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.

trends in higher ed

Planning & Borrowing for College - Monday Musings
When it comes to paying for college, we know that American families vary widely in their planning. Sallie Mae’s 2014 report, How America Pays For College, provides some interesting insights. The report is based on a survey Ipsos conducted for Sallie Mae of 1600 undergraduates and their parents in April 2014. The study found that 38% of families reported that they had a plan to pay for their student’s entire college education before the student enrolled. Responses differed significantly, though, by family income. The percentage of families reporting they had a plan decreased from the previous year for all but high-income families. In related research, RuffaloCODY repeated its Perceptions of Financial Aid survey of college-bound seniors and…Read more

Review of Documentary "Ivory Tower" - Monday Musings
During the Aligning Experts conference in Chicago, a sneak preview was held of the documentary Ivory Tower. A quick-take review concludes that the movie generally sensationalized a number of topics and spent too much time focusing on outlier institutions. Allow me to explain: The opening spent significant time discussing Harvard. The mainstream media love to write and talk about the Ivies; however, that’s not the reality of higher education for 99% of students and families. There was also significant time devoted to Cooper Union and the school’s recent decision to begin charging tuition, which sparked campus protests and the occupation of the president’s office for about 2 months. Again, what percentage of the college-going population…Read more

Enrollment Management Web Resources - Monday Musings
If you’re like me, you may find it frustrating trying to keep up with the latest trends in enrollment management. I have a few favorite sources on the web that I check regularly and a few others I also try to keep up with, but new sources are constantly popping up. In the interest of putting a more comprehensive list together, I asked my colleagues here at S&K for their favorites. So now I feel totally on top of things. At least for today. Please post your favorites in a comment below. Blogs Chronicle of Higher Education Headcount Inside Higher Ed Blog U Washington Monthly College Guide Jon Boeckenstedt’s Admitting Things Bow Tie Admission Stamats MyCollegeGuide (see the archives) Center…Read more

Responding to Application Trends - Monday Musings
In response to concerns from some institutions that are facing declining applications for fall 2014, the team at Scannell & Kurz and RuffaloCODY compiled the following list of intervention suggestions. You may already be doing many of these things, but hopefully everyone will find at least one new idea in the list. (Special thanks to Kim Myrick who started this project!) Admission Staff OutreachInquiries Immediate call to all new inquirers for application and visit Create urgency by using deadlines for priority consideration Contact students who send test scores or transcripts but haven't applied—call best candidates, email all—notify these students of potential scholarship matches Contact students who visited but have not yet applied—email…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

Student Views on the Difficulty of Paying For College - Monday Musings
Recent improvements in the economy haven’t alleviated families’ concerns about paying for college. RuffaloCODY recently conducted a telephone survey of 1600 current high school sophomores, juniors and seniors and found that 22% felt that paying for their college education was going to be “Quite difficult”, while 62% felt it would be “Somewhat difficult.” The results were nearly identical to those of a similar survey conducted last year. Perhaps not surprisingly, the proportion expecting that paying for college would be “Quite difficult” increased as students got older and the prospect of college got closer. Students in the south are more sanguine about their prospects. Finally, the results also differ somewhat as a function…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

Update on Student Debt Stats - Monday Musings
In early summer Kathy Kurz wrote a blog about the media frenzy surrounding student loan debt reaching $1 trillion. Now that fall has arrived and new statistics are available, I thought I would share a few. According to the Project on Student Debt, an initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), here are some interesting statistics on student debt for the Class of 2011, those who graduated from four-year public and not-for-profit colleges and universities: 1 in 3 students graduated with no student loan debt. That’s $0 debt. For the two-thirds who did borrow, average debt compared to the class of 2010 increased 5.3%, from $25,250 to $26,600. Unemployment for college graduates, a contributing factor to the concern…Read more

National Trends of Note - Monday Musings
The Chronicle’s annual Almanac came out this year at the same time as NACUBO’s 1962-2012 retrospective. In looking at the trends reported in these two publications, I took note of a few that I wanted to highlight in this week’s blog. From the Chronicle of Higher Education 2012 Almanac: For students who started college in fall 2006, the most common transfer destination for students who started at a four-year institution was a two-year institution. Looking specifically at students who started at private non-profit schools, slightly more than 40% of those who transferred went to two-year publics. Slightly less than 40% went to four-year publics and only about 20% went to other four-year private not-for-profits. These statistics surprised…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

DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education - Monday Musings
I just finished reading DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, by Anya Kamenetz. Although it was published in March of 2010, it is still very relevant today as the consumer rebellion against rising college costs that she predicted has started to come to fruition, especially this year. In addition, all of the recent press about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) was foreshadowed in her assertion that the availability of free course content on the web (via iTunes U, YouTube…) plus social media platforms to make high tech also high touch (e.g., 2for platform, online gaming…) has the potential to transform the delivery of education. She observes three reactions to these opportunities: A movement…Read more