Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix: Part 4

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This is the fourth post in the series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management.

The Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix is a powerful tool in the Academic Strategic Enrollment Management toolbox. The  Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix provides a comprehensive process framework for developing or evaluating strategies, capacities and operational initiatives. The fundamental purpose of Academic SEM is to achieve and maintain the optimum alignment between an institution’s strategies, curriculum, policies and practices and the learning needs and requirements of learners active in the global learning marketplace. The framework guides the planning process toward developing academic and enrollment strategies, tactics, goals and objectives.

The SEM Matrix is a tool developed by MGD+A to frame a structured dialog around the intersection of the seven dimensions of Strategic Enrollment Management with the seven learner-centered questions. The seven dimensions of Strategic Enrollment Management include strategy, the academic domain, recruitment, retention, operations, the policy domain, and finally the analytical foundations of all Strategic Enrollment Management efforts. Answers to the seven learner-centered questions can ensure that curriculum fulfills institutional and fiduciary missions. they include:

  1. the deep understanding of the populations to be served;
  2. knowledge of the objectives they seek;
  3. an evaluation of learning provider models available to them;
  4. a comprehensive integration of learning theory, methods and principles appropriate to successful learning;
  5. a strategic reconceptualization of the overall curriculum architecture providing a full scope of programs and approaches;
  6. a synthesis of specific curriculum configurations designed to meet specific learner’s needs; and finally
  7. the design, development and deployment of the array of services required by learners to meet their objectives.

The Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix is displayed in Figure 1. The green axis of the table is comprised of seven learner-centered questions juxtaposed against seven dimensions of Strategic Enrollment Management displayed along the blue axis.

Diagram-SEMMatrix

Figure 1: Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix

Using the Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix

The matrix can be used in a number of ways. It can be used in committee or group process to guide, frame and prompt discussion, harvest insight, mitigate uninformed opinion or cow-path thinking. In decision making it can be used to collect evidence, guide analysis, frame research, discover options, and refine strategies, goals and objectives. In the process of developing an institutional strategic plan, master academic plan or strategic enrollment management plan it can be used to frame the structure and frame the outline of the plan.

In Structured Dialog

The matrix provides a systematic method to frame questions, provide answers and understand analysis when used to help structure a dialog with constituents. For example, the cell labeled A1 can prompt a dialogic structure around the question of ‘what demographics do we seek and how does it fit with our overarching strategy?’ It can then frame more questions around strategy such as what are the relevant demographics – Cells A1, B1, C1. What learning objectives do learners seek? – Cell A2, or what do we provide in our curriculum? – Cell B2, or what yields in enrollment decision processes? – Cell C2. What means do we have for engaging demographic segments? – Cell E1, or do our policies align with that market segment? – Cell F1.

In determining impact and decision making

The focus can be very specific. For example, in reviewing a client graduate program of study MGD+A discerned that the assumed demographic was the characteristic local (line of sight) recruitment pool that was the default focus of the institution. Clarity was achieved using framed analysis of dimensions across Rows A, B, and C highlighting all seven learner-centered questions in each. The analysis revealed that the target demographic was non-profits and by default the presumed geographic reach was line of sight. Being presumed and never stated it shaped thinking and design and was not made clear for evaluation purposes. The program of study design took on such specific characteristics that it designed itself into such a small market segment that enrollment health and self-sufficiency could never be achieved. The Matrix was used to move the team from local, non-profit to global, online, with direct ties to multiple national and international communities of practice who were immediately assimilated into the strategy.

In plan development

The matrix provides the structured framework for developing plans especially a Strategic, Academic or Enrollment Management Plan. Developing a Strategic Enrollment Management Plan can begin with delineating the seven dimensions of Strategic Enrollment Management. For example, we began with Cell A1 with a client to reveal a geographic mix profile of 31% local/commuter, 47% non commuter in state, 19% from 17 of 49 states, and 3% international. Through dialog and analysis of Cell A.1 and Cell A.3 consensus was developed that the geographic profile of its student demographics was a weaknesses. As a result the SEM Plan began by developing one of its primary strategies—to change the geographic mix of through a sustained Academic SEM campaign. Focused planning was begun in the areas Cells B1,2,3,5,6,7 to identify specific program/service packages for development. A specific recruitment campaign was developed using Cells C1-7, targeting a cluster of 11 states and 3 international metropolitan areas for sustained recruitment over three consecutive annual cycles.

