SEM (Strategic Enrollment Management)


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SEM (Strategic Enrollment Management)

  1. 1. SEM (Strategic Enrollment Management) & the Challenge of Access : Truth or Dare by David H. Kalsbeek, Ph.D. DePaul University Keynote presentation at AACRAO’s 2005 National Annual Conference Theme: Access & Opportunity in Higher Education New York City March 30, 2005 Welcome & Acknowledgement Introduction: At the end of my few minutes with you today, I will have posed to you some questions about which you can reflect as you go through the rest of this conference and as you head back to your campuses when this conference concludes tomorrow. And those questions emerge from the confluence of three things: 1 First, the explicit theme or PURPOSE of this Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) conference : namely, to discuss access in & The Challenge of Access : American higher education 2 Second, the traditional attendance at this Truth or Dare particular conference, PARTICIPANTS who are university administrators - - as opposed Purpose: to public policymakers or college faculty, for Access example; 3 and third, the emerging professional orientation or PERSPECTIVE of this particular national annual conference and its Perspective : parent association: namely, the practice of Participants: Strategic what has come to be known as “enrollment University Enrollment management” or more particularly SEM Administrators Management (Strategic Enrollment Management) in American higher education. My hope and purpose is to illustrate, how the goal of access - - when framed at the institutional level - - presents a range of challenges and opportunities to all of us institutional administrators - - especially as we attempt to further the goals and purposes of SEM on our campuses. And I hope to illustrate how
  2. 2. this challenge is embedded in the systemic structures and deeply rooted realities of the higher education marketplace. I invite you to join me as I meander through my own Purpose of today’s presentation : musings about what we can do at our respective to illustrate how the goal of ‘access’ campuses to further the pursuit of access goals and – when framed at an institutional level – values, what we can do to help the leadership of our is a SEM challenge, institutions appreciate the magnitude and complexity grounded both in its interdependency of that challenge, and what we can do to influence with other institutional goals and in the basic structure the national dialogue in this regard. of the higher education market. I will dare you, challenge you to question how access relates to your institution’s strategic goals and its position in the academic marketplace. I want to leave you intrigued with some ways of posing & framing the pursuit of truth to those questions. And I hope to leave you both bothered and emboldened by the answers that emerge. General Outline I will quickly review some of the broad societal dynamics that shape our discussion of access & • SOCIETAL DYNAMICS opportunity, then explore some of the institutional – The Promise & Premise of Access – The Current Condition dynamics that frame a perspective on this challenge at – The Changing Federal & State Role the institutional level, and conclude with some insights • INSTITUTIONAL DYNAMICS on the systemic dynamics of the higher education – Access’ Interconnection with Institutional Goals – Access & the Press for Prestige market that create the context within which we can and • SYSTEMIC DYNAMICS will determine if SEM & ACCESS are incompatible or – The Higher Education Marketplace if they are inseparable as institutional values and viewpoints. In my very brief and rapid overview of the societal dynamics at the heart of the access debate, I will draw liberally, and at times verbatim but without full reference, from the great work of the American Council on Education in their recent book “The Condition of Access” edited by Donald Heller and more specifically the work of Brian Fitzgerald in that text and also his recent article in Change magazine on the access and affordability crisis …all of which I commend to your attention.
  3. 3. INSPIRED VISIONS American higher education has long held access as The Promise of Access one of its principle values. “The goal and promise has always been to ensure, The goal and promise has always been to ensure, at at a minimum, that a minimum, that lower income students have the lower income students have the opportunity to opportunity to attend college without being unduly attend either a two-year or four-year public institution full time constrained by high costs. and not be constrained unduly by high costs that are unmet by financial aid and , accordingly, the And while the promise and the premise of access to necessity to work or borrow excessively.” higher education remains at the center of our national dialogue, it is an increasingly obvious shortcoming of – The Condition of Access our current educational system, an unrealized aspiration, and, as a result, a weakened part of our social fabric and social contract. We gather here in 2005, 40 years after the 1965 Higher Education Act, which not only put into place and put into motion many of the policy & programmatic solutions to the challenge of access that remain today, but successfully framed our entire approach to access. It’s an approach that has been remarkably persistent for 40 years in defining the way we conceive of the financial aid industry, the financial needs of families and students, and the accountabilities of governments and institutions in addressing our national commitments to an educated citizenry. The 1965 ACT created a mental model which, despite cataclysmic changes in so many other dimensions of our society and our world, has remained largely intact. So we should be gathering here today to celebrate 40 years of unrelenting progress and the fulfillment of the INSPIRED VISIONS reflected in the 1965 ACT. In the 1960s, the nation faced a crisis of opportunity and equity similar to today : – We had swelling enrollments and inadequate capacity on college campuses; – Race and ethnicity played a substantial role in determining college attendance; – There was widespread recognition that financial barriers severely restricted access to higher education; students of high income families were 5 times more likely to attend college than low income students. Though I wasn’t exactly paying attention to this issue at the time from my 4th grade classroom, it is my understanding that the national solutions in the 1960s were driven by two distinct justifications: – First, the vision was for improving economic opportunity : recognizing the benefits of a more educated citizenry, outcomes like a flexible workforce, lower crime rate, concern for environment, higher level of public health, increased productivity, etc. – The second element of the vision of the 1960’s was a commitment to social equity : a commitment to a goal of providing all citizens equal opportunities for personal advancement through participation in higher education.
