May 2016 - Members Using AACRAO Research Resources

May 23, 2016
  • Research
  • AACRAO Research Resources


Members Using AACRAO Research Resources

I enjoy hearing from members about how they are using the research reports. Most often members report using the reports to help convince others to either leave a practice/policy the way it is or to make a change in that practice/policy. Some remark on how their supervisor simply wants to know how other institutions similar to their own are conducting business around a particular topic. Others use the staffing assessments to help justify position changes. Occasionally I receive requests to further disaggregate the data to a specific set of peer institutions or more refined set of institutional characteristics than those displayed in the reports, and I am happy to do so.

I’d like to hear about how you use, or want to use, the AACRAO research reports and to share that with other blog readers. I’d particularly like to know how the research helped you make a decision or a change you were hoping to make. We will be testing the comments functionality available to us in the near future, but for the time being, if you’d like to share with me and with others please email at, and I will include your feedback in the next blog.

AACRAO Research Insights

New Student Registration and Orientation – April 2016 60-Second Survey

One of the well-attended sessions at the recent annual conference in Phoenix was entitled All Aboard: Registration Models for First Semester Students (Session#4520, Tues. 8:00 a.m.). The session covered how two institutions register domestic, first-semester students before, or in place of, on-campus orientation either through self-registration, registration by the institution on behalf of the student, or a combination of the two.

Key Findings Self-Registration

  • There is a wide variety in self-registration and orientation practices.
  • In the aggregate, slightly more than half let freshmen partially or completely self-register, and almost two-thirds allow new graduate students to do the same.
  • Lower-division-only institutions are more likely to allow freshmen to self-register than other types of institutions.
  • On the whole, almost 3 out of 4 require freshmen to meet with an advisor before registering.
  • Slightly more than half require new graduate students to meet with an advisor before registering.
  • In-person orientation is still required for more than half of the self-registering freshmen. This practice is slightly less common for lower-division-only institutions.

Key Findings Registration on Behalf of the Student

  • On the whole, 12% of institutions saw an increase in yield by providing either complete or partial registration on behalf of the student practices instead of self-registration. The majority saw no change in yield (87%).
  • 6 out of 10 either partially or completely register freshmen on behalf of the student. This is much less common for the undergraduate transfer population and slightly less common for graduate students.
  • Almost three-quarters required in-person orientation for freshman who have been registered in-part or in-whole by the institution.
  • Registrar staff and advisors are more likely than other areas to be responsible for completing the registration on behalf of the student.

AACRAO Research Initiatives

We will take a break from the 60-Second surveys for the month of June. Our aim is to complete 10 a year skipping both June and December. Please let me know if you have any topics for the 60-Second surveys.

We are in the early stages on three projects outside of the 60-Second surveys. One on the use of dual enrollment programs to support student success and SEM initiatives. The other will potentially involve a case-study type of report on a few states who support transfer students well in order to help explain the gap between recent student level data reports which indicate that transfer students lose credits and other reports which indicate that most states have comprehensive mechanisms in place to support transfer between their public institutions. The third is a career profile study for Director of Admissions to round out our career profile series. The first project is tentatively scheduled for a November release and the second is for next summer at the Tech and Transfer conference. The career profile deliver date is to be determined in the next couple of months.

I will travel to DC this month for an ACE convening to discuss the next phase of their Dream Undone project. We were also part of the first phase.

Finally, the May 2016 issue of C&U (Volume 91 Issue 2) released on May 4th includes an article summarizing the key findings of the AACRAO 2015 research year.

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Projections of Education Statistics to 2023 in the United States

The National Center for Education Statistics released the education projections for 2023 in April.

Postsecondary projected increases by 2023-24 compared to 2011-12 data include:

  • First-time freshman enrollment is projected to increase 14 percent
  • Total enrollment in postsecondary degree granting institutions is projected to increase 15%.
  • The number of associate’s degrees conferred is projected to increase 39%.
  • The number of bachelor’s degrees conferred is projected to increase 15%.

Undergraduate Cost of Recruiting Report from Ruffalo Noel Levitz

In 2016 survey based on 2015 enrollment numbers of 206 four- and two-year institutions, Ruffalo Noel Levitz found that four-year privates spend the most with median of $2,232 per student. Further details can be found by downloading their report.

The Returns to College Persistence for Marginal Students

A recent working paper produced by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institution shared the results of a study of “low-performing students who are dismissed from public 4-year colleges in Ohio”. The aim of this study was to estimate the earnings impact of college on low-performing students. The authors concluded that “low-performing students (on the margin of college dismissal) derive substantial earnings benefits from college”, are “approximately 10 percentage points less likely to graduate college” and those who are dismissed “suffer substantial earning losses measured between 7-12 years after college enrollment.” They also present four categories of explanation as to why these students drop out.

Public Research Universities: Recommitting to Lincoln’s Vision – An Educational Compact for the 21st Century

The Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education an initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences released its final publication by its members. This report concludes their work on the causes and results of reduced state investment in public research universities and provides recommendations for bringing stability and renewed strength to these institutions.

Postsecondary Student One-Year Mobility Rates

The April 20, 2016 report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center noted that almost 10 percent of all postsecondary students in the United States attended more than one institution during the 2014-15 academic year.

Analyzing the Cost of Using Technology – A resource

Not new but interesting nonetheless, the WICHE Cooperative for Education Technologies (WCET) in conjunction with the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has a free set of analysis tools and step-by-step guides to “enable institutional leaders to analyze the costs of using technology in both on- and off-campus instruction.” These tools are designed to help institutions make comparable cost estimates across multiple modes of instruction.

NACUBO’s Looking Under the Hood Institutional Aid Metrics Benchmarking Tool – A resource

I received a webinar announcement from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), which referenced an institutional aid benchmarking tool that allows NACUBO and Association for Governing Boards (AGB) members to compare their various institutional grant aid metrics with the national average and with self-selected peer institutions. According to the AGB, this solution can help institutions answer questions like:

  • “Are institutional-aid policies consistent with the mission and values of our institution?
  • Is institutional aid being delivered to the types of students we most want to see on our campus?
  • Is aid ultimately going to students who succeed (i.e., do students who receive our grants graduate)?”

If your institution is a member of either of these groups and is not currently using this tool, you may want to look into it.

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