The term Enrollment Management (EM) describes an integrated, school-wide process that consistently guides the annual recruitment, enrollment, and retention of mission-appropriate (best-match) students in sufficient quantity to ensure the current and future financial well-being of a school. Enrollment management is an institutional response to the challenges and opportunities that recruiting and retaining the right student body present to a school’s financial health, image, and student quality. It’s a research-based process that creates a synergy among recruitment, pricing and financial aid, academic affairs, student life, and constituent relations.
- Responsible for 80-90% of the school’s operating revenue
You cannot begin your journey unless you have students to serve. This is the number 1 issues facing boards, schools, and enrollment officers.
In an article titled “Reverse Musical Chairs” (featured in Net Assets - May/June 2013 edition), author Chad Tew wrote “They can’t come to school if they weren’t born.”
WICHE’s Knocking on the College Door provides state by state data. Given that the most new heads in the room are from California, I’ve presented one of the charts from that report. In the folder we’ve provided a copy of your state’s WICHE data. In this slide, you can see the issues as it relates to the affordability issues of California’s population. While the report is targeted at future college enrollment, information like the chart here about affordability is quite relevant to what we are dealing with in the independent school market.
2009-10 charter school enrollment = 1.78 million 24% increase in homeschooled students in 4 years 2011-12 online school enrollment = 275,000 full-time students
In the last decade, independent school admission offices have seen a precipitous decline in the number of inquiries, greatly and disproportionately narrowing the top of the admission funnel.
How can admission offices operate if they can’t rely on historical funnel metrics for guidance? Noel-Levitzm, authors of Noel-Levitz’ 2010 Admissions Funnel Report go so far as to say that the inquiry-to-applicant conversion rate is becoming a meaningless metric, advises colleges that “admission teams must adapt to the new ways that prospective and future students enter (or don’t enter) the admissions funnel, as well as evolving yield and admit rates.”
As noted in SSATB’s memberanda cover article last spring titled, “where have all the inquiries gone?” the admission funnel is changing. Inquiries for both boarding and day students have declined steadily. Although inquiries have declined steadily, other funnel metrics remain consistent for day schools.
This is no surprise to anyone. The domestic boarder – as reported in a recent TABS report – is harder and harder to find. Boarding schools are regional in nature and there are correspondingly fewer boarding schools in the west. 50% of all domestic boarders attend boarding school in their home state. Another 26% attend boarding school in an adjacent state.
Richard Honack says we live a world of a “nanosecond culture” where things change much faster than our ability to learn.
Where do we typically stop in ind schools? After the blue line? Well today’s consumers expect much more from us. SOMEONE has to be committed to a full engagement with them through their “lifetime”… many schools accomplish this by melding together admissions and development. I like this approach. Cradle to Grave, so to speak. SSAT score reporting is just one small piece of the stealth work that we now see families engaged in. NON LINEAR APPROACH… multiple touch points before action. On borrowed time.
SSATB survey of students taken in 2011 and again in 2014. Notice change in role of student vs. guardian. Just looking at this list, are you focusing on the right people? Would you rethink anything?
A barrier to entry is anything that causes a potential customer to “opt out.” In the case of the first two things on this list, we need a team approach with the board, head, and business officer to try to deal with rising tuition. The third item, however, is something that we can control.
In SSATB’s January 2014 student survey (478 respondents), 75% applied to 4 or more schools. They hoped to get acceptance letters from most of them. They preferred to use a common application. 59% used a common application; 41% did not. Why? It was not accepted at the school (38%) and/or thought they would have a better chance of acceptance by not using one (18%).
Utilizing resources on demographic, population shifts, birth rates, and more, the admission officer can help you and the board define a landscape of success around these challenges. US Census data by region and city is available..
Talking point: trend in higher ed focused on lowering tuition as a strategic enrollment strategy
Affordability plays into the picture. These numbers from SSS define the need levels based on income. With “low-need is the new full-pay” becoming more and more common, you, your admission director, and head need to know how this will play into student selection, tuition setting, revenue targets, etc.
Despite the standardized testing backlash, assessment is here to stay. Some even argue that what is needed is not fewer assessments – but more …. more frequent assessments that chart a students progress through a mission appropriate curriculum and provide quantitative evidence that the student has gained in both academics and character. This graphic represents the types/focus of assessments that schools will need to utilize to demonstrate results to prospective families.