  4. 4. The Promise of Access “In making the promise of access, the goal of the 1965 act was clear: to narrow over time the unacceptable income-related gaps existing in “In making the promise of access, the goal of the 1965 Act was clear : postsecondary participation, persistence, and degree completion.” to narrow over time the unacceptable income-related gaps existing in These were INSPIRED VISIONS indeed. postsecondary participation, persistence, and degree completion. “ And those visions were realized with a wide range of INITIAL VICTORIES. • The Condition of Access When we ask ourselves how are we doing in making good on the promise and premise of access, and we look at what evidence we have of progress toward those noble hopes and aspirations - - how does it look? Any discussion of access certainly tends to focus first on participation in higher education. For example, we know that interest in postsecondary education among high school completers is now almost universal; 97% of high school completers report that they plan to continue their education at some time and 71% expect to earn a bachelor’s degree; even among low income students whose parents have no college education, the aspirations for higher education have both broadened and elevated. We also know that enrollment in college immediately after high school has risen over the past 20 years; the proportion of high school completers who enroll in an institution of higher education immediately following high school has in fact increased considerably: over the past 20 years or so, it’s gone from about 50% to 65%, from half to two-thirds. In this regard, we have much to be proud of – and the overall participation rate in higher education in America is and should be a source of national pride and international admiration. INESCAPABLE VERDICTS But despite evidence of some victories in overall participation rates, the persisting, disturbing reality is this: Despite an increase in the college-going rate for families The Challenge of Access Today in all income ranges, there continues to be an understandable, even predictable, disparity in participation by income level. Despite an increase in the college-going rate for families in all income ranges, And most disappointing is the fact that the gap in the gap in participation participation between low and high income families between low and high income families has remained constant for over 30 years - - -at 32 has remained at 32 percentage points percentage points. While the level of participation has for over 30 years. improved for all, the magnitude of the gap in participation – the very inequity we had hoped to address – Condition of Access back in 1965 – has remained the same for 30 years.
  5. 5. But compared to the persistent gaps in college participation, the gap in degree attainment is far wider, and this is critical because the name of the game is not participation, but degree completion ; we need to Compared to the participation gaps, remember that it’s really all about attainment, not the gap in degree attainment access. As my colleague Brian Zucker puts it, access is far wider without attainment is access to nothing. • Condition of Access [N.B. Another corresponding and inescapable reality is not only these lower rates of general participation but that among those who DO attend college where students enroll is related to family income. The lowest income students – while now more likely to participate than decades before - - are nonetheless more likely to attend public two-year institutions than are the highest-income students and less likely to attend a four-year college; Only one in five students from lowest SES quartile who goes to college enrolls in a four-year institution, compared to two of three from highest quartile. The most disadvantaged students are increasingly concentrated at community colleges. Now while that’s a good thing in terms of affordable participation in higher education, we know that community college students are far less likely to earn a four-year degree than those who start out at a four-year college. ] At the level of attainment, our progress hasn’t been as admirable. For example: In 1975, 7% of those in the bottom income quartile and about 40% of those in the top quartile received a baccalaureate degree by age 24. In the ensuing 25 years, the number for the bottom quartile stayed constant at between 5% and 8%, while the rate for the top quartile generally grew to somewhere between the mid 50s and the high 60s. So here’s the INESCAPABLE VERDICT, as Tom Mortenson’s valuable research has concluded : Every time you go up one quartile in family income, your chance of earning a bachelor’s degree by age 24 in America today just about doubles. Our dialogue about access and the ongoing disparities in the entire postsecondary education experience between low and high income students can go on and on. There is no shortage of evidence about the pervasive challenges faced by prospective college students whose families are in lower-income brackets. We have ample evidence through the studies of the educational choices, experiences and outcomes of low income students that if our goal, our premise and SEM & The Challenge of Access our promise is that students, regardless of their financial situation, can participate fully in and benefit fully from the extraordinary educational system we have created in America, we’ve far to go….. Any comprehensive and candid review of the national evidence reflects that the chasm between the inspired visions and initial victories of the 1960s and the inescapable verdicts today 40 years later is wide and Inspired Initial Inescapable deep – and getting wider and deeper over time. Visions Victories Verdicts
  6. 6. Of course we have to acknowledge that the access debate in the United States has also rendered a verdict regarding academic preparedness – as Dr. Michael Nettles noted in his opening address at this conference. Financial accessibility is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient in realizing the promise of access in America. There is clearly much work to be done in K-12 education to ensure that all students complete secondary education in ways that prepare them for college. But my concern today is an institutional focus on financial accessibility, and as important as it is to also discuss how to elevate levels of educational achievement and improve remediation, early intervention, and so on, I keep coming back to four numbers drawn from Brian Fitzgerald’s work, perhaps the most damning findings of recent studies of the access crisis. If we take the high school graduating population and identify the highest and the lowest quartiles The Current State of Access on two different dimensions – socioeconomic status (SES) and academic preparedness or • Percentage of HS Grads Attending College achievement, and then juxtapose those in a 2x2 matrix : Achievement SES Quartile * First we see what we all already know: that Quartile nearly all of the most affluent and best qualified Lowest Highest high school grads in America attend college. Highest 78% 97% * And secondly we also see something we all know: that due both to factors related to Lowest 36% 77% socioeconomic status and academic preparedness, only about 1/3 of the poorest and least prepared students attend college. * But the most bothersome finding is this: The highest achieving poor students attend college at the same rate (78%) as the lowest achieving wealthy students (77%). “The college-going rate of the highest-socioeconomic status students with the lowest achievement levels is the same as the poorest students with the highest achievement levels.” (B.Fitzgerald.) Socioeconomic status remains such a powerful barrier to attending college that it trumps academic preparation even for the best and brightest achievers. Is it any wonder that one of the recent national reports on the status of access in the United States was entitled “ACCESS DENIED” ? The social consequences of these realities are staggering - - and multiple studies have tried to estimate the magnitude of the impact of the access denied to so many deserving students. The Lumina Foundation calculates that during the last decade, an estimated 1 million academically qualified low- income students failed to attend college due in some part to financial need. Another study calculates that in 2002 alone, due to record-high financial barriers, nearly one-half of all college-qualified low- and moderate-income high school graduates will be unable to do so - - that’s over 400,000 students who were fully prepared academically to attend a four-year college but who did not; and nearly half of these students attended no college at all” Is it any wonder that another national report outlining the consequences of our 40 year old pursuit of the goal of access was entitled “EMPTY PROMISES”?
