The Enrollment Manager’s Role in Retention and Student Success

February 19, 2024
  • Enrollment Management
  • Learning Mobility
  • ascend
  • student succ
Photograph of students working on a bench.

By Bethany Parmer, Ed.D. Registrar at the College of Southern Idaho and AACRAO ASCEND Cohort member.

The role of an Enrollment Manager is not easy. The individual must focus on all aspects of the student lifecycle from the moment a student applies for admission to walking across the stage at Commencement. In between those two crucial moments are where we must focus our attention on retention and student success. In an evolving educational landscape, characterized by diverse student populations, the Enrollment Manager becomes a strategic architect, designing and implementing initiatives that foster a supportive environment for students from enrollment to graduation. To optimize retention and student success, Enrollment Managers should concentrate on the following key areas:

Data-Driven Decision Making

Enrollment Managers must use data effectively, swiftly generating reports to comprehend the student population and identify gaps in retention initiatives. When implementing new strategies, they should communicate the rationale behind these decisions using data, adopting a change management perspective. 


Breaking down silos within the institution is vital for enrollment management success. Every individual on campus plays a role in student retention and success. Collaboration between enrollment services, admissions, student affairs, academic affairs, and information technology is essential for a holistic approach. 

Career Services Integration

Integrating career services into enrollment management provides a significant advantage. Students may be unaware of available resources such as internships, job opportunities, and career guidance related to resumes and interview skills. Having a career services department aids in aligning students with programs that align with their future career goals.  


Effective communication is vital, especially when students may not be engaged through traditional channels such as their college email. Enrollment Managers should adapt to students' preferred communication platforms, utilizing tools like their Learning Management System (LMS) to share critical information. One idea is having each academic advisor have a “course” within the LMS to allow the advisor to interact and communicate with their student caseloads. Timely communication about deadlines, events, and access to support services contributes to a positive student experience.

Student Engagement

Research indicates that actively engaged students are more likely to persist and thrive. To boost engagement, Enrollment Managers must advocate for students, ensuring their voices are heard among faculty and staff. Establishing a sense of belonging is crucial, requiring a collective effort from all campus stakeholders. We must allow all stakeholders to have a seat at the table to ensure all voices are heard across the college campus. 

First-Year Experience Programs

As students embark on their journey at a new institution, the unfamiliarity of navigating the campus poses potential challenges. This prompts a critical inquiry into the existence of a comprehensive first-year experience program designed to address the unique hurdles faced by incoming students. Research shows first-year experience programs have a positive impact on retention and student success as it helps connect the students to resources amongst the campus so students always know they can seek assistance whenever needed. 


In conclusion, educational institutions must continually innovate to connect with students and prioritize enrollment management for enhanced retention and success. Recognizing students as ambassadors, colleges and universities should collaboratively work across departments to guide them from admission through to graduation, ensuring they achieve their educational goals. By addressing these key areas, Enrollment Managers can contribute significantly to the overall success and satisfaction of the student body.


AACRAO's bi-weekly professional development e-newsletter is open to members and non-members alike.