Scannell & Kurz Enrollment Management Blog

While Scannell & Kurz continues to provide the expert consulting and high level of service by which we define ourselves, as a division of Ruffalo Noel Levitz we also offer the benefits of our collaboration with a larger team of talented consultants.

Part of that collaboration involves our enrollment blog. Each week on this site, we have posted relevant research, insights, and recommendations to help you make the most of your strategies. We will now post to the Ruffalo Noel Levitz blog along with a good number of our colleagues—increasing the frequency and diversity of posts you’ll find on all manner of topics.

The Ruffalo Noel Levitz blog covers the key topics we have addressed: enrollment management, student retention, student recruitment, financial aid, and marketing. We are looking forward to not only continuing to share our insights with you, but to connect you with the additional strategies and recommendations of our new colleagues.

There’s also an option to subscribe for synopses of recent blog posts. You will continue to find, and be able to search, our archived blog posts here on this site.

We invite you to explore this resource—and to let us know if you’re looking for specific advice.


Preparing for the Redesigned SAT - Monday Musings
The College Board’s revision of the SAT will launch in the spring of 2016 with most of the impact being felt by students in the entering class of 2017. Similar to the current version, the redesigned SAT will be offered in print everywhere and by computer in selected locations. The redesigned test has three sections: Evidenced-based reading and writing (200-800 points) Math (200-800 points) Essay (separate scores) According to the College Board website, the redesigned SAT and PSATs will all be scored on the same scale. Eight key changes are discussed on the College Board website. Enrollment managers need to consider how the redesign of the SAT may impact their business systems and processes. Below are a few examples of systems and…Read more

Training As a Perishable Good - Monday Musings
“Training is a perishable good.” I heard that phrase the other day and it resonated with respect to training admissions recruiters. Jim Scannell would probably say that training and professional development for recruiters is a race without a finish line. Training is perishable, in part, because of the turnover that takes place in many admissions offices. Admissions and enrollment leadership must be in a constant state of refreshing and updating, even to the point of redundancy. In other cases, information takes longer to sink in with certain people. Take for example, the meetings many admissions offices often hold over the summer to get updates from academic deans and department heads. This is helpful; however, it can also be like the proverbial…Read more

2015 New Year’s Resolutions for Enrollment Managers - Monday Musings
Here are this year’s resolutions. Include these in your priorities for the coming calendar year. Avoid “knee jerk” reactions to the competitor’s strategy de jour. Don’t make decisions on intuition alone. Experience and expertise can help inform decision making, but all plans, programs, and strategies should be the result of comprehensive data-driven analysis. Be a good communicator, with the senior team and trustees; with your leadership team in enrollment; and throughout your organization. Given the volatile and competitive nature of enrollment management today, one of your absolute, critical responsibilities is to ensure there are no enrollment surprises – good or bad. Clear, timely communication is key. Invest your time and…Read more

Happy Holidays from Your Friends at Scannell & Kurz! - Monday Musings
  Everyone at Scannell & Kurz wishes you a safe and happy New Year!   Image © Denise Torres | Created with Canva.Read more

Characteristics of Effective Leaders - Monday Musings
As I move away from S&K (at least in a full time capacity), I find myself reflecting on the many leaders I have met during my 20 years as a consultant. A list of the attributes that I believe the most successful leaders have had in common can be found below. They listen. While ultimately leaders need to be comfortable making their own decisions, the best leaders inform themselves first by listening to their staff members as well as to the data that are available. They do the hard work of researching, rather than just assuming that their instincts are good. They have a bias toward action. Although good leaders take time to gather information to ensure good decisions, they avoid “paralysis by analysis.” They are able to move quickly enough…Read more

Defining the Tuition Discount Rate - Monday Musings
Here at S&K, when asked by clients how we calculate the tuition discount rate, we have for many years said we view the NACUBO calculation – defined as institutional grant dollars as a share of gross tuition and fee revenue – as the industry standard (see, for example, publications on the NACUBO website here and here.) However, a client recently pointed out an exception noted at the bottom of a NACUBO report published in 2012, saying “[Total grant aid] does not include grant dollars that cover room and board or books.” (See the last paragraph of Study Essentials at the end of this report.) NACUBO has said they make this exception to allow them to maintain comparable discount rates among different types of institutions. Unfortunately,…Read more

Right-Sizing Your Institution - Monday Musings
‘Right-sizing’ is a term that has long been in use in business, but in recent years has moved into common usage in higher education. Though sometimes used as a euphemism for ‘downsizing,’ it more rightly refers to an effort to optimize enrollment with existing human resources, programs and facilities – namely, fixed costs. There are a host of factors that should go into this analysis, where an institution is essentially attempting to match demand with the school’s capacity to meet that demand. The list that follows begins with several internal factors to consider – most of which the institution has some ability to control – and then continues with external factors, over which the institution has limited or no control. [Note:…Read more

The Lost Art of Mentoring - Monday Musings
As I look back at some of the most important relationships in my life, I remember a high school football coach who became a lifelong friend; a counselor in college who saw a freshman in need of direction and guidance after losing his father; an eccentric professor who saw some leadership and organizational potential; and even a supervisor who later became a formidable business competitor. All of these people played important roles mentoring me personally as well as professionally. The value and impact of their mentoring can’t be measured and I am forever grateful for it. In return, mentoring young men and women, either as a coach, an admissions professional, a legal guardian, a father, a supervisor, and now a grandfather has been a lifetime…Read more

