Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly

Advancing research in enrollment and student success

Editor's Note

Heather Zimar

This issue of SEM Quarterly looks closely at how institutions define student success. As college completion has increasingly become a defining indicator of student and institutional success, Tricia Seifert, Joseph Henry, and Diliana Peregrina-Kretz argue that policy focused solely on outcome-based data distracts higher education leaders from creating an environment that supports students’ individual and lifelong educational goals. Detailing two studies conducted in Ontario, Canada, the authors propose a broader perspective on student success, one that views it as an ongoing process that considers a variety of goals and experiences along the postsecondary journey. They call on policymakers to reward institutions that measure student success holistically, and, thus, encourage higher education administrators and faculty to provide creative and supportive opportunities for all students.

In light of changing market trends—such as the declining number of high school graduates and the country’s recovery from the recession—those in higher education are often being asked to do more with less. Thomas Willoughby, Greg Eichhorn, and Madeleine Eagon Rhyneer share how enrollment managers can best secure adequate funding for enrollment activities, and as a result, other operating units. They present a framework for using return on investment (ROI) analyses to provide evidence of effective institutional investments in student recruitment and enrollment management. As they explain, a multistep approach—beginning with goal setting and ending with sharing outcomes—is needed to gain support for resources and to pursue market opportunities.

Other leading strategies highlighted in this issue include an article by Kimberly M. Allen-Stuck and Daniel W. McDevitt describing innovative tactics to combat summer admissions melt by better engaging incoming students. They show how small changes, from policy to event planning, can make a significant impact on enrollment. In addition, Lua Hancock describes how institutions can use cross-cultural theories, organizational maturity models, and business planning frames to analyze their culture and structures. As she notes, recognizing the intricacies of campus culture is a key step in preparing for change and planning to achieve new goals. Finally, Christopher Romano and Joseph Connell discuss how a small, public liberal arts school framed student success to drive change and develop a new SEM plan. Their approach demonstrates how a shift in thinking can impact the way campus departments work together toward change.

In this issue’s research article, John Stanley and Wendy Kilgore present a recent initiative by the University of Hawaii at Manoa to identify current institutional peers. Using a mixed methods approach, researchers classified a peer and aspirant group that considered the key priorities of the university. The model offers a structure for institutional researchers and enrollment managers to collaborate in analyzing data in order to better guide enrollment planning and evaluate competition.