SSATB has explored non-cognitive assessment with a specialized Think Tank. After 2 years of research, the Think Tank will report out to the SSATB board of directors with recommendations on how to look at the future of assessment as it relates to character elements like self-efficacy, teamwork, grit and more. Your folder contains a copy of this report. Of great interest in this report is how major employers like Facebook and recruiters are now assessing for these traits.
Too many times we see schools doing questionable things in their admission process – using achievement tests for admission purposes, photocopying old tests and using them over and over again, and misusing/misinterpreting test scores in their selection process.
Last year, SSATB conducted a State of the Independent School Admission Industry report. Some
Despite commonly having responsibilities in marketing and finance, less than half have had prior experience in these fields! Most DOAs come from classroom teaching and/or school administration. 71% of respondents have responsibilities in marketing – 43% have prior experience in marketing 57% of respondents have responsibilities in finance – 17% have prior experience in finance
There is no formal “degree” in admission, but there is room for professional development. USC has developed a certificate program for enrollment management. Mainly online, this program is lead by Dr. Jerry Lucido, and is breaking new ground in the way we can educate future enrollment professionals.
ARE YOU STAFFED APPROPRIATELY?
Many think admission is just the season of tours, interviews and applications and then the season is done. The State of the Industry report taught us that admission professionals have much more than admission duties. Second, retention is just as vital to sustainability as is enrollment.
NBOA’s “Welcome to the Jungle,” offers this resource to business officers. This calendar is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to admission and enrollment planning.
It’s more than just tours and applications. It’s marketing, PR, publications, metrics, segmented marketing like dealing with international students, addressing placement counselors, and feeder schools.
One of the best takeaways from the SSATB January 2014 student survey is that despite the dramatic way that technology has influenced admission work in the last few decades, it remains a relationship-based transaction. Today’s applicants want:
- More time with current students - More time with current teachers - More opportunities to visit classes
And, we know that competition is fierce – particularly with students/families choosing low cost / no cost options. Schools must have a “whole school admission perspective”. Those that don’t provide opportunities for students to visit classes, for example, are going to be in trouble.
Cited from NAIS Enrollment Management Handbook
SSATB INH TEST
CHARTING YOUR JOURNEY
THROUGH THE ENROLLMENT
Heather Hoerle, Executive Director
Secondary School Admission Test Board
Institute for New Heads, July 2014
UNDERSTAND THE CHANGED
A NEW REALITY: INQUIRES HAVE
• Demographic declines and shift
• Economic Decline = Affordability,
• Where have all the inquiries gone?
– Secret Shoppers/Stealth Applicants
• International enrollments on the rise
• Domestic boarders on the decline
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
RECRUITMENT MARKETING FINANCIAL RETENTION
% of students
moving from one
funnel stage to the
% increase in
Net tuition revenue
% of students that
re-enroll and % of
Number and % of
students for each
Market share - % of
in target market
Total financial aid
Average award (by
Total tuition paid by
Exit survey data
Head of School Scott
HAWKEN SCHOOL PRINCIPLES
1. We truly know our students...as learners and individuals.
2. We pay purposeful attention to the development of character, helping students
understand Hawken's motto of "fair play," and its founder's call to find their "better
3. We consider developing the intellect to be a critical part of developing character
and, as such, we expect the highest levels of academic excellence from our students.
4. We orient our program with a primacy toward the development of 21st century
skills beyond the acquisition of specific knowledge.
5. We use classroom methods that place the student at the center of learning. We
teach children to make choices, manage their time, think critically and creatively,
and develop ownership for their learning.
6. We believe students find energy and passion through engagement, and we expect
them to participate and contribute meaningfully in an array of activities outside of
7. We believe in the power of community, and foster connections through
teamwork, partnerships, and shared experiences.
8. We appreciate difference and individuality, and embrace diversity in our
9. We believe students need authentic experience in the real world to make meaning
from knowledge. We consider nature, Cleveland and the global community to be
extensions of our classrooms.
10. We believe that to provide the most relevant education possible, our faculty and
administrators must be learning continually about educational best practices,
advances in technology and developments in the world.
Nearly three-fourths of the parents feel they would be not at all
likely or not very likely to send their children to private school if
they did not receive financial aid (71%).
Source: NAIS Financial Aid Services Survey Analysis Report, June 2013
FINDING FULL PAY FAMILIES
Assumptions: Family of four, two parents, two children, one in a
tuition-charging school, parents age 45, both work, one earns $25K,
DC residents, no net worth, COLA = 1.000
Source: SSS By NAIS methodology for the 2013-14 academic year;
Tuition data from NAIS Facts-At-A-Glance, www.nais.org
“Merit Aid is Here to Stay.”