These are just a few examples of using the Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix. The Matrix directly supports and provides a method to stay laser focused on the fundamental Goals of a Strategic Enrollment Management initiative.

  1. Achieve and maintain the optimum strategic position of the institution in the marketplace.
  2. Assess and Inform the academic enterprises alignment with the global learning sphere. (Market demand and availability as-well-as competitive restraints such as regulations)
  3. Ensure economic health through sound management of enrollment profiles, yields, ratios and distributions.
  4. Achieve and maintain the optimum recruitment, retention, and attainment of students where “optimum” is defined within the academic context.

Origins of the Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix

The Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix is a modified Delphi type method and is based on the assumption that group judgments are more valid than individual judgments. The Delphi method was developed circa 1959 by Rand researchers Olaf Helmer, Norman Dalkey, and Nicholas Rescher. Delphi as a method morphed to a more advanced evolutionary form known as a Cross-Impact Analysis. The Cross-Impact Analysis was developed by Theodore Gordon and Olaf Helmer in 1966 and was designed to help determine how relationships between events would influence outcomes and reduce uncertainty in the future. James Morrison and William Renfo began to apply these techniques in the 1980’s to environmental scanning and futures work in higher education (see Futures Research and the Strategic Planning Process: Implications for Higher Education (J-B ASHE Higher Education Report Series (AEHE)). I began to use these methods shortly after attending a seminar with Jim Morrison to help develop group understanding of the complex dynamics involved in developing enrollment management strategies.

Programs of Study: Part 5

Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework: Part 3

Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework: Part 3

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This is the third post in the series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management.

What is the Learner Centered Curriculum Framework?

“There’s this idea that if we just tell the story better, we will get more students,” he says. That thinking, he argues, misunderstands enrollment management and the plight of small colleges in the postrecession economy. Creating a new branding campaign might seem easier than assessing whether academic programs are meeting students’ needs. But one isn’t a substitute for the other. “It’s not what we say on our website, or how many hands we shake, or how many applications we get,” Mr. Kieffer says. “No, it’s, What are we offering?” He sees enrollment as a two-part puzzle: getting prospective students to want what a college offers, and offering what they want. “A lot of schools right now are desperate,” he says, “focusing solely on getting people to want what they offer.” — Roger Kieffer former senior vice president for enrollment at Trinity International University, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 19, 2014, Vol LXI, Number 3, Page A-18

The Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework (LCCF) provides a conceptual structure to guide dialog and inquiry about curriculum. It frames curriculum in its broadest strategic context and provides a framework for the design, implementation, and evaluation of curriculum. When employing the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework, the complexities of translating mission, vision, and strategic position into effective curriculum are mapped across seven interlocking constructs:

  1. Learner Populations;
  2. Learner Objectives;
  3. Learning Provider Models;
  4. Learning Theory and Methods;
  5. Curriculum Architecture;
  6. Curriculum Configurations; and
  7. Learner Support Services

These constructs are, in turn, decoded or operationalized through seven learner-centered questions. When asked and answered, the questions are ideal for building, improving, and sustaining design integrity across curricular elements and guiding a wide array of institutional internal and external alignments.

The Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework is a tool that helps frame strategic dialog and analysis around the principles and practices of the concept learner-centered academic environments. This article describes the seven learner-centered questions that emanate from the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework and  help frame a basic enrollment management perspective useful for strategic enrollment management professionals when they dialog with academics. The table below can be printed and guide deeper insight into the options revealed through each question.  The elements under the questions are not to be used as a check list but rather a list of prompts and possibilities. We invite constructive comments and suggestions as-well-as any case examples of its use.

