Academic journal article The Journal of Business Forecasting Methods & Systems

How to Prepare Forecasts of Enrollments of First Year Students

Academic journal article The Journal of Business Forecasting Methods & Systems

How to Prepare Forecasts of Enrollments of First Year Students

Article excerpt

Shows step by step how to forecast the enrollments of well prepared first year students... uses the actual data of one university to demonstrate the procedure ... such forecasts can help the admission office to establish realistic goals, as well as to craft its academic programs.

The advent of the enrollment management movement has raised the expectation level of campus leaders for admissions officers. Currently, they are not only required to recruit an adequate number of students but also to make highly accurate forecasts, forecasts that fall within precise bands. In addition to enrolling the desired aggregate number of students in a class, goals are identified for subsets of the population such as minority students, students with certain academic majors, and students with specific academic profiles.

Determining which variables impact on populations and how these factors interact involves both art and science. This paper describes a model for making forecasts for one group of students, freshmen with a locally defined set of academic criteria which is believed to be required for academic success at the institution.

In this paper, we define a well prepared student as one who graduates in the first fifth of the high school class. The model is realistic and accurate because it reflects demographic trends in regions served by the university, as well as university "market shares" in these regions. Though the model has been developed using data from a specific university (referred to in the paper as the University), it can be applied easily to other institutions. We also show how to use the forecasts to develop selection criteria for deciding whether or not to admit students who are less than well prepared.

FORECASTING LOGIC

Figure 1 shows the logical flow of the forecasting model. The University draws virtually all of its first year students from inside the state. Therefore, the first step in building the model is to forecast the number of first fifth high school graduates in the state. This turns out to be a matter of building an equation relating first fifth high school graduates as a function of state high school graduates and college bound high school graduates.

The second step is to use this forecast to develop an equation that relates University first fifth enrollments to state first fifth high school graduates. This is a matter of 1) disaggregating the state forecast by region, 2) weighting the regional forecasts by the university's market shares in the regions, 3) reaggregating the weighted regional forecasts, and 4) developing the equation that relates university first fifth enrollments to this total.

FORECASTING STATEWIDE FIRST FIFTH HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES

Table 1 shows the number of high school graduates in the state from the five different regions from which the University draws its students. The regions have been defined so that they have different, but internally homogeneous, "market shares." These shares are defined as the number of first year students enrolled at the University from the region divided by the number of college bound students in that region. The numbers for 1977 through 1993 are actual data. The numbers in boldface print are projections for 1994 through 2004 made by staff at the State Department of Education. At the foot of the table are the current percentages of high school graduates (by region) who go on to a four year college or university. These percentages have been rising steadily since the late 1970's and now approximate the national average. It is assumed that these percentages will hold steady into the future.

Table 2 shows the number of college bound high school graduates broken down among the five regions. The numbers for 1977 through 1993 are actual data. The numbers in boldface print are forecasts for 1994 through 2004 made by multiplying the projections of high school graduates from Table 1 by the college bound percentages at the foot of Table 1. …

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