A COMMUNITY COLLEGE ROADMAP FOR THE Enrollment Management Journey

Article excerpt

Within our diverse higher education landscape, no single formula exists for pursuing strategies that support stable or growing enrollments. College leaders can, however, utilize some common elements of enrollment management planning, adapt those elements to their institutional culture, and get on the road to enrollment success.

Unusual enrollment trends, funding limitations, revised institutional strateic plans, a competitive marketplace, shifting demographics, economic trends, multiple missions: These are some ofthe factors that may compel community and technical colleges (ctcs) to begin the journey of "enrollment management."

What is "enrollment management?" The concept first made its way to higher education in the 1970s, when Jack Maguire described enrollment management as an approach and structure that organizes a variety of ins ti tutional processes relevant to student enrollment (Maguire 1976 as cited in Kalsbeek 2000). Hossler (1986) it as a process through which the size of the student body is influenced by the deliberate organization and efforts of admissions, advising, financial aid, pricing, orientation, advising, retention and other services. Dolence (1993) offered a seminal definition: "Strategic Enrollment Management (sem) is a comprehensive process designed to help an institution achieve and maintain optimum enrollment, where optimum is defined within the academic context of the institution." Bontrager (2004) stated that enrollment management "enables fulfillment of institutional mission and students' educational goals."

A review of the literature and attendance at any enrollment management conference will demonstrate that these multiple perspectives on enrollment management are highly related to successful practice in both the CTC and the baccalaureate sectors. Institutions across the nation have strengthened their enrollments through such strategies and tactics as coordination of recruitment activities, enhancement of financial aid processing, implementation of effective retention strategies, development of new instructional programs, a focus on intensive marketing activities, creation of one-stop service centers, and numerous other efforts. There is no shortage of best practices and good ideas in enrollment management techniques. Never theless, experienced enrollment professionals agree that each institution should develop its own approach, strategies, and tactics, reflect- ing its own institutional culture and challenges. This is particularly true for community colleges, where certain strategies utilized in the baccalaureate sector may not be applicable given the unique characteristics of the CTC - e.g., open door, non-residential, less well-funded, and largely focused on the local or regional community.

Lest the concept of enrollment management seems too nebulous and the journey to enrollment success appears to have few universal road signs, the following definition is offered as relevant to community and technical colleges:

Enrollment management (em) is a comprehensive and coordinated process that enables a college to identify enrollment goals that are allied with its multiple missions, its strategic plan, its environment, and its resources, and to reach those goals through the effective integration of administrativ e processes, student services, curriculum planning, and market analysis.

GETTING STARTED

...EM is a comprehensive and coordinated process...

The key word is "comprehensive." As much as possible, the process of em should be inclusive of all sectors ofthe college, from Adult Basic Education to esl, from university transfer to career and technical training. However, there is no single preferred em organizational structure, Kemerer, Baldridge and Green (1982) suggest that there are four approaches: Committee, Coordinator, Matrix, and Division. Penn (1998), Jonas and Popo vies (2000), and others have offered commentary on the viability of those models, noting that advantages and disadvantages are associated with each model. …