Seven Learner-Centered Questions

Diagram-LLCF

Learner Populations

A deep understanding of the populations to be served is required for effective curriculum design and delivery. For this reason, the very first question to be addressed is: Who are the learners? The answer flows from and can inform an entity’s strategic decisions regarding mission, vision, and strategic position (see Developing Institutional Strategy). Several questions cascade to give deep meaning to this basic question. Who are the learners of the 21st century? What learner populations does the institution currently serve? Who could or should the institution be serving? And, so on. Understanding who the learners are is an essential and often overlooked component of shaping curriculum for a changing society. The foundation of a learner-centered approach is to fully understand learning demand as segmented by salient learner population characteristics. Once understood, academic planners can identify gaps between the learner populations present in society, those the institution desires to serve, and those it currently serves. A learner-centered approach, guided by the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework, is most fruitful when supported by open inquiry and discourse regarding the learner populations found within an institution’s target market areas and those within the global learning marketplace.

Learner Objectives

A related set of questions emanates from the second learner-centered question within the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework: What objectives do the learners seek? Related questions include: What do the learners of the 21st century seek? What are their learning and credential objectives? How do objectives change in the course of a person’s life? Learners seek a vast array of learning objectives and these objectives vary over time and the course of one’s life (see 5 Bold Predictions For The Future Of Higher Education). Knowledge of learner objectives is a prerequisite for understanding motivation and, therefore, should guide the sequencing of learning experiences as well as inform marketing, recruitment, and retention efforts. Learner objectives should be a fundamental design element for the overall structure and intent of a curriculum and, therefore, incorporated early in program and curriculum design and review processes.

Learning Provider Models

A third area of inquiry flows from asking: What learning provider models are available to the learners? Corollary questions include: What options are open to 21st century learners as they seek their objectives? What curricular models, business models, and assessment models are in play? What choices do various learner populations make and why? What evidence exists on the effectiveness of the various provider models? The digital knowledge age is an age in which learning opportunities can be made available to learners anytime, anywhere. As a result, a complex network of learning resources and provider models is emerging to meet the demand for learning across multiple venues. Models range from traditional collegiate models to open-term models, online, and a host of other variations. Faculty, academic leaders, strategic planners, and curriculum designers are well advised to fully explore, describe, and understand various provider models in order to adequately assess the emerging learning landscape. Such an assessment builds understanding of emerging best practice as well as deep understanding of the competitive enrollment context of higher education. Furthermore, examining provider models and the learner populations for whom they have value builds deep insight into the learner-centered approach. Strategic curricular decisions will emerge from a synthesis of an institution’s knowledge of the populations, objectives, and models present in today’s global learning space.

Learning Theories and Methods

The fourth set of questions revolves around the learning process. Indeed, the learning process is extremely important in learner-centered curriculum design. The most effective designs reflect a comprehensive integration of learning theory and methods appropriate to successful learning. Therefore, the fourth learner-centered question within the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework is: What learning theories and methods are appropriate for specific learners and the objectives they seek? What learning methods help inform us of the appropriate curricular approach to take with specific learner populations? How do we focus the curriculum on the individual learner? The American Psychological Association developed a 14 point learner-centered framework that provides an effective baseline for discussion and design. There are more than 50 major learning theories, each focused on a different aspect of learning or learner population. Synthesizing effective curriculum requires the matching of theory and practice to learner population characteristics and objectives. The point, in short, is to systematically build curriculum to incorporate effective learning methods.

Learner-Centered Curriculum Architecture

The fifth area of inquiry emanating from the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework results from a complex, yet straightforward question: What is the existing curriculum architecture of the institution or educational entity? Does the architecture provide an alignment between the learner, the curriculum, and society? Curriculum Architecture refers to the design, structure, and relationships within and across an institution’s published curricular offerings. A curriculum’s architecture is foundationally defined by the formal programs of study authorized by a governing body that directly controls the rules of curriculum design and delivery. Thus, the architecture formalizes the curricular attributes an institution is committed to support and develop. It establishes alignment points with specific segments of the learner markets prescribed within an institution’s mission. Ideally, curriculum is both learner and learning centered. The curriculum architecture can also be used to synthesize an institution’s comprehensive academic master plan. The architecture of a curriculum describes the style, method of design, basic construction, key components, and underlying philosophies used to build the modules, courses, and programs that make up the entire diverse curricula.