  7. 7. Of course, the final pivotal element in the current access dialogue surfaces when we stop looking at today’s challenges and begin to anticipate tomorrow’s . We face a demographic future that is going to overwhelm our current system of higher education and exacerbate all of the challenges previously noted. Demographic change will swell the number of high school graduates to unprecedented levels as the children of the Baby Boom generation and new immigrants flood high schools and colleges. The demographic trend will peak in 2008/09 when the largest number of students in the history of our nation will graduate from high school. This record number of students – along with their diversity, socioeconomic profile, level of parental education, and academic preparedness will place even greater strains on all of our systems of higher education and higher education financing. In an extraordinary understatement, the recently published report on “The Condition of Access” in the “in promoting access United States concludes that : to higher education, • “in promoting access to higher education, policymakers are currently policymakers are currently facing immense facing immense challenges challenges that show no signs of abating” that show no signs of abating” » The Condition of Access
  8. 8. So what’s been going on ? How can a challenge so clearly envisioned 40 years ago and a set of solutions so sweeping in scope and comprehensive in execution have left us still struggling today with unmet goals and unrealized aspirations? Bottom-line, there have been tectonic shifts in Shifts in educational educational policy at the federal, state and institutional policy, priorities and practice levels that have and still are adversely affecting access at federal, state & institutional levels to higher education for students of disadvantaged are adversely affecting backgrounds, shifts that have thwarted the promise of access to higher education access laid out in 1965. for students of disadvantaged backgrounds. In a nutshell, let’s just recap a few of these trends: At the FEDERAL LEVEL: The Changing Landscape First, we face the declining power of the Pell Grant. • “Pell Grants were to be the main engine of • Federal access and choice” and there’s an immense – Erosion of the Pell Grant body of evidence that these grants were – Shift toward loans – Shift toward tax credits effective in achieving exactly their intended goal – namely, to close the gap between family resources and college costs that would otherwise preclude college participation and attainment. • But we all know that “the purchasing power of Pell Grants has diminished over time, limiting students’ opportunities and options.” • The erosion in the purchasing power of the maximum Pell Grant over two decades is estimated as declining from a high of 84% of public college tuition in the mid 1970s to only 37% today. • The maximum Pell award would have to almost double for the purchasing power to be fully restored. - -- and though the billions of dollars it would take looks pretty paltry compared to latest supplemental budget request for the Iraq war – we all know it’s not forthcoming. Secondly, at the federal level, we see the explosion of student loans. • “Since 1980, the federal financial aid system has been transformed – from one characterized mainly by need-based grants to one dominated by loans” and by a growing level of student borrowing with all of the attendant consequences of growing student indebtedness. • In 1981, loans accounted for 45% and grants for 52% of all student financial aid. By 2000, loans represented about 60% of all aid and grants represented only about 40%. And if only federally funded aid is considered, loans now account for 80% and grants only 20% of the federal financial aid.” The third dynamic at the federal level is this: if the 1980s were marked by a shift in the federal government’s role in ensuring access from grants to loans, the 1990’s were marked by a shift to an aid
  9. 9. policy even less focused on the needs of the most disadvantaged and more responsive to the preferences of the middle-income families who wield greater political clout. This is seen in the shift in federal posture is toward tax credits. • The HOPE and Lifelong Learning federal tax credits that were enacted during the Clinton administration are comparable to merit aid in their impact… merit awards, the main beneficiaries of tax credits are families whose children would go to college anyway. Rather than focus on the programs designed to ensure access for low-income students, the federal government has shifted its priority toward programs improving affordability for middle income families. THE STATE’s ROLE Of course the federal government is only one actor The Changing Landscape in this drama; enter the States – and the reasons for today’s access challenges become even clearer. • Federal – Erosion of the Pell Grant In Brian Fitzgerald’s history lesson on American – Shift toward loans higher education, I learned something I never – Shift toward tax credits knew : that America’s Founding Father’s • State considered the creation of a national university – Escalating tuition system. But a decision was made instead to grant – Declining support for higher education primary responsibility for higher education to the – Shift to merit scholarships states. How interesting it is to imagine what a national system of higher education would look like today, and in particular : how it would effect the bracketology of March Madness? Seriously, we all know that “In the American system, the states bear primary responsibility for higher education policy, for support of higher education, and for providing financial assistance to students in public and private higher education.” But in recent years, several trends have dominated the states’ financing of public higher education and that have hampered our pursuit of the promise of access. First, state policies have permitted tuition increases over the past decade that have outstripped general inflation, surpassed the rate of growth in family income, and increased the reliance of many families on student aid. Naturally, the steepest increases in tuition have occurred during recessionary years when families face greatest economic hardship. And that occurs because of the second challenge: every time there is a recession, states cut higher education budgets. State support for higher education has fallen as share of total state expenditures and certainly not kept pace with enrollment demand or the costs of educational programs and services at our universities today. Budget cuts required by the current recession have been exacted disproportionately from higher education. And like the Pell Grants, the purchasing power of state-funded need-based grants has fallen through the 1990s and into this decade.
