January 2020 - Enrollment management interest, adult student decline, and returning to college

January 31, 2020
  • Research
  • Access and Equity
  • college completion
  • community college
  • Criminal
  • dual enrollment

Interested in Helping Guide AACRAO Research?

Two of our founding research advisory board members, Sam Fugazzotto and Bill DeWolf, are stepping down from the board September 30. Bill has retired, and Sam is now serving AACRAO in other areas. I want to thank both of them for their service since the start of this adventure. Each has provided me with invaluable expertise and feedback and helped shape AACRAO’s research agenda.

Their departure from the board means we are seeking two new members. Members will provide feedback and ideas on research topics of interest to the membership. Additionally, advisory board members will serve as an occasional source of practice expertise for inquiries from members and provide feedback on survey/research design. For more information and/or to apply, please see the AACRAO research page. Applications will be accepted for the next few months.  Current members will help select new members who will be expected to start on October 1. You can also contact me directly should you have any questions.

AACRAO 2020/2021 Research Grant Open for Applications

The grant application is now open. Up to three applicants will be selected to receive a $2,000 stipend toward the completion of an advanced degree and the development of a draft academic research article. Please see the webpage for more information or contact me directly. The application period will be open through September 11, 2020.


AACRAO Research Update

Brand Management Use in Recruiting High School Seniors

The latest issue of SEMQ includes a research article on brand management. In late 2018 and early 2019, AACRAO partnered with two marketing faculty members to identify how higher education institutions are marketing themselves to high school seniors and to assess whether a brand management approach is being utilized. The research also sought to identify the practices that some institutions use (if any) to achieve enrollment results that are more successful than others.

The research suggests that institutions that tie their recruitment goals to their mission experience a greater yield between admitted and enrolled students. Those that rate themselves high on their use of social media and multichannel communications have similar yield rates. Institutions that can, at a minimum, use these two aspects to manage their brands are likely to meet their recruiting goals. The research also clarifies that higher education, in general, appears to lag behind U.S. corporations (e.g., Nike, Apple, Proctor & Gamble) in the use of brand management to market to prospective customers (i.e. students).

Use of, and Interest in, Enrollment Management

The January 2020 60-Second Survey was designed to serve two purposes: 1) to benchmark institutional-level use of enrollment management and strategic enrollment management (SEM) plans; and 2) to gather individual interest in enrollment management research.

Institutional data

Respondents who do not know if their institution either a) engages in enrollment management or b) has a SEM plan, have been excluded from the bullet points below.

  • 95% of institutions engage in enrollment management.
    • Graduate and professional-only institutions are less likely than other types of institutions to engage in enrollment management.
  • 75% report having a SEM plan.
  • 40% agree that their institution refers to the plan “most of the time” when making student-centric policy and practice decisions.
  • 50% of SEM plans were developed by a campus-wide group that included administrators/staff from multiple areas and faculty/academic representatives.
  • 83% of SEM plans include overall targets for institutional enrollment.
  • Among the 5% of institutions that do not engage in enrollment management, 49% indicated that there is a lack of buy-in to the concept/value of enrollment management.

Individual Data

  • 4% did not know if their institution engaged in enrollment management; of those who did know, 13% did not know if the institution has a SEM plan.
  • 83% expressed a professional or/or personal interest in enrollment management research.
  • 65% would like to know more about the efficacy of various retention strategies.

Prior Learning Assessment Policy and Practice as Experienced by Academic Records Professionals and Students

“We have to recognize the fact that individuals learn outside of the classroom and we are looking for a way to match what we are required to do for accreditation and what we think meets the same student learning outcomes for the program or the courses.” –Anonymous

WICHE will be releasing the PLA institutional practices and student perspectives report within the next couple months as part of a larger project.  AACRAO will also release the report to its members.  Already, data from the institutional practices survey and student perspectives survey is being cited in a forthcoming transfer practices primer from ACE. Institutions’ self-reported reasons for offering PLA were distilled into four themes: 1) attracting students; 2) assisting students with getting the credit they deserve; 3) improving degree completion/student success; and 4) reducing student costs and time to degree. Students who had received credit for prior learning reported that PLA credit shortened their time to degree and saved them money, and a quarter indicated that PLA credit “made it possible for them to complete a degree/program they otherwise would not have.”


Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Community College Priorities and Concerns

Salesforce and Inside Higher Ed partnered to ask community college leaders, faculty and staff about their top priorities and concerns. Enrollment and retention remain at the top of the goals list. Interestingly, however, top priorities varied by the role of the respondents (see figure from report below).

Source: Community College Leadership Report page 9

Self-Promotion Differences between Men and Women

Inside Higher Ed recently summarized a research article in The BMJ – a weekly, peer-reviewed medical journal.  Researchers completed a retrospective observational study of more than 100,000 titles and abstracts in PubMed for gender differences in the positive framing of research. They found that men were more likely to use positive terms in titles and/or abstracts than women. Click on the link below for an audio summary.

Education Trust Reports: State of Higher Education Equity

More than one brief has recently been released by the Education Trust including Inequities in Advanced Coursework, Hard Truths: Why Only Race-Conscious Policies Can Fix Racism in Higher Education, and How Affordable are Public Colleges in Your State?

Adult College Enrollment Continues to Decline

Education Dive summarized the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report noting that enrollment declined by 2.7% (about 171,000 students) in fall 2019 for students over 24. This decline continues a trend from 2011. Community colleges saw the steepest decline.

Addressing College Students’ Basic Needs

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) examined state-level strategies in Colorado, Louisiana and Rhode Island for addressing college students’ needs beyond tuition, including food and housing. CLASP is also developing a state-level self-assessment to evaluate policies on SNAP, TANF, Medicaid and other programs.

Findings from a Survey of 40,000+ Stopped-Out Students

Several secondary sources have already referenced this report from the Strada Education Network, but just in case you missed it or want to see it again, here it is.

ROI from 4,500 Colleges

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce used data from the College Scorecard to measure return on investment.  The interactive webpage enables you to compare institutions across a range of metrics.

Access to State Financial Aid for Students with a Criminal Conviction

The Education Commission of the States policy review outlines access to state aid for those currently enrolled in postsecondary education programs while in prison or students with prior convictions.  Findings include:

  • 54 out of 100 of the largest state aid programs limit eligibility for students with prior convictions.
  • Two states—New Jersey and Michigan—reversed legislation that negatively impacted these students.
  • 19 state programs are tied to Pell Grant eligibility.

Access to Dual Enrollment

Another Education Commission of the States policy snapshot summarized 2019 legislation focused on access to dual enrollment courses.

Financial Nudges Work for Re-enrolling

A working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research and summarized by Inside Higher Ed examined different methods used for encouraging students to re-enroll at several community colleges in Florida. Researchers found that previously enrolled students who received a text message about re-enrollment as well as a tuition waiver were 1.5% more likely to re-enroll than those who just received information about re-enrolling.

First Look at Postsecondary Transcripts and Financial Aid Records of Fall 2009 9th Graders

A National Center for Education Statistics First Look report highlights transcript and financial aid data for 2009 ninth graders now enrolled in postsecondary education.  Findings include the following:

  • 41% took a remedial course
  • Mean overall GPA was 2.7
  • Among the 91% who attempted STEM credits, the average STEM GPA was 2.4
  • 49% took out federal, state or institutional loans and averaged $5,600 in loans in 2016

NPR Ed Advice for Returning to College

A returning adult student spoke with NPR and provided guidance on what to think about when considering returning to college. Her six tips are:

1. Figure out why you want to get your degree
2. It’s not as expensive as you think 
3. Set up your support network 
4. Pick the right school (and program!)
5. Get credit for what you’ve already done
6. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it

If you want to hear the full interview click below.

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