Learner-Centered Curriculum Configuration

The sixth area of inquiry and discourse keenly focuses on meeting the specific and particular learning needs of the learners an institution has selected or been charged to serve. The sixth learner-centered question is: What specific curriculum can be configured to meet the learning needs of the learner population(s) an institution has chosen or been charged to serve? Will the configurations achieve intended outcomes? How will that be assessed? A particular curriculum configuration is drawn from an institution’s available (current or planned) architectural options. The configuration constructs a specific curriculum from all the elements of the architecture for a specific population seeking specific objectives using specific teaching, learning, and assessment methods. Across an institution, a wide variety of curriculum configurations are deployed.

Learner-Centered Support Services

The seventh area of inquiry within the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework addresses the design and delivery of the array of services required by learners to meet their objectives. What support services are necessary to enable specific learner population(s) to successfully complete the curriculum and meet their objectives? Services are as important within a learner-centered curriculum as is the design and configuration of learning experiences. The curriculum alone is insufficient to deliver effective and efficient learning. Advising, counseling, and assessment are among the most important processes to be integrated into curriculum design. Too often they are add-ons. Other services are required to be sure learners are available to access the curriculum and learn. For example, assessment and placement, advising, counseling, financial aid, and a host of other services are extremely important to the process of creating learner success. As each learner population is understood, services must be fused to curriculum design so that pathways can be efficiently navigated and successfully completed.

Alternate Names

You may find the concepts outlines here referred to differently, some common alternate names are:

  • Subject Centered
  • Student Centered

SEM Matrix: Part 4

Curriculum Architecture: Part 2

Curriculum Architecture: Part 2

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Series

This is the second post in the series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management.

An institution’s curriculum architecture defines the essential components of its curricular system; maps the interrelationships between the components and the environment, and specifies the system’s intended learning and award outcomes. Put simply, the curriculum architecture synthesizes the many institution-specific design and delivery decisions inherent in curriculum management.

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Principle 3: Strategic Curriculum Architecture

The objective of the concept of strategic architecture is to align curriculum with the realities of the emerging global learning marketplace. It must have a deep digital footprints and strong social connectivity to ensure that it drives the academic portfolios strategic position in the learning marketplace. A full articulation and discussion of strategic curriculum architecture is beyond the scope of a blog post. We will focus in this post on establishing a foundation understanding of what the architecture is and how it underpins enrollment management.

A curriculum architecture is defined by four underlying domains:

  1. Programs of Study
    The taxonomy of degrees, certificates, sequences, courses, modules, and learning objects within a school’s curriculum inventory defines the primary design feature of the school. This domain anchors the architecture, shifts attention to outcomes and program-based design elements, and, thereby, facilitates the alignment of the academic master planning process with other institutional processes.
  2. Authentications
    This domain details accrediting, licensing, and assessment oversight organizations, the units warranted, and related specifications. In doing so, the architecture incorporates the School’s accreditation and outcomes assessment planning processes.
  3. Delivery and Learner Access Strategies
    This domain tracks program term parameters, schedule model parameters, delivery modes, facilities implications and other delivery specifications.
  4. Business Model Variables
    This domain specifies the human resource specifications, instructional and non-instructional funding, and other resource specifications required to deliver the curriculum.

The fundamentals of allocating a series of learning experiences by building and delivering the curriculum is achieved through the structure of the curriculums architecture. An institution’s curriculum architecture defines the essential components of its curricular system; maps the interrelationships between the components and the environment, and specifies the system’s intended learning and award outcomes. Put simply, the curriculum architecture synthesizes the many institution-specific design and delivery decisions inherent in curriculum management. The architecture defines the curriculum system used by the institution.

A Systems View

Any curriculum system facilitates learning content being conceptualized, designed, assessed, packaged, managed and delivered to the learner. All curricular systems have certain characteristics. For example:

  1. All curricula reside within an institutional or organizational context defined by the mission of the organization in which it resides, the stakeholders who shape that mission, and their vision of where the institution is going and how it is to evolve.
  2. All curricula result in outcomes, in other words, they have a tangible and often intangible impact upon those that engage it. The outcomes may be expected or unexpected; they may be intended or unintended; they may be measurable or difficult to ascertain.
  3. All curricula reside within an economic reality that defines opportunities and constraints. It may be a stable, adequate, inadequate, growing, shrinking, or in a state of flux. The economic realities shape a great deal of what the curriculum is and how it is delivered.
  4. All curricula have an architecture either both well-defined and articulated or defacto having evolved over time. By architecture, we mean that all curricula have a defined structure that fits many parts together. Each identified part exists within the defined structure of the system and plays a specific role in the overall function of the system.
  5. The sum of these characteristics helps define a curriculum’s system architecture.

