Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly

Advancing research in enrollment and student success

Editor's Note

Tom Green, Ph.D.

Tom Greengimp

This fourth issue of our fifth year maintains our focus on action-based research by providing articles rooted in practitioner experience.  Erin Finn’s case study of organizational change serves as a model for those institutions seeking to understand how organizational alignment relates to SEM.  While outcomes would likely be different at another institution, Finn focuses on the underlying concepts and the process used to assess the institution’s mission and needs, leading to its optimal organizational structure.  Often, SEM leaders are asked to define the best structure for enrollment management within an institution and just as frequently they respond, “it depends upon the institution.”  Finn’s case study provides the deeper look into how these nuances are approached and how Thomas Jefferson University set about using SEM concepts to develop the City Campus’ enrollment structure.

Creating high-quality campus visit programs is a highly-important element of recruitment programs, especially for those institutions that recruit traditional-aged students who will spend considerable time on those campuses as part of their educational experiences.  Freelance consultant and doctoral candidate Scott Secore explores the elements of a successful campus visit experience and its relationship to SEM concepts.  Many institutions are concerned with the shrinking number of high school graduates in their historic recruitment territories and seek every possible competitive advantage to attract the best possible students.  Secore notes the high importance of the campus visit experience in student choice and details the areas institutions must consider if they are to create memorable visits for prospective students and their families.

Keeping students enrolled and on a successful path toward completion is complex and multi-faceted.  While there is a great deal of research and literature on the first year of college and rightfully so, there is less written about the second year.  Many institutions neglect to place appropriate focus on this year after placing significant resources on first-year success and retention.  However, enrollment analyses reveal that many students leave after returning for the second year of study.  In some institutions, the loss rate is similar to that of those who left between matriculation and the second year of study.  Althea Sterling provides a much-needed study of this critical year and makes a strong contribution to the literature with her qualitative research, using student interviews to gain insights into the perceptions and issues of sophomore students.

Our final article provides a more theoretical resource for SEMQ readers.  Dr. Kris McDonald provides an overview of the needs of adult learners by reviewing the literature about this large and growing student audience.  The initial and ongoing enrollment of adult learners (which she appropriately defines for readers) requires that enrollment managers understand how their needs are aligned with and different from those of traditional populations.  Cycles of enrollment have risen and fallen between focus on traditional and adult learner populations.  Throughout these cycles, institutions have been only mildly successful in meeting their needs and enrolling them with great success.  McDonald’s article provides insights into those needs as a starting point to designing programs and services that meet these needs and, as a result, provide a greater chance for successful enrollment of adult learners.