The College Side of Admissions: Enrollment Management

Synchronicity happens:  A chance remark on a college visit, a pilot admissions program, and an article in the NYT the following day, launched my interest in enrollment management. Here’s how:

  1. During an open house I asked a professor about the difficulty of completing dual majors within four years. He responded, then added that a bigger problem the college faces is the number of students who complete their degrees in three or three and a half years* (due to arriving with a semester or two of college credits from AP, IB or dual credit courses taken in high school).  What problem? Empty rooms in dorms; empty seats in classrooms.
  2. Same open house: the Admissions Dean explained a new program they’re piloting, the Semester Gap. Students accepted into the program would spend first semester in a series of off-campus programs (paying tuition to the college), then arrive on campus in January. He only talked about the advantages to the student, but for the college, this program could fill those empty rooms and seats (not to mention gaining the “gap” tuition).
  3. The next day, the New York Times ran this article:  Admission to College, With Catch:  Year’s Wait. Some selective schools send out letters of acceptance, rejection, or — a third option — deferred acceptance, if the student attends college elsewhere for a year and maintains a required GPA. The student gets the option of attending his or her college of choice, next year. The college gets to bring in students (with known GPAs) next year to fill the empty slots left by transfers or drop-outs. [Of course, the temporary college, where the student spins wheels for a year, doesn’t like it.] The article is all about enrollment management, and this quote speaks to what I heard at the open house:

“We have a number of students who graduate midyear for a variety of reasons,” Mr. Caren said. “So the spring semester balances out very nicely and we can maintain the residence halls at fuller capacity.”

What does this have to do with admissions and helping our three students find and get into the colleges they want?

The more we understand about how admissions works and what framework the college (as a nonprofit business with income and expenses) works within, the better. None of this is new information to people working in higher ed, but it’s a useful perspective for non higher-ed parents.

*Some very selective schools require a full four year stay, regardless of when degree requirements are completed.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The College Side of Admissions: Enrollment Management

  1. Jen

    I’m hearing about more and more students who are going to community college first, then finishing their degree as a transfer student elsewhere — it saves them money and usually gives them an edge in getting into a school that they might not have gotten into otherwise. And, of course, in Virginia, there is that great program that guarantees automatic admission to participating universities (including UVA) if the student has a community college GPA of 3.2 (I think) or higher.

    • Great comment, Jen. UVA provides a document about the guaranteed transfer from VA community colleges here.
      I looked it up because I couldn’t recall the required GPA (it’s 3.4 with no grades below a C and the English 111 and 112 must be a B or better). One of the most financial-savvy and only [I think?] guaranteed way for a VA student to get a top-25 college education. The diploma doesn’t say “transfer from CC”.
      All that said, I know our three are looking to move out to a campus after HS.

  2. Jen

    I know of three local students who have been in the PVCC program, one of whom transferred to UVA, while the other two transferred to other four year colleges. All are very happy with their community college educations and don’t feel that they’ve missed out in any way by going on this career path. Even though we’ve already enrolled our daughters in Virginia’s pre-paid college tuition programs and have bought four years of undergrad for each, we’ve told them about the community college program and how it might work for them. And, if they go to PVCC first, we’ll have money left over from the pre-paid college tuition program to apply toward either a semester abroad or grad school later on.

  3. Pingback: Campus Visit: Elon University | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

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