surprising that community colleges, as the hydraulics of public financial trends dictate a movement toward SEM, find themselves entering the marketing and communications arena in new ways. However, these initiatives as practiced by community colleges are more than mere duplicates of those utilized by their baccalaureate-granting counterparts. For one thing, baccalaureate institutions have a huge head start, having engaged in intensive communications efforts aimed at prospective students for the better part of four decades. Along with that long-term experience comes expertise in crafting the most effective messages and delivery mechanisms. Additionally, by definition, community colleges have a more direct and symbiotic relationship with their communities than most baccalaureate schools. As a result, as with their programs themselves, community colleges’ communications must take even greater care in developing messages that reflect the needs and interests of their communities—as Collins would say, positioning themselves to be heard above the noise.

In this issue’s research article, James Roche not only revisits the importance of data to SEM, but highlights the need to establish new protocols for utilizing big data and more sophisticated analytics to improve retention. Luke David Schultheis brings elements of the SEM matrix together, offering a managerial framework based upon a notion of distributed leadership that fosters inclusion of all staff in meeting enrollment goals—addressing the need, as stated at the outset, for getting everyone pulling in the same direction.