Recruiting With Noble Purpose - Monday Musings
Most Saturday mornings I spend a little time at my favorite local coffee shop reading the newspaper. Yes, I am one of those people who still likes to get her hands dirty with newsprint while consuming my morning news. Over time I’ve come to look forward to reading the weekly syndicated column (old-fashioned version of a blog, I suppose) written by Lisa Earle McLeod, a sales leadership consultant who has done sales training and coaching for many companies whose names will be familiar to you. Her columns about purpose-driven sales resonated with me because I could see the parallel to admissions recruiting – a field where some consider sales a four-letter word and some recruiters themselves scoff at the notion that they are salespersons. I…Read more

The Vulnerability of Management - Monday Musings
The Kansas City Royals have made a remarkable run in the postseason. They’ve gone undefeated through the wildcard game, the American League Division Series and the American League Championship Series, and the World Series stood tied 2-2 after game four on Saturday night. Ned Yost, the Royals manager, is an oddity in modern sports. He was the manager of the Milwaukee Braves from 2003 to 2008 and has been with Kansas City since the 2010 season. His teams have never finished in 1st place. He has never finished higher than 5th in voting for manager of the year either in the National or American League. Yet, here the Royals sit – through persistence and with diligence to follow the plan and the vision – in the World Series as the American League…Read more

Maximizing the Benefit of Working with Consultants - Monday Musings
Although, as enrollment management consultants, we work hard to serve all of our clients well, we do find that some clients end up getting more out of our collaborations than others. We’ve spent some time thinking about our most successful partnerships with clients, and wanted to share some advice on the attributes we think have contributed significantly to ensuring a successful consultation: Clearly communicate your goals for the project as part of the process of selecting a consulting partner to be sure you are all on the same page. We always request an intake phone call before drafting a proposal for this very reason. We want to be sure the services we are proposing will meet the client’s needs. In cases where we think another firm…Read more

Tuition Remission and the Discount Rate - Monday Musings
As many of you know, the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) calculates discount rates by taking all institutional aid including athletic aid (whether from unfunded sources, endowment, or annual gifts) and dividing by tuition and mandatory fee revenues. However, tuition remission for the dependents of faculty and staff is NOT included as institutional aid because NACUBO considers such funds to be an employee benefit and therefore a human resource cost. While we agree that treatment of tuition remission makes sense, it can produce some strange results, particularly at small institutions. Taken to its extreme, if the entire freshman class at an institution was comprised of faculty/staff dependents receiving…Read more

Is a makeover needed for liberal arts colleges? - Monday Musings
A recent Wall Street Journal article reported on the “muscular makeover” of the Hindu gods that was happening in India. What is driving the change? According to the article, “the changes are part of a reimagining of Hindu stories that supporters say makes them more relevant to India’s middle-class youth, who are navigating a far different world than the one in which their parents lived.” As I read the article, it occurred to me that many liberal arts colleges in the United States are also going through a “makeover” in order to remain relevant to today’s college going youth and their parents, who are concerned about how well a college degree—particularly in the liberal arts—will prepare them for today’s workforce. In April…Read more

2014 New Year’s Resolutions Revisited - Monday Musings
With the All Star Game set for Target Field in the Twin Cities quickly approaching, Major League baseball marks the midpoint of the season, providing managers and coaches the opportunity to assess first-half performance and results as well as prepare rosters, strategies, and changes for the rest of the season. Higher education enrollment managers and coaches (vice presidents, deans, and directors) have the opportunity to reflect on their 2014 enrollment management New Year’s resolutions, take stock of what has been accomplished and what hasn’t, and – based on this spring’s results – fine tune, redirect, and revise this fall’s recruitment campaign to build demand for fall 2015 and beyond. The mid-year scorecard would likely include: Have…Read more

Audit Your Campus Tour - Monday Musings
The role of the tour guide on the campus visit has been well documented in our blogs and by countless other enrollment management professionals. The tour is a critical part of the campus visit. Tour guides control the story, the pace, and many interactions on the tour. However, tour guides follow a prescribed route and they can’t control the condition of the campus that day, so their ability to shape visitors’ impressions is limited. In my early years in admissions, the vice president for enrollment organized a campus tour audit. He gathered together over 30 people from across campus. Staff members from the physical plant, student affairs office, admissions team, marketing office, and finance office as well as faculty members took the better…Read more

Who’s on First? - Monday Musings
Time and again during the course of retention best practice reviews, we find that the institution has not appointed a retention “champion.” Numerous individuals from enrollment, student affairs, and academic leadership may be working on various aspects of retention, and there may even be a retention committee or task force, but there is no clear, integrated vision for retention strategies informed by data. In this scenario, because retention is everyone’s responsibility, in effect, it becomes no one’s responsibility. A concerted effort from all parts of the institution is needed for a successful retention program but because we all know what happens when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, assigning a retention champion is critical…Read more

This Season's Conferences: Where We'll Be in 2014 - Monday Musings
The conference season is approaching, and we’d love to connect with you! As you make your plans for professional development activities, consider a number of conference and webinar presentations S&K staff will be making over the next few months: Aaron Mahl and Michael Sapienza will be presenting at the NACCAP Annual Conference (website) June 1-4 at John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR. Sessions include: Tough Times Call for Strategic (Financial Aid) Measures The Admissions and Financial Aid Partnership: Working Together to Achieve Enrollment Goals Marketing Affordability and Value: Making the Case to Build Demand Kathy Kurz will present Leveraging Institutional Aid to Maximize Net Tuition Revenue, a webinar hosted by…Read more

Evaluate the Marketability of Your Academic Programs - Monday Musings
At the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute in early January, S&K's Jim Scannell and Bob Sevier (Sr. VP, Strategy - Stamats) heard a number of presidents mention a need for a greater understanding of not only their ability to set their price, but also the factors that should be considered when setting their price. In response, Bob and Jim decided to write a series of short blog posts on tuition pricing and related topics. Their goal - “to provide a bit more clarity on key issues related to pricing, so college and university leaders can have more confidence as they set their pricing strategy.” This series of observations is appearing here as well on the Stamats website: Evaluate the Marketability of Your…Read more

