Tom Green, Ph.D.
Welcome to our ninth edition of SEM Quarterly! As we look ahead to 2021 and beyond, the pandemic continues to be the biggest story in higher education. The acceleration of enrollment trends that were already in motion has placed incredible pressure on enrollment leaders. Even those institutions that fared better than they did in fall 2020 are uncertain about the coming year. It is all the more reason to ensure that our research, and the practices they inform, are as strong as possible.
Two articles in this edition focus on graduate school topics. The first, by Dr. Olga Kommisarova, examines the trend of international enrollment in M.B.A. programs. Specifically, did the rising pre-pandemic trend of international enrollment into these programs place a squeeze on available places that resulted in a decline or stagnation of efforts to diversify these programs with domestic students who had been underrepresented in them? This concern is not new and has been examined at the undergraduate level. What Dr. Kommisarova provides us is an examination of this in the largest, most popular graduate programs for international students coming to the United States. If the trends start here, they may move to other, less popular programs. Fortunately (spoiler alert), the results show that these increases in international students are not restricting and, in many cases, are associated with increases in students from underrepresented backgrounds.
The second article offers another view of finances and graduate SEM. Paris, Birnbaum, and Dix examine the relationships between some of the most popular higher education budget models and graduate SEM structures. We know that when strong SEM practices are in place, long-range institutional budgeting becomes more stable. Finance leaders can more reliably plan for revenues and expenses related to enrollment across several years. However, this article adeptly notes that there may be implications from choosing a budget model on graduate SEM practices. This is a new and important contribution to the research and one that all enrollment managers should read, as more pressure is exerted to bring graduate schools and programs into SEM structures.
In 2019, luminaries Braxton and Hossler began an investigation into the SEM research agenda. Their work asked enrollment leaders to identify the most prescient topics for SEM, and AACRAO was pleased to be a vehicle for some of their research. They now loop back around to tell us what they have learned and the areas that are most pressing upon enrollment leaders. I would not have predicted the top issue! And, no spoiler alert here. You’ll have to read their research to see what topped the list.
The final article in this issue is on a popular topic: data analytics. We have seen this area gain increasing attention from enrollment leaders in recent years as more tools become available and, as a result, expectations for using data analytics rise. A team from Western Seminary, Drs. Kisling and Peterson, as well as Dr. Nisbet, provide a strong primer on data analytics. However, the strength of this paper is its practical examples of how data analytics are being applied to higher education. As if this isn’t enough, they quote Charles Dickens at the start of the article, and who doesn’t like a little Dickens in their research?
Enjoy the issue, and best wishes for great success in all your enrollment endeavors.