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.


Distance From Home - Monday Musings
Distance from home. It’s an important part of the college decision-making process for many families. I was reminded of the importance recently when dear friends were visiting campuses with their second oldest. Her older brother attended a college about 7 hours from home. Their third, much younger child named Colin, missed his brother in a big way while he was away at college. When Colin accompanied his sister and family on the college visit circuit, he was worried his sister would also choose a college far from home. He was known to regularly remark after a visit: “Too far, Meg, pick another.” It remains a secret whether or not Meg’s younger brother influenced her college choice, however, she did attend a college less than an hour away. Distance…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

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

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

Retention Best Practices - Monday Musings
Although you are at the very beginning of a new school year, we suspect many of you are already thinking about retention. Hopefully this checklist of best retention practices will provide some food for thought and discussion on your campus as you now work to keep those students you labored so hard to enroll. Implement EARLY warning systems – and by early we mean in the first two weeks of the term—that identify students not attending class; doing poorly on initial graded work; exhibiting behavioral problems in the dorms; not meeting their financial obligations. Remember the system needs to not only identify at risk students, but also include a follow-up plan to be implemented for each student identified. And, by all means, if you have…Read more

Capturing Your Stories - Monday Musings
Although our blogs clearly show that we are biased in favor of data, we also know how critical stories are to marketing, recruiting, retention, and alumni relations. Yet most institutions aren’t very deliberate about capturing and sharing fresh stories. As you prepare for summer training for recruiters and orientation leaders, here are some strategies we have seen work for collecting compelling anecdotes: Run a contest. Saint Bonaventure recently asked incoming students to submit a short video about why they chose SBU. Not only was it a way to keep new students engaged, but now they have posted the top contenders on YouTube. You could do the same thing with current students, with faculty, with alumni, etc. Stay in touch with current students…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

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

Retention Benchmarking Using Free Online Tools - Monday Musings
Retention is one of the hardest “needles” to move. Yet colleges and universities often set retention targets based on hopes and aspirations rather than a realistic assessment of what is likely to be possible based on both the institution’s history and external benchmarking. One tool that can be very helpful in setting realistic retention goals is The Education Trust’s College Results Online Advanced Search site, which can be found at Using this tool, you can identify other institutions that resemble yours in terms of some key factors that often influence retention such as institutional size and type; median SATs and selectivity; percent receiving Pell Grants; percent enrolled part-time; etc. As can be seen in…Read more