Defining a Curriculums Architecture

A curriculum architecture has an inherent structure. The first task is to identify and describe common structural elements that contribute to or make up a curriculums architecture.

Curriculum Architecture

Mission

Includes the influence of various institutional, school, college department, and discipline missions on the structure and content of the curriculum. These provide the context of the fundamental purpose of the institution. Mission (and vision for that matter) is translated into curriculum by focusing upon seven interrelated questions.

  1. What is the demographics of the learners an institution seeks to serve?
  2. What objectives do those learners seek to achieve?
  3. What learning opportunities are available from the global learning environment?
  4. What teaching and learning methods are available to help specific learners, seeking specific objectives, within a competitive learning marketplace achieve their intended learning outcomes.
  5. What is the overall curriculum architecture of the institution being evaluated?
  6. What is the configuration of a specific curriculum being selected?
  7. What learner services are necessary to enable the learner to complete the selected curriculum successfully?

These seven structured questions provide a framework for helping to translate an institutions mission into curriculum. And conversely they provide a framework with which to evaluate institutional mission through the curriculum lens. They are also a very effective framework to form Strategic enrollment Management Strategies.

Vision Influence

The influence of various institutional, school, college, department, discipline visions on the structure and content of the curriculum. From an entities (school, college, department, discipline) vision emerges its trajectory (where it is plotting to go) in the near, mid, and long term future. The curriculums architecture must enable sustaining a trajectory.

Academic Philosophy

The influence of various academic philosophies such as liberal arts licensed professional, scholar/practitioner, and accreditation aligned, on the structure and content of the curriculum. A philosophy provides the root of the values structure held by the academic community. Multiple philosophies are common in an institution. Discretely identifying and defining them helps enormously in developing and implementing conflict resolution strategies.

Scope

The scope of the curriculum establishes the various levels, credential categories, discipline array, credit and non-credit mix, and such intellectual elements as the role of research. Attention to scope is important because the opportunistic nature of the curriculum often induces scope creep (the slow expansion of the scope without questioning ‘do we really want to go there’). A curriculums scope provides both focus and boundaries that are important as other non-academic entities align with the academic enterprise. Online is an excellent example of an initiative emanating from deployment strategies that can seriously induce scope creep.

Academic Organizational Design

Organizational design includes but means more than just the academic organizations structure. The design also includes the functional components of the curriculum itself such as the hierarchy of the curriculum as reflected in the relationships between University ↔ College ↔ Department ↔ Program ↔ Course ↔ Module ↔ Reusable Learning Object. Such academic structures require a deep look for how they align and support the overall curriculums architecture. Failure to identify and formally define the basic elements of the academic organization leads to deep and damaging confusion to how effectively the curriculum functions.

Programs of Study

The architecture is shaped by the influence of specific content, curricular sequences, program and course outcomes and learning objectives on the design and configuration of individual programs. The program of study provides a crisp learner-centered view of the learning pathways taken to achieve specific credentials and outcomes. A common method of developing, displaying and reviewing programs of study is helpful in conveying the specific management criteria for the curriculum as a whole.

Teaching and Learning Methods and Strategies

The influence of various teaching and learning methods and strategies on the structure and content of the curriculum cannot be over emphasized. As curriculum is designed, developed, and implemented they are either enabled or inhibited by the curriculums architecture. Formally considering their influence is imperative as we look to the future.

Accreditations, Authentications, and Assessment Strategies

The influence that various accreditation standards, licensing requirements, assessment requirements, federal and state curricular regulations has on the structure and content of the curriculum must be accommodated in the architecture.

Configuration and Deployment Strategies

The influence of various deployment strategies such as the face-to-face, online, satellite facility, laptop university, (host of others) on the structure and content of the curriculum is important. Basic structures like scheduling model, academic calendar configurations, pricing and packaging strategies are essential to establishing a curriculum architecture that meets the needs of the learners to be served.

