Do you know what data you need to reach your enrollment goals?

September 5, 2017
  • AACRAO Connect
  • AACRAO Consulting
Figure interacting with a holographic screen that's displaying various charts, numbers, and a global map.

What is your enrollment goal? That number is one you likely have at your fingertips. But if that’s as deep as your data goes, you’re missing key decision-making information.

“Many institutions focus on the big macro number, like ‘we need 2,000 new students,’” observed Janet Ward, senior consultant with AACRAO Consulting. “They track that number as it builds over the year, but the analysis stops there. They don’t have it in their wheelhouse to understand what are the big numbers that make up that number?”

For example, “What’s the potential net tuition revenue generated by meeting that goal?” Ward said. “A SEM data portfolio is also about achieving your net tuition and fee revenue -- not just about headcount.” In addition, it might be beneficial to know the in-state/out-of-state, regional, or international breakdown of admits; or to have program-level admissions data; or to have an analysis from a financial need perspective. A strong data portfolio won’t necessarily have all of this information at the ready, but it will have specific, customized data sets relevant to your institutional SEM plan.

“Often institutions look at the macro number and not the subsets, so they don’t have a way to easily analyze the data into those subgroups,” Ward said.

Getting started

Determining what kind of data belongs in your portfolio means having a clear SEM plan. A strong strategic plan starts with an environmental scan, which helps you understand the market in which your institution is situated.

“You need to find external sources for environmental scanning, such as the research available through WICHE,” Ward said. “And then you need to conduct an internal scan to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your own institution.”

Building steam

Ward and Jay Goff, Vice President for Enrollment and Retention Management, St. Louis University, will discuss conducting an environmental scan and building a strategic data portfolio in their workshop at the AACRAO SEM Conference this fall.

“We’ll talk about the kinds of data you should be collecting, the kind of research and reports you should have in your wheelhouse when trying to understand and explain enrollment to administration or department heads,” Ward said. “Having the right research can help you better set benchmarks and understand who is coming -- and who is staying. The whole approach is to achieve enrollment, retention, and completion goals. To do that, you need to have a significant amount of data and analysis.”

Ward and Goff’s workshop, “Building a SEM-Based Data and Research Portfolio: Embracing Big Data and Business Intelligence Principles,” will be on Sunday of the AACRAO SEM Conference in Phoenix, October 29th at 2:45 p.m. Click here for more information and to register for the half-day workshop.

Register now for the AACRAO SEM Conference, Oct. 29-Nov. 1 in Phoenix, AZ.



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