Diversify Your Revenue Streams - Monday Musings
At the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute in early January, S&K's Jim Scannell and Bob Sevier (Sr. VP, Strategy - Stamats) heard a number of presidents mention a need for a greater understanding of not only their ability to set their price, but also the factors that should be considered when setting their price. In response, Bob and Jim decided to write a series of short blog posts on tuition pricing and related topics. Their goal - “to provide a bit more clarity on key issues related to pricing, so college and university leaders can have more confidence as they set their pricing strategy.” This series of observations is appearing here as well on the Stamats website: Diversify Your Revenue Streamsby…Read more

Understand Where Your Non-Matriculants Enrolled - Monday Musings
At the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute in early January, S&K's Jim Scannell and Bob Sevier (Sr. VP, Strategy - Stamats) heard a number of presidents mention a need for a greater understanding of not only their ability to set their price, but also the factors that should be considered when setting their price. In response, Bob and Jim decided to write a series of short blog posts on tuition pricing and related topics. Their goal - “to provide a bit more clarity on key issues related to pricing, so college and university leaders can have more confidence as they set their pricing strategy.” This series of observations is appearing here as well on the Stamats website: In revising your pricing strategy,…Read more

Average vs. Total Net Tuition Revenue & Why You Have To Look At Both - Monday Musings
I recently read a paper in which a set of institutions were extolled for having held their freshman discount rates constant over the last few years since the economic recovery. And because those same institutions had increased their charges, the average net tuition revenue (NTR) generated by each enrolling student had also increased, which was also extolled. However, what was missing from the paper was any discussion of what had happened to enrollments and the total NTR generated by the incoming classes at those institutions. Without that additional information, it is possible that total NTR could have declined sharply even if average NTR increased—and it is total NTR that drives the economic engine of the institution. Certainly, if all of…Read more

Consider, but don’t get distracted, by competitor pricing - Monday Musings
At the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute in early January, S&K's Jim Scannell and Bob Sevier (Sr. VP, Strategy - Stamats) heard a number of presidents mention a need for a greater understanding of not only their ability to set their price, but also the factors that should be considered when setting their price. In response, Bob and Jim decided to write a series of short blog posts on tuition pricing and related topics. Their goal - “to provide a bit more clarity on key issues related to pricing, so college and university leaders can have more confidence as they set their pricing strategy.” These observations will appear here over the next several weeks, as well on the Stamats website: Consider, but…Read more

Don't Set Price Based on What Is Needed to Cover Expenses & Balance the Budget - Monday Musings
At the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute in early January, S&K's Jim Scannell and Bob Sevier (Sr. VP, Strategy - Stamats) heard a number of presidents mention a need for a greater understanding of not only their ability to set their price, but also the factors that should be considered when setting their price. In response, Bob and Jim decided to write a series of short blog posts on tuition pricing and related topics. Their goal - “to provide a bit more clarity on key issues related to pricing, so college and university leaders can have more confidence as they set their pricing strategy.” These observations will appear here over the next several weeks, as well on the Stamats website: Don't Set Price…Read more

2014 Enrollment Management New Year’s Resolutions - Monday Musings
Here are this Year’s Resolutions: Make sure you have a professional development plan for your key enrollment management leaders. You should know their professional aspirations, and be sure they have a plan to develop their direct reports. Conduct constructive, productive annual reviews with a specific game plan for the coming year. If you just go through the motions, that’s all you get – random motion, not concerted movement. Ensure that your recruiters are traveling in a disciplined, data-driven fashion. Territory managers need goals with year-to-date and end-of-year comparisons. These managers should have empirically defined primary, secondary and tertiary markets and should develop a relationship marketing plan for each. Plan…Read more

A Holiday Gift Guide: What Presidents Want From Their Enrollment Managers - Monday Musings
It’s the season for gift-giving, which caused S&K to think this week about what college presidents would like to receive from their enrollment managers. Presidents are so hard to shop for. Here are a few gift ideas for you: A healthy, collaborative relationship between the EM and the chief financial officer. The relationship should be an open, trusting and mutually supportive one. There should be a cohort-based revenue plan, with enrollment, institutional aid, net tuition revenue and discount rates for each student cohort as it enters the institution and then progresses through to graduation. It should be updated at least annually, if not each term. Effective collaboration between the EM and the chief academic officer, too. The EM needs…Read more

Collaboration between Admissions & Faculty - Monday Musings
Accessibility of faculty is an integral part of the experience at most institutions; this message is most effectively delivered by the faculty themselves. Beyond the obvious opportunities like meeting with families one-on-one during individual visits, allowing prospective students to sit in on classes, and being available at open house events, here are some best practice examples of faculty support for recruitment: Challenge faculty to create “wow” experiences for all recruitment events that will demonstrate what it is like to be a student at your institution, such as: investigating a mock crime scene, performing with a musical ensemble, playing a stock trading game, or participating in a debate. The goal is for each visitor to have an…Read more

Partnership: Admissions and Marketing - Monday Musings
One of the many “turf wars” we frequently observe on campuses is: “Where does marketing report and who sets the marketing agenda?" Often, the pull and tug play out between the vice president for advancement and the vice president for enrollment with the president as the referee. At issue is marketing resources – expertise and budgets. The concern often expressed is that if marketing reports to advancement, admissions and enrollment will be shorted. Conversely if marketing is part of the enrollment management organization, advancement frets that all the resources will be consumed by recruitment, admissions, and enrollments, with none left for fundraising and friend-raising. Some presidents have resolved the conflict, they think, by having…Read more

