Strategic Enrollment Management

Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) continues to evolve as a professional community of practice in higher education. One of the most important elements evolving is recognition by academic administrators, and leaders of the importance of SEM and the close and integrated place SEM has in Academic Management. Our services build upon a strong understanding of the academic realities surrounding curriculum, its design, development, and competitiveness in an ever more challenging global marketplace. Throughout the later half of the last century curriculum became less and less of a differentiator, less of a competitive advantage. Innovation was soon mimicked at least in marketing material, the belief that the first two years are the same so it doesn’t matter where you go became a common belief. The belief nudged undergraduate curriculum toward becoming a commodity. Student debt accumulated, retention and credential completion remained a significant challenge, but the basic reality that a college graduate earns more over their life span sustained a fundamental value belief–‘it must be worth it.’

SEM today is about proving value. Value is a function of the curriculum, the learning experience, program and learning outcomes. SEM professionals must be deeply academic, working synergistically with faculty and academic leaders. Faculty must ready, willing, and able to work with their SEM colleagues. There is a body of professionals in enrollment management that focus upon operations, the mechanics of marketing and communicating and processing, but these are not necessarily Strategic Enrollment Managers. The academic context is one of the most important strategic elements in Strategic Enrollment Management. All of our SEM services are aimed at optimizing the strategic academic context in the process of managing enrollments.

Strategic Enrollment Management Services

What is Strategic Enrollment Management?

It has been twenty plus years since AACRAO published my first primer on Strategic Enrollment Management. A lot has happened since and a lot has changed. The basic definition I articulated then still pertains at least as a jumping off point. The definition one might develop from that base or use today is a matter of perspective, market conditions, and institutional capacity.

The definition from my Primer circa 1993:

Strategic Enrollment Management is a comprehensive process designed
to achieve and maintain the optimum recruitment, retention, and attainment
of students where “optimum” is defined within the academic context of the institution

Enhanced as used in several institutional projects circa 2000:

Strategic Enrollment Management is a comprehensive process designed to achieve and maintain the optimum recruitment, retention, and attainment of students where “optimum” is defined within the academic context and results in the strategic position of the institution in the marketplace.

Enhanced as used in numerous Academic SEM, curriculum revitalization and new program development projects circa 2010:

Strategic Enrollment Management is a comprehensive process leading to strategies, capacities and operations designed to achieve and maintain the optimum alignment between an institution’s strategies, curriculum, policies and practices and the learning needs and requirements emanating from the global learning market sphere.

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