Academic journal article College and University

Enrollment Management & THE ENROLLMENT INDUSTRY

Academic journal article College and University

Enrollment Management & THE ENROLLMENT INDUSTRY

Article excerpt

IN THE SERIES OF ESSAYS DAVID KALSBEEK AND I HAVE AUTHORED FOR COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, WE HAVE ATTEMPTED TO EXAMINE THE BUSINESS OF ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT FROM A VARIETY OF PERSPECTIVES. FROM THE SPECIFIC DEMANDS THAT FACE SENIOR ENROLLMENT MANAGERS TO THE LARGER INSTITUTIONAL AND PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES THAT CREATE THE CONTEXT FOR THE PRACTICE OF ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT, WE HAVE TRIED TO CREATE CONVERSATIONS AND TO PROVIDE THE GRIST FOR DISCUSSIONS ABOUT REFLECTIVE PRACTICE WITHIN ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATIONS, AND HOPEFULLY AMONG OTHER SENIOR CAMPUS POLICY MAKERS AS WELL. FOR THIS ESSAY, DAVID HAD TO TAKE A SHORT HIATUS SO I AM FLYING SOLO ON THIS ONE. IN THIS PIECE, I BEGIN TO EXAMINE THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN INSTITUTIONAL ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT EFFORTS AND THE VARIOUS EXTERNAL FOR-PROFIT, AND NOT-FOR-PROFIT, BUSINESSES THAT HAVE BECOME PART OF THE ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT INDUSTRY. THIS IS A COMPLEX TOPIC, ONE THAT FRANKLY, I AM NOT SURE I AM ON THE RIGHT TRACK. BUT BOTH DAVID AND I THINK IT IS AN IMPORTANT AND INTRIGUING TOPIC. THIS ESSAY IS AN EFFORT TO BEGIN THE CONVERSATION, AND MAP THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN INSTITUTIONS, THE ENROLLMENT INDUSTRY, AND MORE INDIRECTLY-TO SOME EXTENT-STUDENTS, PARENTS, AND SOCIETY.

Part I

THE ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT INDUSTRY

There is little doubt that the business of student enrollments has become a big industry - not just for colleges and universities but for a variety of for-profit and notfor-profit businesses. These can include private guidance counseling to help students make decisions about where to apply and where to matriculate, to marketing firms, to software programs that offer to help institutions stay in touch with enrolled students and thus encourage them to persist until graduation. Although the market is undergoing dramatic changes, non-government based student lending has been yet another example of the pervasiveness of the enrollment industry. The search for additional revenue is even starting to influence the activities of enrollment-related professional organizations. However, there is a more difficult topic that we face: to what extent do the enrollment-related practices of postsecondary educational institutions more closely resemble those of businesses whose primary objectives are to generate profits for their stockholders or individuals (in the case of privately held businesses) as opposed to placing the primary emphasis on student learning and the other important goals of social critic, the generation of new knowledge, and redressing social inequalities.

While this topic of the enrollment industry encompasses a broad array of issues, there are four broad categories that merit some discussion:

* Enrollment management consulting services and related vendors;

* The student loan industry and related services;

* The rankings and college guidance publications;

* Postsecondary educational institutions and nonprofit professional associations.

This issue of College and University focuses on the first three categories. An examination of institutional practices and non-profit professional associations in the enrollment industry, which are nuanced and complex, merits a separate discussion in a future issue of C&U.

To set a context for this discussion of the enrollment industry, and to help explain the emergence of many of the policies and practices that are influencing various actors involved in enrollment management, the broader societal trends must be examined. There is no doubt that the neo-liberal ideology of privatization and the use of market mechanisms to achieve societal purposes more efficiently and effectively have taken center stage on both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum. Neo -liberalism has lead to the privatization of state enterprises, thus making these enterprises more responsible for raising their own income. Additionally, it has resulted in deregulation, with an emphasis on greater levels of competition among formerly public entities. …

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