College Mergers - Monday Musings
At the end of July, Montreat College (Montreat, NC) and Point University (West Point, GA) announced plans to merge. The headline caught my eye for two reasons: 1) The former president of Montreat graduated from the same high school I did, and 2), I have been thinking and talking frequently about college mergers during the last couple of years. My hypothesis is that more mergers are inevitable. Price escalation resulting in public and political pressure, and changing demographics resulting in changes in demand, are two major forces that will cause institutions like Montreat and Point University to look first at collaboration, and eventually at merging, in order to cut costs and stay viable. For many small, medium and non-selective colleges and…Read more

Collaboration between Advancement & Enrollment Management - Monday Musings
As recently as ten years ago, S&K found the financial aid and admissions offices working at cross purposes at many institutions. In many cases, the financial aid office was focused on staying on budget; the admissions staff was focused on meeting class size goals; and no one was thinking about how to optimize net tuition revenue. Now most institutions have solved that disconnect. However, advancement and enrollment management continue to function as silos on many campuses, missing significant opportunities to collaborate to the benefit of the institution. Here are a few examples: The advancement office focuses on matching donor’s interests to institutional needs but often interprets institutional needs for scholarship support as “more…Read more

Higher Education & Collaboration - Monday Musings
My first class in my master’s program was titled: “Leadership in Higher Education.” The class provided a great introduction to leadership issues in higher education and challenged my thinking about effective leadership in the academy. One of my memories from the class was something the professor said multiple times throughout the semester: “Higher education often fails to have its maximum influence on society because leaders within institutions do not collaborate.” The professor spoke about collaboration at length that semester. Our assignments even centered around collaboration. One assignment in particular required us to identify two offices/areas on our campuses that were not collaborating and bring them together with the goal…Read more

Where Baseball and Higher Education Have Failed - Monday Musings
I just enjoyed an exciting summer of U8 all-star baseball, highlighting many of the best 8 and 9 year old ball players in Western New York (Rochester to Buffalo). My grandson, who is 9 and biracial, had a terrific time, learned a lot of baseball as well as life coping skills (baseball can be very unforgiving). But over the course of four tournaments, 18 games against more than a dozen different teams, each with rosters of 12 or more, there were less than half a dozen ballplayers of color. How can that be? Well, one only has to look at the MLB to find Caribbeans and Caucasians overrepresented and African Americans and Asians underrepresented. America’s pastime is not attracting inner city youth, especially young males of color, and the future…Read more

The Enrollment Leader as Head Coach - Monday Musings
In a recent blog post, Kathy Kurz suggested that Enrollment Management VPs are becoming as vulnerable as head coaches, with their futures just as dependent on their “win-loss” records. As the furor of pre-season football builds, here are a few reflections from the S&K coaching staff on what enrollment managers can learn from the coaching profession. Preparation and conditioning - Despite regular turnover in entry-level admissions positions, staff training is often inadequate. A good training program should lay out a year-long agenda – understanding the admission process; studying the academic program; learning the recruitment territory; preparing for travel season; shadowing on interviews, tours and group presentations; knowing enough…Read more

A Review: Engaging the Six Cultures of the Academy - Monday Musings
William Bergquist and Kenneth Pawlak’s, Engaging the Six Cultures of the Academy, is a must-read for those in higher education leadership. The book is an expanded edition of their original work, The Four Cultures of the Academy. Bergquist and Pawlak make the case throughout the book that six distinct cultures exist on every college campus. These subcultures shape mission, values, and the roles played by those who work at the university. Consequently, understanding the differences between these cultures is imperative higher education leaders. Bergquist and Pawlak state their purpose for the book: “We must determine how to work with and use the strengths and resources of the existing organizational culture to accomplish our goals. We must,…Read more

Leadership in Challenging Times - Monday Musings
At the recent RuffaloCODY conference in Denver, there was a lot of buzz about the number of VP for Enrollment Management positions that have come open over the last year. Some of those openings are the result of VPs moving on to bigger and better things, like Chris Domes — VP at Marymount University moving on to a presidency at Silver Lake College. But in other cases, the departures came after incoming class targets (size, discount rate, quality profile, etc.) were missed. Some hypothesized that leadership positions in enrollment were becoming as dependent on “win/loss records” as head coach positions. And there may well be some truth in that. Certainly we all know of enrollment management professionals whose senior leadership lost confidence…Read more

Does Sticker Price Still Matter? - Monday Musings
The answer is YES! Last fall Gallup conducted a survey during its nightly poll of Americans asking parents of 5th through 12th graders whether they will restrict colleges to which their children can apply based on tuition. It would be a safe assumption that many, if not most, of those interviewed would not have been through a full aid application and awarding process. So it’s likely that it was a fairly uninformed audience regarding how to pay for college. The extensive range in age was also problematic as many would not yet have been in a position to think much about college. Nonetheless, based on these responses, sticker price clearly does still matter. And evidently it is most influential at the very beginning of the admissions stream…Read more

Getting the Data Right - Monday Musings
When it comes to supplying data for IPEDS, Common Data Set, surveys, etc., colleges and universities take a variety of approaches. A number of institutions have sufficiently-staffed Institutional Research offices that have the time and expertise to produce the requisite data, and have protocols in place to ensure its accuracy. But frankly, there are many institutions that don’t have that luxury. Often, completion of federal and state reporting requirements turns out to be a team effort because either there is no full-time IR person or the data for a particular office is deemed “too complicated” for anyone but a staff member from that office to gather (e.g., financial aid). Consequently, the point person responsible for ensuring that data…Read more