  10. 10. The net effect of all of this is a shifting of the burden of financing public higher education from the state to the individual. Sadly, neither the cuts in higher education funding during the 1990s recession nor the state fiscal crises in the current recession have been accompanied by policies to insulate low and moderate income students from the impact of the accompanying tuition increases. In fact, almost to the contrary, the states’ approach mirrors the federal one, in which policy and preference is shifting to address affordability for those with some means rather than access for those with little to no financial means. Specifically, we see this in the emergence of state merit aid programs. Most state merit aid program subsidize students who already can afford to pay for college and who are already college bound, while failing to lower the financial barriers for low income students who, without assistance, are not likely to attend college at all. In 1990 only 10% of state aid was awarded without regard to financial need; today fully one-fourth of state aid is available to all students – even those from the wealthiest families As Brian Fitzgerald has noted in his analysis, “despite the long standing recognition that lowering financial barriers is essential to ensuring opportunity, shifts in policy priorities at the federal and state levels have been responsible for increased financial barriers. In particular, shifts from a political and policy focus on low income access toward a popular focus on moderate and upper income affordability have allowed the opportunity gap to not only persist – but to widen even further - for 40 years.” “The problem of unequal And so, in yet another great understatement, the ACE’s opportunity has proved more reports have concluded that: “The problem of unequal intractable than anyone opportunity has proved more intractable than anyone anticipated in the early years of anticipated in the early years of the Higher Education the Higher Education Act.” Act.” The Condition of Access • The Condition of Access There’s little that I’ve shared so far that you haven’t likely heard and read already, since there is a growing chorus of INDIGNANT VOICES throughout higher education, in our professional associations, among our federal and state policymakers protesting this continuous erosion in this nation’s support for the INSPIRED VISIONS of 40 years ago. And it’s easy to conclude as you listen to some of the clarion calls for action at the policy level that all of these changes in federal and state practices and priorities over the decades constitute the hand we’ve been dealt. At least that’s the posture which I find many institutional leaders taking, that somehow, at the institutional level where we all live and breathe, we are all INNOCENT VICTIMS of economic forces and political realities at the federal and state levels that are making our work more difficult – if not impossible - in trying to realize our unflagging commitment to access.
  11. 11. But are we all just INNOCENT VICTIMS in an increasingly hostile political and policy environment? Were it only that simple. Were that your role in this arena that benign, that passive, that peripheral, that innocent. For when you read the current literature carefully and listen to the indignant voices dominating the national dialogue about access, you will see that WE are collectively the 3rd culprit in this unfolding drama: Let me quote a few of our most outspoken leaders in this arena: At the state, federal and institutional levels, student financial aid policies “have focused increasingly on making college more affordable for middle-income students, rather than on the fundamental goal of making postsecondary education accessible to all qualified students” Sandy Baum The federal government, state governments, and colleges and universities themselves have backed away from the commitment to measure and meet financial need that has dominated thinking about higher education finance in this country since the 1960s. Structural shifts in the targeting of aid have played an important role, we believe, in the declining access to and increasing stratification in higher education. “ Mcpherson and Schapiro Those of us in positions of institutional leadership – SEM & The Challenge of Access particularly those of us who lead institutional enrollment strategy, are hardly painted as just INNOCENT VICTIMS. To the contrary, we are INDICTED as institutional VILLIANS. Along with the federal and state governments, colleges and universities themselves are implicated co-conspirators in the collective, societal reneging on the promise of access in America. Indignant Innocent Indicted Voices Victims Villains Inspired Initial Inescapable Visions Victories Verdicts How are we complicit? The Changing Landscape Well, according to the increasingly vocal critics of • Federal – Erosion of the Pell Grant the institutional role in the access crisis, the most – Shift toward loans obvious evidence of our complicity is the – Shift toward tax credits dramatically escalating tuition and fees charged by • State institutions of higher education. – Escalating tuition – Declining support for higher education – Shift to merit scholarships * College tuition remained nearly flat in the 1970s • Institutional when adjusted for inflation, then soared after 1980. – Escalating costs & tuition price Average, inflation-adjusted tuition prices have more – Enrollment Management than doubled for both public and private four year institutions since 1980.
