January 2019 - Registrar staffing, student success and valuable skills

January 25, 2019
  • chatbot
  • educational attainment
  • excess credits
  • Staffing
  • Student Success
  • transfer students


Nudges – Good For Boosting Student Success if Used Properly

We heard from our members in November that one in 10 are using a chatbot to help support admissions.  Evidence continues to grow in support of using this technology both in the enrollment funnel and in student retention efforts.  I continue to be amazed at the positive and significant impact of this virtual technology. Education Dive released an article highlighting some institutional successes around the thoughtful use of this technology and nudges – “interventions that steer someone toward a better decision without taking away their choice.”  The use of chatbots and other AI solutions take the notion of texting to a new level of automation. I expect to see a rather speedy uptake in the number of institutions adopting this technology in the next year.  Those institutions that have yet to embrace a culture of using basic text messaging with students are likely going to be two steps behind the practice leaders in this arena.

AACRAO Research Update

SEMQ Article on Excess Credit Accumulation: An Examination of Contributing Factors for First-Time Bachelor’s Degree Earners

The results of our fall 2018 research project on factors contributing to excess credits at graduation has been released as an article in this quarter’s SEMQ.  Key findings include:

  • Most graduates have excess credit accumulation at graduation.

  • Statistical modeling explains only a modest amount of variance – much remains unexplained.

  • Pursing a STEM major, participating in an honors program, length of time at the university, and attending multiple institutions are modestly correlated with excess credit at graduation.

  • Those with a history of academic probation are less likely to have excess credits.

January 60-Second Survey: Registrar Staff Size

The institutional staffing data from 1,101 respondents showed almost no tendency for the number of full-time employees to be related to the size of the institution, the population of students served, the functions performed, or the type of institution.  

10 or More Employees by Institution Size: All Countries





Std. Dev.


Under 1,000






1,000 - 2,499






2,500 - 4,999






5,000 - 9,999






10,000 - 19,999












Upcoming AACRAO Research

There are two admissions-focused projects on the near horizon. The first is a comprehensive examination of the back office processes, and the second is a chief admissions officer career profile.  The March 60-Second Survey topic is student success initiatives/efforts, and it is being deployed in support of the AACRAO Student Success Work Team.

The research on marketing to high school seniors will be submitted to the Journal of Marketing Higher Education for consideration.  

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Expectations of Highest Education Level

The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) released a new data point report based on the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009.  In 2009, parents were asked to indicate the anticipated highest education level their child would reach, and the students were asked a similar question over time.  Most of the students were out of high school by 2016. The two charts below highlight the differences in expectations between parents and students and changing student expectations over time.

Highest level of education parents expect their children to complete, by year 2009 and 2012

# Rounds to zero. Professional degree category includes those with a PhD or other doctorate-level degrees. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) Second Follow-up Public-Use Data File (NCES 2018-142).

Highest level of education students expect to complete, by year, 2009, 2012 and 2016

# Rounds to zero. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) Second Follow-up Public-Use Data File (NCES 2018-142).

FREE Training for the NCES Dataset

The NCES has created an online training suite for those interested in learning how to access and use the data.  This is a free solution.

WICHE Regional Fact Book

The western regional higher education fact book is updated on an ongoing basis. The content is useful to help understand population trends and policy influencers.

Career and Technical Education Policy Snapshot

The Education Commission of the States produced a new snapshot of the 2017 and 2018 legislation related to career and technical education.

Veterans and High-Graduation Rate Institutions

The College Board partnered with ITHAKA S+R to examine enrollment patterns of students who are veterans in high-graduation rate institutions compared to other institutions. Key points in the report include:

  • Veterans enroll in two- and four-year for-profit institutions at a higher rate than in public four-year institutions.

  • They are half as likely to enroll in high-graduation rate institutions (i.e., at least 70% graduate in 3-6 years) even though veterans are more likely to complete a certificate or degree than other adult learners.

The report also outlines strategies to address barriers to veteran student enrollment and the perceived barriers for colleges and universities to serve this population.  

A New Analytics Handbook

The Society of College and University Planning released a for-purchase ebook entitled An Analytics Handbook: Moving from Evidence to Impact.  This is a comprehensive primer covering topics from the history of analytics in higher education, to creating an analytics culture and analytics methodologies.  

Understanding Both Student Perception and Performance to Help Evaluate Curricular Changes

A new PLOS|One journal article uses a four-year case study to highlight value of understanding student perceptions as they relate to successful curricular changes. The authors conclude that “student buy-in plays a role in creating learning environments that are effective.”

People Skills in Demand

Cengage surveyed more than 650 employers and more than 1,500 students.  Employers are looking for people with competencies that cannot be replaced by machines.

Percentage of Employers Who Say These Skills Are Very Important to Gaining Leadership Positions at Their Organizations

Source: https://embed.widencdn.net/pdf/plus/cengage/jp8afotc2l/people-factor-ebook-911294.pdf

Transfer Students:  The Chosen Few at Elite Institutions

Key findings from the new report from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation are included in the infographic below from the 


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