For New Directors/Deans of Admissions, Financial Aid & Enrollment Management: What should you focus on the first three months? - Monday Musings
Hands down it’s the people. It’s your direct reports; their teams and the support staff; the other directors with whom you need to partner; and finally, your supervisor(s). Regardless of how creative and productive you are personally, you will only maximize your potential and produce optimal results through the people with whom you have built a relationship of trust and mutual respect. There are, however, subtle but very real differences in your relationship-building agenda for each audience. The following are some examples: Direct reports – This is your “go to” team and, with the exception of your supervisor(s), these are the people with whom you must forge the most solid relationship, in this case as coach/mentor. You need to get…Read more

New Staff at S&K - Monday Musings
When we look at organizational effectiveness, staffing is always a high priority. In that spirit, we’d like to introduce you to the newest staff here at Scannell & Kurz. Three researchers and one consultant have joined our ranks since January. Kim Sinha joined our research staff in January 2013. She was previously employed by the Austen Group, where she was responsible for econometric and predictive modeling, and curriculum and cost analyses. Her consulting work follows a 15-year career in institutional research. Kim earned a Ph.D. in Sociology (Applied Demography & Statistics) from Bowling Green State University, an M.A. in Sociology from Bowling Green, and a B.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Shari…Read more

Leadership in Enrollment Management: A Comprehensive Certificate Program - Monday Musings
Two recent posts to this blog outlined professional development options and provided well-considered advice for those who wish to add new elements and depth to their skills. An additional question to ponder as you consider your career is “When do you need more than a conference or a seminar?” In other words, “When do you need thoroughgoing professional education to advance your career and your effectiveness?” Jim and Kathy have been kind enough to allow me this forum to present you a comprehensive program designed to enable a new generation of enrollment professionals to rise to prominence on campus and in the field. It is the Leadership in Enrollment Management certificate program at the University of Southern California. Take a moment…Read more

Institutional Health Metrics - Monday Musings
I was recently asked by a firm that invests in student housing, "How would an institution's long term enrollment health and sustainability be measured?" After a discussion with the S&K team, here's a first pass at a list of metrics: Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s ratings, especially any recent changes Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) high school graduate projections for the school’s primary market area Recent trend in number of applications and completion rates (freshmen, transfers) Recent trend in accept rate of completed applications (freshmen, transfers) Recent trend in yield rate (freshmen, transfers) Recent trend in discount rate (freshmen, transfers, all undergraduates) Recent trend in freshman-to-sophomore…Read more

Data Sharers and Data Hoarders - Monday Musings
Have you read Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”? The first thing on his list is “share everything.” There are many people on college campuses whose professional positions require that they provide reports and data analysis. These professionals can often be categorized into two groups – data sharers and data hoarders. As their “types” would indicate, data sharers are quick to provide charts, tables, and reports to their colleagues to keep them informed about topics of common interest. Many of them are genuinely excited to share data and presentation techniques. Then there are the data hoarders. At times, they may get hung up on the power of information and tend to hold data close to the vest.…Read more

This Season's Conferences: Where We'll Be - Monday Musings
The conference season is approaching, and we’d love to connect with you! As you make your plans for professional development activities, consider a number of conference and webinar presentations S&K staff will be making over the next few months: Kathy Kurz will present financial aid webinars on May 9 and June 14. Click here for more information and to register. Shari Gnolek, a new member of our research team, will be presenting at the AIR Forum May 18-22 in Long Beach, CA. Mary Piccioli and Jen Wick will be presenting at the NACCAP Annual Conference May 29-June 1at Messiah College, Grantham, PA. Jen will be presenting at the ACT Enrollment Planners Conference July 10-12 in Chicago, IL. Kathy will be presenting at the NASFAA National…Read more

Adding Web Metrics To Your Key Performance Indicators - Monday Musings
It’s become essential for enrollment managers to use a collection of critical metrics – a dashboard, key performance indicators (KPIs) or some other set of measures – to monitor their institution’s progress throughout the recruitment cycle. These commonly include statistics like the number of inquiries, applicants, admits, deposits, campus visitors and FAFSA filers, as well as ratios like acceptance rate, yield, net tuition revenue per student and discount rate. Back in the days of the horse and buggy (when I got my start in admissions) the original dashboards prevented unpleasant surprises from hitting you in the face and they helped you to clearly see the road ahead – pretty much the same thing we’re using these statistical dashboards…Read more

Professional Development Opportunities for Enrollment Managers, Part 2 - Monday Musings
Professional development is an important component of any leader’s career. Ongoing professional development and growth not only benefit the individual leader, but also the university. When leaders are intentional about developing themselves, the ripple effects can be powerful. A professionally developed leader will quite often result in a professionally developed staff. Kathy’s last post provided a comprehensive list of conferences and other training opportunities enrollment managers should consider attending. As she noted, not only do conferences provide great content, but they also will give attendees opportunities to rub shoulders with other individuals who do similar jobs. I’ve often found the networking and, in some cases, commiserating…Read more

Professional Development Opportunities for Enrollment Managers - Monday Musings
We are often asked what we would recommend for professional development opportunities for new enrollment managers (or those aspiring to be enrollment managers). To some extent this depends on the skill set the new enrollment manager already brings to the job. If they are already well steeped in recruitment and admissions, but need to learn more about financial aid, we often suggest that they start by spending a day with us to get an overview of key issues in financial aid and an understanding of data driven financial aid leveraging. Then for those who feel the need to get more in the “weeds” on compliance and financial aid management issues, the annual FSA conference sponsored by the Department of Education is probably the best option. (Note,…Read more