  12. 12. * During same time, median family income was stagnant, rising less than 25%. * So the net result is that college costs as a share of income have increased – and have increased most dramatically for lowest income families; the average price of public four year institution represented 60% of income in 1999 compared to 40% about 30 years earlier for low-income families. Other studies cite other comparable rates, and the point is the same. Are we complicit in this? Sure we are : • those of us who are actively involved in tuition pricing decisions that create a growing affordability burden certainly share the blame; • those of us who either actively advocate or passively permit fee creep on our campuses are at fault; • those of us who aren’t doing all we can to control the costs of our services and programs contribute to the problem; • those of us who will eat an extravagant meal or two at this conference and pass those costs back to our institutional budgets to be paid – indirectly but in large part – by student tuition, aren’t innocent; • those of us who have failed over the years to paint a sufficiently vivid portrait for our Boards, our faculty , our Presidents of the extraordinary lengths our students and families go to afford our escalating costs, are hardly blameless. • Of course we’re all inescapably, undeniably collectively guilty of contributing to the escalating costs – tuition and otherwise – borne by our students. But our roles and responsibilities in battling the ever-escalating costs and list price of an American college or university education are not my focus today - - that’s perhaps for another time and place. The increasingly vehement rhetoric being levied against you – against me - -against us in the heated access debate is focused not upon institutional tuition pricing decisions so generally but more specifically upon the practices, purposes and principles of ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT. In particular, the focus is usually on how the practice of strategic enrollment management – or SEM - has introduced approaches to net revenue optimization which use institutionally budgeted funds to shape enrollment profiles, particularly via price discounting. But while that’s the specific practice most frequently criticized, the indictments are levied against SEM broadly. Let me read to you some of the verbatim comments from some of the more august commentators on the national crisis of access: • “Over the last ten to fifteen years colleges and universities (and the consulting industry that supports and is supported by them) have responded to intensified competition for students by adopting an instrumental view of aid as part of an enrollment management strategy. Rather than seeking to eliminate price as a factor in college choice, which is the official ideology in ‘meeting need”, schools are turning the net price to their advantage in the competitive struggle” • “The Ivy League schools are latecomers to the use of financial aid as a competitive strategy. The rest of the industry is well ahead in using merit aid, preferential and differential packaging, idiosyncratic measurement of need, and other techniques to make their aid dollars serve institutional self interest” • “Non-need aid is only a partial indicator of the extent to which colleges [now] use aid as a competitive device. Other enrollment management strategies are less easy to measure quantitatively. However,
  13. 13. many indicators suggest that colleges are departing further and further from the kind of aid award practices that a simple focus on meeting need would imply” And here’s the sweeping judgment by these scholars and presidents commenting on the practice of enrollment management : • “These trends are no doubt dismaying to many college leaders, and especially to student aid officials, most of who feel strong professional and ethical commitments to a need-based aid system” There’s nothing subtle here. There’s nothing even thinly veiled - • in these indictments of enrollment management, • in these assertions that it is SEM - particularly as reflected in the emergence of elaborate and market-responsive price differentiation strategies - that is partially contributing to the empty promises of access in higher education • in these accusations that SEM is somehow violating professional and ethical standards in ways which many college leaders would find abhorrent. This is an unfortunate dimension of the access debate - - and like the access challenge itself, it shows no sign of abating. The national dialogue has presented to us a challenge of the first order which, IF AACRAO indeed purports to be the professional home of Strategic Enrollment Management, must be addressed head on by this association, by its leadership, and by its membership. Let me offer one slight caveat here : This same indictment is echoed overseas. For example, as institutions in the UK begin to charge students tuition and fees for the first time, they realize that they thereby become organizations ruled by market forces. And they are questioning how they will be able to remain committed to access as the dominant social good realized through previous funding models once they’ve succumbed to the “marketization” of the academy. So they look across the pond to the US - - to consider what lessons are to be learned from this emerging practice of enrollment management - - -and they find us wanting in nearly every regard. My Enrollment Management team at DePaul has begun a dialogue with several associations and consortia of institutions in the UK - - on the basis of DePaul’s visible and mission-driven commitment to balancing access with market savvy and market responsiveness. But in general, the international verdict is as clear as the accusations from within the American higher education community: the persistent access crisis in the US has as one of its culprits or catalysts the emergence of the practices and perspectives of Strategic Enrollment Management.
  14. 14. General Outline So here’s where I’d like us to begin to play TRUTH • SOCIETAL DYNAMICS or DARE in trying to grapple with the complex and – The Promise & Premise of Access – The Current Condition clearly controversial connection between ACCESS – The Changing Federal & State Role & SEM at the institutional level . • INSTITUTIONAL DYNAMICS – Access’ Interconnection with Institutional Goals – Access & the Press for Prestige We know the truth about the increasing • SYSTEMIC DYNAMICS challenges created by the shifting priorities and – The Higher Education Marketplace politics, roles and resources of federal and state governments in ensuring access. But have we explored fully the truth about the institutional dynamics also at work ? Should we dare those who judge Enrollment Management practices so harshly to first explore the broader market factors and systemic market structures that are foundational to any strategic enrollment outcome? Will any of us dare our institutional leadership to reconcile their rhetoric about their commitment to access with the realities of the institutional priorities that guide their strategic plans – especially their pursuit of prestige - - all of which may work in direct opposition to the access goals they espouse ? Here’s my first challenge that I want to pose to you today: Are our commitments to the promise and premise of access and our commitments to the practices and principles of SEM invariably, essentially and irreconcilably at odds ? SEM & The Challenge of Access Remember: there are indignant voices in this national discourse that would boldly, even belligerently say How does a commitment to YES. making higher educational accessible for lower income families interact – and perhaps conflict – with other But to the contrary, I think that it is only through institutional commitments & enrollment goals ? the perspective and practice of SEM that Quality ? Net Revenue ? Diversity ? institutions can fully comprehend and thereby more effectively respond to the challenge & the hope of access – at the institutional level.