Business Models Strategies

The influence of the various ways curricula is packaged, marketed, delivered and consumed on the structure and content of the curriculum must be considered in the design of the overall structure. The business interface is as important as the learning interface in the overall design. Strategies such as pricing, content access and control, assessment integrity, learner transcripts, and a host of others must be aligned and accommodated within the business models used.

In Closing

We have mapped within this post the basics of what curriculum architecture includes. Before developing or applying any tools or methods it is important to frame the entire concept of Academic Strategic Enrollment Management. Next we will explore some of the concepts around Learner-Centered approaches to curriculum.

Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework: Part 3

“Its the Curriculum Stupid”: Part 1

International Students in Contemporary Context Insight from the U.K.

UK ImmigrationThe British public do not see international students as “immigrants” and are opposed to reducing the number coming here, even if this would make it harder to reduce immigration numbers, according to new research released today by Universities UK and think-tank British Future.

The government should instead remove international students from the net migration target and support and challenge universities to attract more international students to study here, the report argues.

The new research poses a challenge to the government as it seeks to keep its promise to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands”.  International students are the largest group of migrants from outside the EU counted in the government’s net migration figures, representing around a third of all people coming into Britain.

Yet only a fifth (22%) of people think of international students as “immigrants” at all.

Other findings include:

  • When people are told that students are part of the target, “the most common reaction is surprise and even bafflement that international students are classified as immigrants at all,” the report says.
  • New ICM polling conducted for the organisations finds that targeting international students would be unpopular and would fail to address public concerns about immigration. Six out of ten (59%) people say the government should not reduce the number of international students, even if this makes it harder to reduce immigration numbers. Only 22 per cent would support a reduction in international student numbers.
  • Among Conservative voters, the figure was even higher, with two-thirds (66%) of Tories opposed to a reduction in international student numbers, compared to just 23 per cent who would reduce international student numbers so as to get immigration numbers down.
  • The majority of people (75%) are in favour of allowing international students to stay on and work after they finish their degree. Support rises to 81% for Conservative voters.
  • Sixty per cent think international students bring money into the local economy, compared to only 12 per cent who think they are a net drain on the local economy.  Support rises to two-thirds (66%) of people living in university towns and nearly three quarters (72%) of Conservative voters.
  • Sixty-one per cent agree that Britain’s universities would have less funding to invest in top-quality facilities and teaching without the higher fees paid by international students. Only seven per cent disagree.

Download the study here.

“It’s the Curriculum Stupid”: Part 1

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This is the first post in the series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management.

One of the great quotes in contemporary American politics:

“It’s the Economy Stupid”
– James Carville (circa 1992 serving as chief campaign strategist) during the first Clinton campaign for President.

I often think back to that campaign and the impact those few words had on the outcome of the election. It brings to mind a nagging malaise among a number of client institutions who wish to energize their recruitment and retention success. An initial strategic enrollment management engagement often centers around any number of descriptive observations by client constituents: not enough students, too many students, too many here not enough there, students not the academic quality we want, the list continues with various emphasis and causal inference. Inevitably someone blames the economy, the web site, the enrollment management system, or admissions, or the president, or marketing. While any and all of these may be contributing to a problem the real heart of any educational, organizational success is the curriculum.

Before a hailstorm of negative reactions explodes in social media from anyone believing I am faculty bashing here, nothing can be further from the truth. I am well aware of hypersensitivity over control of curriculum by academic communities. I am painfully aware that nonacademics walk on eggs around the issue of the curriculum. An academic culture that lacks open, constructive dialog is not healthy for enrollment, or the curriculum or the institution’s future. I have conducted postmortems on more than 100 institutions who either closed or were forced into a merger because they drove themselves to financial inviability. Volatility and obstinacy were common characteristics among campus constituents found within the documents, and written interchanges reviewed in the postmortems. By the way, another common characteristic among the closed/merged postmortems was the board of trustees failing their fiduciary responsibility, is examined in a future series.

Academic Foundations of Strategic Enrollment Management

So where do we begin discussing the foundations of Academic Strategic Enrollment Management? Carvilleian logic guides us to “It’s the Curriculum Stupid,” and we would respond appropriately and say well of course it is, at least in an ideal world. We might follow with the question, “But what is it about the curriculum and the academic enterprise that frames the principles and practices of Strategic Enrollment Management?”