Social Media for Higher Education - Monday Musings Guest Post
If you want to effectively communicate with students, employ students to help you! In the last two years the Rochester Institute of Technology has been in the midst of significant change with the implementation of a new student information system and the conversion from a quarter calendar to a semester calendar. We needed to effectively keep students informed about the changes that would directly impact them. We knew we needed to use social media, but we did not have the expertise. We decided to hire two co-op students to essentially work full-time on the project team to implement and manage a social media campaign. The results were impressive and we want to share some lessons learned with others. Click here to read a blog post written by…Read more

Social Media for Higher Education - Page Two
(You can read an introduction to this guest post by RIT's Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Registrar Joe Loffredo here.) The education world is constantly evolving to meet changing strategies and technologies in the digital space. The education world is constantly evolving to meet changing strategies and technologies in the digital space. Social media adds a new marketing medium for educators, recruiters, and students to use. The digital space is too often thought to be an easy marketing tool and strategies are not thought out within the college space. Problems with social media have plagued colleges during the digital era. Educators and college departments have made attempts at grabbing the student’s attention with whatever…Read more

What it Means to be a Leader - Monday Musings
All too often newly minted managers, namely directors of admissions and financial aid, think that in order to establish their leadership status that they have to “leave their mark” by changing a process or procedure, revising a policy, terminating a program. This is frequently a big mistake. For the most part, processes and procedures, policies and programs are put in place and established for a reason, even if they are not accomplishing everything they were intended to, or in fact need to. To dismantle without assessing the impact can yield unintended consequences. In like fashion, leading is not about imposing your authority. If you have to claim you are the leader, you are not the leader. Leadership is not about telling people what to…Read more

CRMs: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Monday Musings
A client recently asked me for my perspective on a particular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software product. As more and more institutions realize they need to communicate in a much more targeted, personal way to prospective students, and capture their responses, interest in such systems is growing. So I gave a lot of thought to this question and realized that I actually think that the question itself is the wrong question. I have seen successes and failures with almost every CRM on the market, which makes me think a particular institution’s experience is less about the product and more about the implementation process and the skill sets and training of folks on campus. Making the decision to buy a particular CRM product is not…Read more

Saying No When Admissions Said Yes - Monday Musings
As concerns about debt increase and passing credit checks for parent loans becomes more difficult, more and more financial aid officers are finding themselves in the position of having to say “no more aid is available” to students that have been wooed and admitted but are finding it hard to make ends meet. Some financial aid offices are hitting this issue head on, sending letters to students with large amounts of unmet need to fully inform them of their obligations before they enroll with language like the following: Compare the total budget on your aid letter to the total financial aid offered. There may be a substantial gap between your cost of education and the grant and scholarship funding we are able to provide. The gap must be met…Read more

Merit vs. Need-Based Aid - Monday Musings
When I was at the CIC Presidents Institute earlier this month, there was a lot of buzz about the most recent call for an agreement to focus institutional resources on need-based versus merit aid and to reduce the amount of “negotiating” of aid offers. The most surprising announcement in this session was the news that conversations had been held with the Justice Department about the legality of a possible agreement between colleges on these matters. (For more details on the conversation, see Inside Higher Ed’s Baby Steps for Need-Based Aid.) Some believe that if the Justice Department were to allow collaboration on certain principles, it may reduce the competitive pressure to continue with aid strategies based on merit rather than need.…Read more

Enrollment Management Resolutions for the New Year - Monday Musings
Resolutions for 2013: Never try to control the social media conversation. Rather, work tirelessly to create points of contact or links. Never send a new recruiter on the road without proper training regardless of when the “newbie” was hired. Throwing a new recruiter “into the deep end of the pool” will not serve the institution well in the long run. Always be sure that admissions and financial aid leadership share the common goal of a net tuition revenue target generated by new students. Check regularly to be sure your net price calculator is a good marketing tool in support of making your case for affordability. Always have the alumni admissions volunteer program be housed and overseen in admissions, led by a seasoned admissions…Read more

Happy Holidays from Scannell & Kurz!
Everyone at Scannell & Kurz wishes you a safe and happy holiday season! We hope to see you in the new year. Look for us at the following 2013 conferences: Jim Scannell and Bill Berg will be attending the CCCU Chief Enrollment Officers conference January 2-6 in Phoenix. Bill will also be presenting on January 5th. Kathy Kurz, Mary Piccioli, and Rita Haschmann will be attending the CIC Presidents’ Institute January 4-7 in Innisbrook, Florida. Jim will be presenting at the Academic Impressions conference January 23-25 in St. Louis. Kathy will be presenting at the NASFAA conference July 14-17 in Las Vegas. Scannell & Kurz staff will be presenting at the RuffaloCODY enrollment management conference in Denver July 23-24. Please check…Read more

A Monday Musings Crossword Puzzle!
  Across Down 4. Original acronym for Perkins 5. Alternative to clock hour 6. COA minus EFC = 8. Original acronym for PELL 9. Things you sleep in or process 12. Precursor to FWS 13. Which Senator originally proposed Constitution Day 14. All aid officers dread a program _____ 16. It is all about _____ and cents 18. If he is elected, bank-based loans may return 19. Senator Pell's first name 20. Original precursor to FAFSA 21. Theme of this puzzle 22. Interview required at graduation for loan borrower 24. Original name for student loan program now called Direct 26. Considered in IM but not in FM 27. What did the D in NDSL originally stand for? 1. What allowance is determined by the age of the older parent 2. Kathy Kurz's graduate…Read more