  15. 15. EXAMPLE #1 : AID LEVERAGE & DISCOUNT ANALYSIS Let me share with you one very traditional Enrollment Management tool or technique that has emerged as an approach to mapping & measuring an enrollment strategy – and more specifically as a tool for allocating or leveraging financial aid resources toward the realization of enrollment priorities - - including but not limited to access. Expected SEGMENTING THE FRESHMAN CLASS Our basic approach is to array a student by Level of Family Resources and Strength of Academic Profile: Family Contribution population, in this case a freshman class, across two dimensions: Non-Aid Applicant HIGH • their academic profile – a 6 point grading of academic preparedness Highest (ACT, GPA, etc) across the x axis from low to the left to the best and brightest on the right; Family • their family financial resources, in Financial this case a 6 tiered scale from the least Mid Resources affluent at the bottom toward more affluent toward the top, with the highest row being those not even filing for financial assistance. Lowest LOW Academic Profile HIGH What this analysis enables us to do is to Academic Rating (Based on ACT, HS Class Rank, HS GPA) / (Median ACT shown) 1 2 3 4 segment our entire student population - - or, 5 6 again, in this case a freshman class - - across these two dimensions. Each cell on this grid represents a segment of the student body – described simultaneously by their academic abilities and their financial resources. In this next chart, the size of the bubble in each cell represents the number of students in Expected Number of Enrolled Freshmen Family Contribution that segment. Non-Aid 129 72 99 70 67 51 Applicant Highest Highest At its simplest level, this grid enables us to identify, compare and contrast the enrollment Income Income Highest 45 40 65 45 50 63 dynamics characteristic of: Lowest Highest • the highest income/highest ability 39 Ability 42 50 47 Ability 47 64 students toward the top right • the lowest income/lowest ability 57 56 60 52 58 61 toward the bottom left Mid Lowest Lowest • the highest income/lowest ability Income Income toward the top left 74 64 85 67 61 46 Lowest Highest • and the low income but very well Ability Ability prepared students toward the bottom Lowest 100 68 75 57 58 31 right of this chart Academic Rating (Based on ACT, HS Class Rank, HS GPA) / (Median ACT shown) 1 2 3 4 5 6
  16. 16. Expected Family Number of Admitted Applicants Contribution Non-Aid Applicant 523 416 533 387 469 428 The array of enrolled students is actually drawn from the profile of students admitted to the $21,770 100 102 131 126 153 193 university out of its applicant pool. This chart and Above shows that group of admitted students – with a $11,042 to 86 102 139 144 148 190 notably larger group of students on the top row, $21,769 representing all of those who apply and who are admitted but whose interest in our institution was $4,575 to 99 106 150 129 150 178 $11,041 not strong enough to prompt them to apply for financial aid. $831 to $4,574 122 124 146 155 142 123 Under $831 163 129 176 138 129 77 Academic Rating (Based on ACT, HS Class Rank, HS GPA) / (Median ACT shown) 1 – (19) 2 – (21) 3 – (22) 4 – (24) 5 – (25) 6 – (28) Expected Family Average Enrollment Yield So our enrollment strategy is typically focused Contribution on achieving a competitive and sufficient Non-Aid 24% 17% 18% 18% 14% 12% ‘enrollment yield’ from that admitted pool and Applicant across the widely varying segments of students 45% 39% 48% 35% 31% 32% Highest applying and admitted. This chart shows the yield rate, or the percent of those admitted who actually enrolled at the institution. We see 45% 41% 35% 33% 32% 34% considerable variance in those yield rates across the various segments – representing the Mid 57% 53% 40% 40% 39% 34% institution’s position in the market and the outcomes of efforts to recruit and enroll its 59% 52% 58% 41% 43% 37% desired mix. In this case, in every column, you find a higher Lowest 60% 51% 42% 41% 44% 40% enrollment yield as you move down the chart – a reflection of an institution committed to access Academic Rating (Based on ACT, HS Class Rank, HS GPA) / (Median ACT shown) and enabling students of limited means to be 1 2 3 4 5 6 able to enroll, across all levels of academic ability. At most institutions, an enrollment strategy focused on Expected Average Tuition Discount Family achieving competitive and sufficient ‘enrollment yields’ Contribution across various segments requires widely varying levels of Non-Aid Applicant 3% 3% 4% 13% 17% 36% institutional financial aid to achieve those yield rates. That level of institutional aid can be described as a ‘tuition Highest 1% 4% 9% 8% 14% 46% discount’ : the amount of grant/scholarship aid offered as a percent of tuition. 19% 18% 27% 21% 33% 58% In this case, we see larger discounts as one moves down – ` reflective of greater financial commitments to respond to 23% 28% 36% 39% 37% 57% financial need; we also see larger discounts as one moves Mid to the right, reflective of the greater discount required to achieve a competitive yield rate among the brighter 32% 35% 43% 42% 44% 58% students who have more options available to them. 34% 36% 38% 41% 48% 53% Lowest Academic Rating (Based on ACT, HS Class Rank, HS GPA) / (Median ACT shown) 1 2 3 4 5 6
