Planning for Enrollment Management, by Robert Massa

October 22, 2012

Because it spans a cross-section of complex university activities including student recruitment and retention, academic services, alumni relations, budgeting and physical plant, enrollment management requires thorough planning and a commitment from the highest levels of the university. The strategic enrollment management (SEM) handbook produced by the Educational Policy Institute provides useful guidelines for planning by dividing the process into six phases (see Executing a properly completed plan should result in a stable enrollment of students who are “right” for the institution and who, in the aggregate, provide the net revenue required to meet budgetary demands.

During the first phase, the contours of a plan are established. These contours help to guide the process towards a formal strategic plan for enrollment management. The second phase consists of molding the plan contours to fit the institution’s framework of core beliefs and value systems. Tactical moves, necessary to make the plan operational, begin in the next phase with an institutional self-assessment through a SWOT analysis. The fourth phase consists of developing a vision that combines the first two phases together and tempers it with the reality developed during the SWOT analysis.

Subsequent phases are concerned with developing operational details. Thus, the fifth phase crystallizes the vision developed during the earlier phases into a set of tasks, and the final phase consists of “operationalizing” those tasks by assigning them to various stakeholders and departments, and by designating budget targets for each task.

All plans must have appropriate benchmarks and assessment methods, and must be revised based on these assessments and the cost to achieve the desired goals. For more information on Strategic Enrollment Management, see

About the author:

Having worked in the field for four decades, Robert J. Massa is an expert on enrollment management practice and techniques.


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