More Applications NOT a Good Thing? - Monday Musings
When are more applications not a good thing? We recently visited a campus that had increased its applications for admission five- fold over the last few years. That sounds like a good thing, right? But there can be some risks involved. First, if your internal processes and infrastructure aren’t prepared for the increase in volume, application processing will be log jammed and turnaround time will be poor. This can make an institution that purports to be small and personal feel like the DMV. Second, if your sales force is now all consumed with application review, they won’t have time to sell. Building relationships and taking the time to make the case for value is critical to high conversion rates, especially at high- cost, private institutions,…Read more

Making the Boss Happy - Monday Musings
Whether you are a counselor, a director, a vice president, or even a president, you are reporting to someone, and here are seven pointers for building a good relationship with that person or group. Come to them with possible solutions, not just the problem. Ideally, you will have gathered some data about the issue, brainstormed for some ideas to address the core challenge, and thought about the pros and cons of each approach. Play well with others. Often you will need to work with staff outside your own unit. Be proactive in working across office lines to enhance processes, service to students, or develop strategies to support enrollment and revenue goals. And, within your own unit, be a team player. Be transparent and think about your…Read more

Training & Evaluating Financial Aid Staff - Monday Musings
What sort of training and evaluation program do you have for your staff? I frequently visit financial aid offices that take a “trial by fire” approach to training, do not periodically audit work product or counseling sessions, and do not routinely conduct performance appraisals. Consequently, it is not surprising that a refrain we often hear in student focus groups is that answers to their questions vary from staff member to staff member. In higher education institutions, people are typically the biggest asset; salaries are typically the biggest line item; and yet programs to ensure maximum effectiveness and productivity from staff are often not in place. The real irony, at least in the financial aid profession, is that there are many resources…Read more

National Student Clearinghouse - Monday Musings
If you are already using the National Student Clearinghouse’s (NSC) many services, you can stop reading this blog now. However, I continue to be surprised by the number of institutions that are not taking advantage of this valuable source of information. First, a brief primer about the NSC: They were originally founded in 1993 to serve as a clearinghouse for verifying enrollment, initially primarily for loan deferment purposes – a function that previously was handled by individual registrar’s offices. Since that time, they have expanded to offering many other services including degree verification, the StudentTracker service which is discussed more below, electronic transcript exchange, and now student self-service options. Per the NSC…Read more

The Shopping Sheet - Monday Musings
I was just looking at the final version of the Department of Education and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “Shopping Sheet” and wondering how many of our clients are planning to use it. My biggest concern with it is that the “what you will pay” section includes total cost of attendance minus gift aid, rather than direct costs minus gift aid. When I was a financial aid director, families found the whole concept of indirect costs versus direct costs very confusing, so I finally listed only direct costs (tuition, room, board, and mandatory fees) at the top of the award letter, with an estimate in a later paragraph of the other costs they would have for books, transportation, personal expenses, etc. That solved the problem, but doing…Read more

Remaking the American University: Market-Smart and Mission-Centered - Monday Musings
Earlier this summer, I re-read Robert Zemsky, William F. Massy, and Gregory R. Wegner’s 2005 Remaking the American University: Market-Smart and Mission-Centered. What continues to make this book so relevant is its analysis of college costs and the forces that drive them. Despite the fact that the authors write from the vantage point of pre-recession 2005, their analysis remains compelling. They coined the terms “administrative lattice” and “academic ratchet” to describe the internal factors contributing to college costs. The administrative lattice describes the growth of administrative structure that arose in response to: faculty consignment of traditionally academic service functions to administration; increased regulation from…Read more

And The Financial Aid Office Reports To... Monday Musings
Where should the financial aid office report? To Enrollment Management? To the CFO? Student Affairs? Somewhere else? We are frequently asked this question, largely because the aid office does not have one natural home. No matter what area oversees it, the financial aid office will have responsibilities outside of its direct reporting line. The aid office provides support and interacts closely with several different areas, including: recruitment and admissions, budget management, advancement, institutional research, registrar, student accounts, and student affairs, all while providing customer service, keeping up with processing, and ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations. Often, the financial aid office is short on resources,…Read more

Not All Applications Are Created Equal - Monday Musings
Tracking yield rates by various subpopulations is a standard procedure for most admissions offices. In-state and out-of-state; male and female; minority and non-minority; aid filers and non-filers; early action and regular decision; high school GPA levels; SAT/ACT levels. You get the picture. Yields vary by subpopulation, therefore as the application cycle progresses and admissions/enrollment is being asked for projections, it is important to understand how changes in the admit pool in certain categories may affect yield. When an institution embarks on a new application-generating approach, such as a pre-populated application from the search pool, membership in the Common Application, or other methods, it is with the expectation that the number…Read more

Organizational Effectiveness - Monday Musings
When institutions create silos, customer service suffers. Stated another way, when colleges and universities organize and create policies and practices from an internal point of view (e.g., administrative convenience, job security, etc.) versus a vision of how the institution looks from the outside, navigation can be a nightmare, service gaps are routine, and redundancies are rampant. Let me cite two examples of administrative dysfunctionality, one that crosses divisional boundaries and one that exists within an administrative unit. First, registration policies that do not take into account the unique need for timely course availability for newly enrolled transfer students can add considerably to time to degree. At a minimum, the admissions…Read more

Benchmarking Dos & Don’ts - Monday Musings
Higher education institutions love to benchmark with other institutions on a variety of factors such as faculty salaries, endowment per student, research dollars garnered, tuition charges, etc. But often institutions don’t conduct the type of benchmarking that we think is most important. Here is our top list of enrollment management benchmarking “dos” and one “don’t”: When attempting to gain an understanding of your market position through benchmarking, DO benchmark with competitors, rather than peers or aspirants. DON’T just compare yourself to competitors on sticker price—compare discount rates; “prestige measures” like test scores, U.S. News rank, and accept rates; and measures of socio-economic and ethnic diversity,…Read more

