Tom Green, Ph.D.
Here we are again, faced with daunting challenges from a pandemic. Enrollment of community college and international students are severely down from past years, causing some to wonder about the recovery of these enrollments once in-person enrollment and travel are able to resume. The role of practice-oriented research is even more important as we seek effective ways to harness potential enrollment from the available population we serve.
This edition of SEM Quarterly features one of the first articles to address the issues head-on. Sage advisers Stanley Henderson and Dr. Kevin Pollock talk about building relationships toward a “new normal.” They each write of the ways in which various constituents in higher education can connect to students. As we see the very high value of community as evidenced by the insatiable desire of students to gather, this article explores some of the underlying foundations of sound connections or, as George Kuh would say, engagement.
A research project long in the making, as the researchers thoughtfully collected perspectives from a variety of practitioners and institutional types, Drs. Harris and Smith provide a wonderful article on faculty roles in enrollment management. This includes “enrolment” as the research spans American and Canadian institutions, a helpful expansion of perspective beyond the U.S. borders. This is probably one of the most requested research/practice topics in SEM, as enrollment leaders seek ways to engage the academy in broad enrollment efforts. The research provides important insights into faculty work and specific tools and approaches to engage faculty into campus-wide SEM planning and implementation.
Because this topic is so highly requested, a second article on this topic—this time focused on graduate programs and faculty—is offered by Dr. Heidi Puckett. Facing daunting enrollment challenges in light of enrollment declines at the graduate level, a phenomenon over the past decade, graduate faculty were engaged in recruitment efforts. The results speak for themselves, and Dr. Puckett provides a well-researched article (with an especially strong literature review) and some very practical mechanisms for increasing communications through the faculty voice. This is critical for graduate programs, where students are keenly aware of program quality as a choice factor for them. There is likely no better voice for that than the faculty in those programs; Dr. Puckett gives sound advice for ways to bring that voice into the recruitment and outreach processes.
Beyond the impacts to enrollment brought on solely by the pandemic, 2020 was a year where everyone examined their role in creating a fairer, more inclusive environment. Drs. Syed and Turner Johnson offer an expertly researched and well-written article about gender and college choice. This is an important contribution to our field, as there has been little research that addresses the ways that gender relates to college choice factors. While the use of segmented messaging has long been a strong practice in SEM, little was known about how different genders may receive and relate to those messages.
Stay safe, be well and here’s to a much better 2021!