  17. 17. So here’s the big picture as an enrollment manager must look at a freshman class: for an entire class and after all financial aid is allocated to shape that class, the resulting aggregate net revenue for the institution can be arrayed across this grid. And we see that a disproportionate share of net revenue comes from certain segments of the class. Expected Aggregate Net Tuition Revenue To illustrate, the blue-shaded cell to the lower Family Contribution right and the green-shaded cell at the upper left have exactly the same number of students Non-Aid Applicant $2,255,207 $1,261,337 $1,715,916 $1,101,466 $1,001,347 $587,493 charged the exact same tuition rate to enroll at the institution. But the institution nets over $21,770 $802,485 $702,824 $1,081,277 $743,787 $799,618 $619,613 and Above twice as much revenue from the green segment than the blue; in other words, it takes $11,042 to $564,899 $622,483 $668,697 $671,949 $568,679 $495,886 two blue-cell students (academically well $21,769 prepared but financially needy) to generate the ` $4,575 to $786,127 $721,561 $691,891 $570,770 $656,713 $469,633 same revenue as one green-cell student (less $11,041 academically prepared but with more financial $831 to resources available). $4,574 $898,670 $743,371 $865,834 $699,322 $612,465 $351,159 Under $831 $1,175,973 $783,423 $841,697 $607,145 $545,321 $262,915 Academic Rating (Based on ACT, HS Class Rank, HS GPA) / (Median ACT shown) 1 – (19) 2 – (21) 3 – (22) 4 – (24) 5 – (25) 6 – (28) Expected Black and Hispanic as % of All Enrolled Of course, most enrollment strategies are not all Family Contribution about revenue. . This grid illustrates other insights that come from 11% 3% 6% 7% 6% 4% Non-Aid Applicant this analytic approach – in this case the institution’s commitment to ensuring diversity. In $21,770 7% 8% 14% 7% 10% 2% this chart, we’re simply looking at the percentage and Above of each cell that is comprised of Black or $11,041 to 21% 12% 22% 30% 13% 13% Hispanic/Latino students. We see these students $21,769 disproportionately clustered in the lower tiers of financial ability – and while arrayed across all 35% 34% 32% 23% 19% 15% $4,575 to $11041 academic ability columns, they cluster disproportionately in the lower left. $831 to $4,574 65% 50% 44% 51% 21% 24% Particularly, the diversity of that blue-shaded segment of students, which generates half as much Under $831 64% 51% 59% 32% 38% 26% net tuition revenue per student than the green segment, has over 3 times greater diversity or Academic Rating (Based on ACT, HS Class Rank, HS GPA) / (Median ACT shown) representation of Black/Hispanic/Latino students 1 – (19) 2 – (21) 3 – (22) 4 – (24) 5 – (25) 6 – (28) than the green.
  18. 18. Managing the mix defines the enrollment management challenge on our campuses; and the forces effecting that mix include the different interests of key institutional stakeholders: Expected Family Managing the Mix Who pushes strategy toward the right – Contribution toward higher and higher academic Non-Aid 129 72 99 70 67 51 profile or merit ? Typically, the faculty, Applicant the deans, and chief academic officers. 45 40 65 Margin45 50 63 Highest Who pushes strategy upward, 39 42 50 47 47 64 particularly toward the upper left – Market Merit toward higher and higher net revenue Mid 57 56 60 52 58 61 margin ? Typically, the CFOs and often the Board. 74 64 85 Mission67 61 46 Who pushes strategy downward, particularly toward the bottom right - Lowest 100 68 75 57 58 31 toward meeting the needs of the Academic Rating (Based on ACT, HS Class Rank, HS GPA) / (Median ACT shown) financially disadvantaged but 1 2 3 4 5 6 academically capable ? The financial aid officers and, depending on the school, the mission of the institution. What forces pull an enrollment strategy toward the bottom left – toward less affluent and less prepared students? The entire tsunami of demographic and societal change that the Admissions office faces in the coming decade pulls us in that direction. The challenges and tensions of SEM can be in large part defined by the strategic balancing of these competing forces. What I have just shown you is the basic construct which SEM’s critics have in their crosshairs when taking shots at how the practice of enrollment management is partially to blame for our current access crisis. That’s because this kind of analytic model and process allows some institutions in a clear, calculated manner to trade off using financial aid solely to “meet need” with using aid to improve yield among high ability or more affluent segments of the student market in order to shape their enrollment and realize goals of quality, diversity, and net revenue – in addition to access. Unfortunately, in much of that criticism, this single analytic tool is equated with SEM and vice versa. I understand why the critics of Enrollment Management techniques are upset with this; I too tend to curse my hammer every time I whack my thumb. But I would argue: what better way to help our institutions - - our execs, boards, faculty, - - understand those tradeoffs and appreciate the balancing act that is strategic enrollment management? We can bemoan the fact that these tools enable schools to leverage institutionally budgeted aid toward goals and objectives other than ensuring access for the neediest, but isn’t the truth that these tools also enable us to frame the debate about access in more meaningful and measurable terms than ever before ? Isn’t it the development of these very SEM constructs and perspectives that has helped us weigh the real costs of our values and ambitions, to know the price of our principles, to quantify the inextricably intertwined interdependencies of our institutional intentions, and thereby juxtapose our rhetoric about access with the reality of our institution’s multiple and legitimate enrollment goals?