Future Thinking in Higher Education (Part 2)
Yesterday we talked about three mega-trends that could be game changes for higher education and enrollment management: Transparency, credentialing, and virtualization. (You can read yesterday's blog post here.) Two other emerging trends that could rock our world are:  Speed: Everything happens faster today. People expect immediate responses to their inquiries; new consumer products and services are introduced more rapidly; data for decision making is updated constantly; etc. Yet, in many higher education institutions, and even enrollment management areas, the pace has not “kept pace.” Here, non-profit institutions have a lot to learn from their for-profit counterparts, where inquiry responses are sent within the same hour; where curricula…Read more

Future Thinking in Higher Education (Part 1) - Monday Musings
In a recent article for AACRAO, Marguerite Dennis, former Vice President for Enrollment and International Programs at Suffolk University, talked about Anticipatory Enrollment Management — stressing the need for enrollment managers to monitor emerging trends that may signal significant change for their institutions and higher education in general. We believe she is absolutely right, and wanted to talk about five emerging game changers and the implications we see for enrollment managers. Today we’ll cover the first three. Be sure to come back tomorrow as we’ll cover the last two. Transparency: Increasingly colleges and universities are being required to provide more information to consumers about net costs; graduation rates; outcomes;…Read more

New Recruiter Training - Monday Musings
Whenever interviewing a team of admissions recruiters, there is likely a “rookie” or two in the group. I always ask the “rookie” how they were trained to meet the challenges of their first tour of duty and on a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being petrified and 10 being confident, how prepared they felt in the first week or two of fall travel. The response in the vast majority of cases is typically a shadow experience or two, and then it’s pretty much on the job training (OJT) and self-rating of 2. By the way, OJT is a proxy for no training program at all. With turnover of recruiters in admissions offices being the norm, you’d have thought that admissions leadership would have figured out how to introduce a new team member to the profession. We…Read more

Increasing Funding for Federal Work Study - Monday Musings
While I certainly don’t agree with everything President Obama recently proposed related to higher education financial aid programs, the idea of increasing funding for federal work study can be a win–win–win for students, their universities, and their future employers. Some believe that doubling work study would simply subsidize universities, not really provide additional funding for students. I disagree. Many of our clients would like to open more on-campus jobs for their students, but lack the funding to do so. And working on campus provides benefits that go well beyond simply putting money in students’ pockets. It provides students with a resume building experience, in some cases related to their future careers. We know from freshman…Read more

"Call the financial aid office!" - Monday Musings
OK, I admit it. I am addicted to the television show "Parenthood." So imagine my husband’s surprise a couple of weeks ago when I began shouting at the TV during a recent episode... “CALL THE FINANCIAL AID OFFICE.” One of the characters, Hattie, had just gotten accepted into Cornell, and her parents were thinking they would have to tell her to withdraw the application because the father had lost his job and was now working with his brother in a start-up company. It occurred to me that shouting at fictional characters on the TV was probably not the best way for me to express my concern – hence this blog. I urge you all to take another look at the communications you have regarding affordability and financial aid to be sure that you have…Read more

Abrupt Staffing Changes: Are You Prepared? - Monday Musings
I was recently talking with someone from an institution where a key leader in admission and financial aid had given very short notice of his departure during a critical part of the enrollment cycle (application evaluation time and the beginning of financial aid awarding). This discussion got me thinking about another situation I encountered a few months ago at a small institution where financial aid packaging was done manually by one individual who had not documented the process. How reliant are you on key individuals with specialized knowledge? What would happen if these people were suddenly not available? Since financial aid packaging season is here, and you can’t afford inaccurate or delayed offers of financial aid, take a moment to evaluate…Read more

New Year’s Resolutions Every Enrollment Manager Should Make for 2012 - Mondays Musings
Here are our 12 for '12: Will always base marketing, recruitment, and awarding decisions, as well as retention interventions, on empirical evidence and data analysis. Will create a “culture of evidence” among the enrollment management leadership team. Will mentor and provide professional development opportunities for the enrollment management leadership team. Will be sure that the admissions office and financial aid office share the common goal of net tuition revenue for new students. Will ensure that the admissions office appropriately resources the recruitment and enrollment of transfer students based on the transfer market share of new students. Will make sure the admissions office is armed with proof statements of the return…Read more

Planning, Decision-Making & Good Communication - Monday Musings
We recently encountered an auxiliary service that decided in May to charge a room deposit of $750 for new and returning students. Rather than incorporate it into the student billing system, they simply mailed out their own bills. Students and parents were aggravated, wondering why they were getting a separate bill and why the amount was so high. Another institution reported that they routinely sent bills with the wrong tuition to students enrolling in one particular program because the registrar wanted to be sure the students were really coming before correcting the tuition charge. The correction (as much as $8,000 higher) left the financial aid office scrambling to adjust aid awards. Similarly, sending out bills without informing financial…Read more

Higher Education Entrepreneurship: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly - Monday Musings
Not-for-profit higher education institutions have the reputation of being slow to change; unresponsive to market demand; and unimaginative with respect to delivery modes. This is beginning to change, however, and one is starting to see more interest in approaches that differ from the standard 12-15 credits, semester-based, course delivery method. While this change is positive in many ways, it is important for the entrepreneurial minds developing new approaches to remember that federal financial aid regulations, and most higher education software systems, in many ways are still driven by traditional delivery modes. Consequently, it can be very difficult to ensure compliance with federal regulations when providing financial aid to students in…Read more