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Principle 1: Primacy

Curriculum drives enrollment, enrollment drives revenue, revenues drive everything else.
– Michael G. Dolence

The curriculum drives enrollment, enrollment drives revenue, revenue drives everything else.

This statement, I have used for years, perfectly defines the reality of the relationship between the academic and enrollment management functions facing institutions today. Why does enrollment exist at all, because learners seek credentials via curriculum. That said, the implications are very serious for both the academic community and the enrollment management community. Let’s examine some of those implications.

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Principle 2: Alignment

Curriculum must achieve a critical level of alignment with enrollment markets in order to secure a healthy recruitment and retention yield. Enrollments are driven by forces inherent in the learning marketplace. The forces such as affordability, real and perceived value, convenience, performance, placement after graduation, and academic reputation have significant influence in the pre-search phase of college search. The very dramatic paradigm shift to a global digital learning environment (covered in a parallel blog series “Prototype Strategic Plan”) portends disruptive future changes in the global learning marketplace.

There are deep academic issues that can be addressed immediately to strengthen enrollment management success. The following illustrative issues:

Commoditization of the Undergraduate Program

Over the past four decades there has been a perception developing among families looking for higher education opportunities for their children driven by marketing strategies used across higher education. Contributing vernacular includes statements like:
“Doesn’t matter where you get your undergraduate degree it is the graduate credential that matters”
“First two years are the same everywhere so pick the cheapest and save your dollars for a top notch (expensive) school to finish your undergraduate education.”
“Go where you get the biggest discount, best deal, most money…” there are hundred ways this is perpetuated.
I won’t belabor the point here but as these messages reverberate around families, advisers, and influencers they become ‘common knowledge’ even when untrue and that hurts the value equation of all of higher education.

A move from commoditization to differentiation strengthens the academic strategic enrollment management position.

Curriculum Cloning and À La Carte Menu Program Development

Academic management practices in higher education have fostered a practice of curriculum as a kit of parts. Find a trending program name, examine the course titles, select a similar set from your master course list, check them against academic policy, and launch. Such an approach is not prototyping a curriculum but rather cloning. It rapidly floods the market with seemingly equal curriculum diluting the market share and driving the quality of all to the level of a commodity.

Using outcomes, skills, and value based design to frame curriculum rather than selecting from a list of existing courses then writing marketing messages to link the course to the value equation strengthens the academic enrollment portfolio.

The Business of Higher Education versus Higher Education as a Business

Even though higher education is not a business in the classic sense the business of higher education has never been more important. Academic leaders and enrollment managers must deeply understand the principles of financially sustainable curriculum and enrollment management.

The Value Equation

It is paradoxical that we use individuals earning potential with a college degree to place value and therefore a claim on the investments made by the public and learners and then vilify the call to articulate the linkage between programs and economic opportunity for graduates. It makes no sense to policy makers, learners and their families or for the most part most professionals in higher education. We must make it clear that the liberal arts are also the earning arts playing an integral part in the development of a lifetime employability strategy.

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management opens a new pathway to institutional and curricular revitalization. It requires a new level of interaction, analysis, and openness. It requires a willingness to systematically examine, recalibrate and refine the foundations of curriculum and enrollment management and set them on a strategic course to the future. The very important lesson learned from examining the experience of closed and merged institutions is:

“The learning marketplace is a harsh teacher.”

Curriculum Architecture: Part 2

Academic SEM Series

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Series

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Series Introduction

About the Series

The Series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management begins with establishing the curriculum as the primary reason for enrollment then builds an understanding of Curriculum Architecture and how it determines an institution’s strategic position in the global learning marketplace. From exploring curriculum architecture, the blog moves to a Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework. Next we will discuss the emergence of digital learning and service environments required introducing a full spectrum of the agents of change transforming the learning landscape. Then tackle key concepts in Strategic Enrollment Management. These concepts will include defining terms, introducing a basic Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix and then delve into the concept of vectors in developing a unifying market view that integrates with the institutions curriculum architecture. I plan to complete the series with some examples of academic strategic enrollment management strategies and case studies.

