Future Thinking in Higher Education (Part 1) - Monday Musings

By Kathy Kurz on Mar 12, 2012

Are you monitoring online trends that might signal significant changes for your institution?

Tags: administrative, enrollment strategies

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.

  1. Transparency: Increasingly colleges and universities are being required to provide more information to consumers about net costs; graduation rates; outcomes; etc. but even more important, students and families more and more are able to get the “inside scoop” on institutions through uncontrolled social media outlets. Consequently, enrollment managers need to stop thinking about how to “control” the messages and start thinking more about how to influence them.
  2. What will the future look like for enrollment managers?Credentialing: The establishment of MITX—under which MIT will offer a portfolio of free online courses and then charge a modest fee for credentialing the successful master of the content—is the latest, and most notable, addition to the credentialing trend. (Even NASFAA has jumped on the bandwagon, now offering credentialing for financial aid administrators.) Higher education institutions need to begin to think now about what their worlds will be like if employers begin to accept a portfolio of credentials in lieu of a college degree. This game changer could mean that students still thinking about attending traditional colleges are looking far more for socialization than education. In the extreme, “enrollment management” may be more about facilitating a student’s entrance to a network of educational opportunities than admitting students to a college.
  3. Virtualization: Technology has already changed the way we work, learn, and play together. “In-person” has given way to “online”. And yet, as a society, we still seek both individual recognition and a community (e.g., Facebook). Enrollment managers, therefore, need to become increasingly creative about building relationships with prospective students through new media and methods. Similarly, educators will need to become increasingly facile at building “virtual” learning communities to supplement (or even eventually supplant) the in-classroom experience.

What do you think about the first three trends we have listed here? Read part two here.

Image © iStockphoto.

Kathy KurzAbout the author: Kathy Kurz retired after 18 years as Vice President of Scannell & Kurz. Her area of expertise is developing strategic financial aid and retention programs designed to enhance enrollment and net tuition revenue results. She previously served as Associate Vice President at the University of Rochester and Director of Financial Aid at Earlham College.

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