School Discussion Points
• 30% of institutional grant money is merit-based.
• 70% of institutional grant money is need-based.
• Merit is becoming more essential in meeting enrollment goals.
• Depending on market position, the number of families who are
eager/able to pay full freight is a diminishing pool of families.
• There is a problem with the needs analysis formula; one could argue
that no school is really “meeting need.”
• Haverford does not offer merit aid, but they are certainly stretching
the definition of meeting need.
• The real question is about the methods employed to manage
enrollment vis-à-vis an institution’s finite resources.
• Despite increased transparency in the process, they have never been
more busy working appeals to the aid process.
• Temple has become more generous with merit aid than in the past.
• Boards need to fully understand the implications of merit on a
THE PURPOSE OF A STANDARDIZED
• Measures broad academic skills necessary
for success in a college preparatory
• Provides a common performance measure
across disparate academic programs.
• Differentiates between and among
• Consistent long-term use of scores
enables schools to track admission data
HOW IS YOUR
ADMISSION OFFICE STAFFED?
• Admission Leader
• Associate Staff
• Office Managers, Administrative
• Temporary staff may be needed
during peak times
SUPPORT AN ADMISSION &
ENROLLMENT CYCLE THAT IS YEAR
ROUND AND CAMPUS WIDE
Wide Range of Responsibilities
Responsibility Day Boarding
Financial Aid 55% 65%
General Administration 55% 47%
Advising/Counseling 25% 45%
Admission Only 29% 31%
Coaching/Extracurricular 12% 19%
Teaching 10% 6%
Dormitory 0% 25%
NBOA’s Welcome to
the Jungle: A
Welcome to the
School Finance &
Welcome to the
School Finance &
48% - Wanted
to interact with
AND CROSS FERTILIZATION
What are the top issues facing schools in 2014 –
cited by NAIS Heads and Board Chairs?
ISSUES Heads Board Chairs
1) Managing enrollment/Keeping school affordable 68% 68%
2) Marketing/branding school 55% 48%
3) Recruiting/retaining /compensating talented faculty 52% 41%
4) Developing sound 5 year financial plan for school 47% 42%
5) Creating 21st C program and curriculum 43% 34%
6) Expanding parent and alumni support 40% 53%
7) Communicating with internal and external audiences 35% 25%
8) Renovating/enhancing school facilities 30% 35%
9) Increasing financial aid 29% 27%
10) Identifying effective sources of non-tuition revenue 25% 25%^
ADMISSION & THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
• Provides include important dashboard
enrollment metrics at every board meeting.
• Produces an annual report on the State of the
School’s Enrollment to help trustees understand
the school’s current enrollment
situation/competitive market status.
• Offers (in concert with the business officer)
forecast scenarios for trustees to support
discussion of a multi-year enrollment strategy.
ADMISSION & THE HEAD OF SCHOOL
• Are in regular communication (e.g. bi-weekly
meetings with metrics focused on school’s
• Admission assumes responsibility for managing
“the anxiety of admission” with prospective
ADMISSION & THE BUSINESS OFFICER
• Share in the tuition setting process and
benchmark data in developing a tuition strategy
• Establish common messaging for tuition billing
and ongoing communication with families.
• Establish customer service expectations in the
• Collaborate in financial aid budget and strategy
ADMISSION & THE DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
• Work together to share student/family
data and to review pockets of
• Establish a process for sharing prospective
and newly- enrolled potential donors
• Review and coordinate communication
calendars and ensure consistency of
ROLE OF ADMISSION
IN SETTING TUITION
The vast majority of
schools are tuition
driven, yet 87% of
Admission do not
play a role in tuition
ADMISSION’S ROLE IN SETTING
THE FINANCIAL AID BUDGET
WITH THE BOARD
66% of respondents are not seated
at the board table.
ADMISSION DIRECTORS IN HIGHER
• 65% report directly to the president
• 76% are members of the president’s cabinet
• 88% participate in board meetings*
YOU SET THE CULTURE
• Innovation in admission and
• Understanding and delivering your
• Knowing that the Admission Director is
a leader – leave the boardroom door
GOOD LUCK TO INH’s
CLASS OF 2014!
Member hotline: 609- 683-5558
www.ssat.org (student/parent website)
www.admission.org (school website)