Posts in this series:

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Series - About the Series The Series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management begins with establishing the curriculum as the primary reason for enrollment then builds an understanding of Curriculum Architecture and how it determines an institution’s strategic position in the global learning marketplace. From exploring curriculum architecture, the blog moves to a Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework. Next we … Continue reading Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Series
The curriculum drives enrollment, enrollment drives revenue, revenue drives everything else. “It’s the Curriculum Stupid”: Part 1 - This is the first post in the series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management. One of the great quotes in contemporary American politics: “It’s the Economy Stupid” – James Carville (circa 1992 serving as chief campaign strategist) during the first Clinton campaign for President. I often think back to that campaign and the impact those few … Continue reading “It’s the Curriculum Stupid”: Part 1
Curriculum Architecture Schematic Curriculum Architecture: Part 2 - An institution’s curriculum architecture defines the essential components of its curricular system; maps the interrelationships between the components and the environment, and specifies the system’s intended learning and award outcomes.
Diagram of the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework: Part 3 - This is the third post in the series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management. What is the Learner Centered Curriculum Framework? “There’s this idea that if we just tell the story better, we will get more students,” he says. That thinking, he argues, misunderstands enrollment management and the plight of small colleges in the postrecession economy. … Continue reading Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework: Part 3
SEM Matrix Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix: Part 4 - This is the fourth post in the series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management. The Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix is a powerful tool in the Academic Strategic Enrollment Management toolbox. The  Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix provides a comprehensive process framework for developing or evaluating strategies, capacities and operational initiatives. The fundamental purpose of Academic SEM is to achieve and maintain … Continue reading Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix: Part 4
Programs of Study: Part 5 - The Program of Study is the primary way by which students enroll and revenues flow to the institution. It is also a primary determinant of the costs to operate the curriculum.
Proficiency Based Curriculum Model: Part 6 - One of the most profound developments in Academic SEM is the emergence of a Proficiency-Based Curriculum Architecture Model (PBCAM). Its development and continued evolution are the results of a synthesis by a number of scholars, communities of practice and higher education associations.
Strategic Position Diagram Achieving Strategic Position in the Global Learning Marketplace: Part 7 - This is the seventh post in the series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management. No one can achieve and sustain long-term enrollment and fiscal health with mandates or short-term, reactive, quick fix initiatives. Strategic Position Strategic Position is defined as the sum of the competitive characteristics an institution or program possesses when compared to other institutions … Continue reading Achieving Strategic Position in the Global Learning Marketplace: Part 7
Academic/SEM Cycles Framed Enrollment ‘Crisis’ Management: Managing Academic and SEM Cycles & Workflows : Part 8 - We all know timing is everything. Some of the first strategic elements an enrollment crisis disrupts are the Academic and SEM Cycles & Workflows. In fact, it is one the biggest challenges an institution faces in an enrollment crisis, to stay focused on performing SEM cyclical activities and developing strategies. Suddenly, a shortfall in enrollments … Continue reading Enrollment ‘Crisis’ Management: Managing Academic and SEM Cycles & Workflows : Part 8
Academic SEM Strategy: The iMBA at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Business - The UIUC iMBA is expected to launch in 2016, and be priced at $20,000 or so. The digital curriculum architecture is designed to serve learners in a MBA degree program of study, as well as, individuals seeking advanced practice standing in seven contemporary business communities of practice. [Coursera iMBA page] Using a strategy of interweaving Coursera MOOC courses … Continue reading Academic SEM Strategy: The iMBA at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Business

Strategic Enrollment Management

SEM Primer 300ppiStrategic Enrollment Management (SEM) is an important part of Michael G. Dolence and Associates strategic capability. Emerging 21st Century best practices integrate the curriculum into the SEM process. Our unique seven component learner-centered curriculum model provides a new strategic foundation for developing enrollment. The model provides a framework for optimizing enrollment quality and quantity. It also integrates seamlessly into accreditation self-study, and strategic planning. We provide a comprehensive range of services including conducting enrollment management audits, developing recruitment and retention campaigns and programs, developing integrated Internet/Print/Action campaigns for recruitment, conducting marketing research, developing enrollment management strategic plans, developing advertising campaigns and a wide range of other enrollment management related functions. We have associates with a wide variety of expertise and specific functional experience at every level and for every type of institution.