Defining Roles in Enrollment Management
Dr. Earl Brooks
The first step in successful implementation of an enrolment management plan is to clearly delineate responsibilities. Each division must understand its role in enrolment management.
The defining of roles and responsibilities begins in the Office of the President. The President is charged with setting the vision for what institutional leaders wish to accomplish. In addition to vision, the President must monitor overall implementation activities and ensure accountability in the process.
The Admission Office is very important. Representatives in the recruitment effort must achieve new student enrolment objectives in line with the strategic plan. New student enrolment goals are more than just headcount. They must also encompass minimum levels of academic quality as defined by SAT scores, ACT scores, high school grade point averages or other important indicators. Other new student characteristics can be equally important such as geographic source, ethnic diversity and ability to pay.
Presidents must make sure that appropriate reporting mechanisms exist to track recruitment progress throughout the cycle. Meaningful data analysis is important on an ongoing basis and annually.
Presidents must work with recruitment professionals to determine the appropriate goals, but Presidents must also ask these professionals to outline the strategies and tactics that will be used to achieve the objectives. So often, recruitment efforts fail yet the same strategies and tactics are implemented again!
The Financial Aid Office contributes to the overall effectiveness of an enrolment management plan. Financial aid officers are charged with supporting both recruitment and retention through award policies, application procedures, the timeliness of awards and service to students and parents.
Financial aid officers must also be mindful of their duties regarding completion of folders in support of cash flow objectives. Processes and procedures should ensure timely disbursement for students and for the institution.
An effective financial aid process also involves working with students and families on financial planning. As the costs of higher education rise, financial planning becomes more important.
Presidents might also wish to examine the institutional award policy with the leadership in the Financial Aid Office to ensure that the policy is not structured in a fashion that complicates collection efforts or makes unreasonable payment plans.
Student Services must also be involved in the enrolment management plan. The professionals in the division should focus on co-curricular offerings that are responsive to student interests. There should be mechanisms available to determine appropriate activities. Activities can be a powerful influence for retention.
For residential campuses, the quality of housing and the experience of living on campus are critical. Student services staff members should have specific plans to continuously improve the residential experience for students. Offering an atmosphere suitable for fun, study and relationships can be a difficult balance.
Athletics plays a significant role at many colleges and universities. Establishing programs that are competitive and focused on graduating student athletes can be challenging. Presidents may wish to inquire annually about the specific plans on the table for achieving these difficult objectives. Athletic headcounts are also important for planning and budget. Ensure that the leaders in the athletic division have clear goals for recruitment as a function of sport and accurate measures for retaining student athletes.
It might be useful to make co-curricular transcripts part of the student services plan. Such transcripts are useful for students as they build their non-academic resumes while in school but can also be valuable for administrators as they quantify participation rates.
Individuals in the Business Office play a powerful role in enrolment management. Decisions regarding issues as obvious as pricing will influence other campus decisions on a myriad of topics related to product.
Business officers must be able to communicate with students and parents. Something as simple as timely and accurate billing can make a difference in recruitment and retention. Collaboration with other offices, including Admission and Financial Aid are required. Careful plans must be made with regard to collections. How are collections tracked? How often is success reviewed? What additional steps can be taken each year to improve collections?
The role of the faculty is arguably the most important. Few things are more important than a quality teacher. Teaching, however, must be tailored to the type of students recruited as part of the strategic plan.
The role of faculty in academic advising is extremely important. High quality advising can positively influence retention outcomes. Effective advising is a data-driven enterprise and must include tracking. Annul plans for outreach and continuous analysis can make a real difference.
Somewhat easy steps such as monitoring the pre–registration status of currently enrolled students and taking action to encourage students to complete the process will help.
Enrolment management is a broad and complicated concept. Colleges and universities can be overwhelmed into inaction. Presidents can positively influence the process by taking the first step and defining roles for the campus divisions.