  19. 19. Do we have incompatible values at work here ? No doubt we do. But there’s no incompatibility between the practice of Enrollment Management per se and the goal of access. In fact it is the SEM perspective that brings to the SEM & The Challenge of Access forefront of our attention the fundamental conflicts that have long resided in our multiple institutional values, the chasm between the rhetoric of our values and the reality of our actions, the incompatibility of many of the directions pursued simultaneously as part of our institutions’ strategic enrollment goals. Incompatible Values Indignant Innocent Indicted And that’s my dare to you today : as campus Voices Victims Villains leaders, to ensure that SEM on your campus is not a de facto surrender of your access commitments and Inspired Initial Inescapable values but rather is acknowledged as a strategic way Visions Victories Verdicts to embrace the challenge of access, to elevate the dialogue and energize the debate and enlighten the decisions we make every day at the institutional level. SIDE NOTE: The critique of these approaches to SEM, as I read to you earlier, continues to be grounded in calls to return to approaches of “meeting the need” of all students rather than using scholarships and grants to shape other dimensions of the enrollment profile. The critiques stake out some presumed moral high-ground that is the exclusive province of need-based aid strategies. But let’s be honest: the concept of “meeting need” lost any meaning ages ago. Our calculations of need are problematic, and our rhetoric about meeting need is disingenuous in light of the fact that most of us have absolutely no clue as to how the ‘expected family contribution” which determines calculated need is managed by most families. Few institutions have unpacked the black box of the EFC, and therefore should not dare to hide behind meeting residual need as a sufficient gauge of ensuring access. The truth is this: the formulaic fortress within which some critics of enrollment management take shelter is itself a flimsy house of cards. On this 40th anniversary year of the 1965 Higher Education Act that created it, do we dare now lay bare the truth about shortcomings of the entire federal formulae, formulae which while well intentioned, hardly offer a solid and sufficient foundation for mapping and measuring and maintaining access.
  20. 20. EXAMPLE #2 : US NEWS and the PURSUIT of PRESTIGE Let me offer a second example of how an enrollment management perspective on access at the institutional level brings to us ways to help our institutions appreciate the INCOMPATIBLE VALUES that frame and fuel this challenge. Here’s another example of how to illustrate these inherently incompatible values, in this case not the incompatibilities between SEM and ACCESS, but between ACCESS and our institutions’ aspirations for PRESTIGE – particularly as reflected in national rankings such as US NEWS. US NEWS Rankings : In this so-called box & whiskers chart, we see the four tiers of Doctoral Universities national doctoral institutions according to the rankings of US NEWS arrayed across the horizontal or x axis. Tier 1 – the highest PEER ASSESSMENT ranked institutions – is toward the left, and moving right we have Tier 2, 3 and then 4. 6 5 Up the y vertical axis we’ll see in a series of charts the various measures that comprise the rankings – in this case the peer PEER ASSESSMENT 4 assessment, or the subjective rating of quality on a scale of 1-5. Each box shows the range of the 25th to the 75th percentile of those 3 2 ratings for each tier. The top line is the highest score and the bottom line the lowest score at each tier. The bold mark within 1 N= 51 1 78 2 65 3 55 4 each red box marks the MEDIAN for each tier. TIER The long line across the chart represents DePaul’s rating – US NEWS Rankings : in this case right at the median of 3rd tier, below the 25th Doctoral Universities percentile of 2nd tier and lower than any top tier institution. ACT SCORE* The point is to note the visible relationship between this 40 variable (peer ratings ) and the ranking of Tiers 1 through 4. Naturally there’s a relationship since the peer assessment is one of the variables that determines the ranking that’s 30 reflected in the US News tiers. ACT SCORE We see the same pattern for the average ACT score for the 20 institutions’ freshmen classes – with the median for Tier 2 the same as the lowest of all Tier 1 schools. DePaul is at the median for Tier 3. 10 N= 51 78 64 51 1 2 3 4 TIER For institutions that use SAT, scores were converted Scores represent the mean of the reported range US NEWS Rankings : Doctoral Universities FRESHMAN IN TOP 10% OF HS CLASS 1.2 The pattern for high school class rank is remarkable, 1.0 showing clearly how widely disparate the freshman class at Tier 1 schools is from the rest of the field. .8 FRESHMAN IN TOP 10% .6 .4 .2 0.0 -.2 N= 50 78 62 37 1 2 3 4 TIER
  21. 21. US NEWS Rankings : Doctoral Universities The acceptance rate – or the percent of applicants admitted – is an inverse relationship. The lower the admit rate, or the ACCEPTANCE RATE greater the selectivity, the better the ranking. However, the 1.2 median admit rate is obviously similar across Tiers 2 1.0 through 4. The top Tier 1 doctoral universities have such demand that their median acceptance rate is lower than any .8 institution in any other tier. ACCEPTANCE RATE .6 DePaul’s admit rate, by contrast, while at the median for Tier 2, is higher than nearly all Tier 1 institutions. .4 .2 0.0 N= 51 78 65 54 1 2 3 4 TIER US NEWS Rankings : Doctoral Universities One of the measures purportedly related to the academic quality of the student experience is the percent of classes CLASSES UNDER 20 STUDENTS 1.2 that have 20 or fewer students enrolled. As this chart shows, there is not as much of a skew across the US News 1.0 tiers on this variable. .8 % CLASSES UNDER 20 On this measure, DePaul has a higher percentage of small .6 classes than 75% of Tier 2 or 3 schools and is at the median of Tier 1 institutions. .4 .2 0.0 N= 51 78 65 48 1 2 3 4 TIER US NEWS Rankings : Doctoral Universities Freshman-to-sophomore retention rates are enrollment ratios FRESHMAN RETENTION also related to academic reputation. Again, the relationship 1.1 between retention rates and the rankings is striking. Tier 1 1.0 institutions demonstrate a high and also highly compressed range of retention rates compared to the other tiers. FRESHMAN RETENTION .9 .8 On this measure, DePaul is the highest of the Tier 3 schools and at the median of Tier 2, but still lower than all Tier 1 .7 institutions. .6 .5 N= 51 78 64 55 1 2 3 4 TIER