The Future of Enrollment Management

Using data effectively is crucial to drive strategic enrollment decision making

Institutions collect a wealth of data regarding admissions, financial aid and student success factors. All of these data provide a holistic view of prospective and current students, but it is crucial that this actionable intelligence be used to create and deploy personal and productive messages. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on April 23, 2015, an executive from Carroll University discussed how his institution is mastering the process of data collection and leveraging that information to manage, prioritize, and trigger institutional responses in enrollment, financial aid, and student success to improve student completion rates, and highlighted key strategies for utilizing data to drive enrollment decisions at any institution.

V.P. of Marketing

We’re honored to have an experienced and successful leader in enrollment management, Jim Wiseman, as our speaker. Jim has worked in the enrollment area of higher education for 33 years. For the last 23 years he’s served Carroll University in Wisconsin as their chief enrollment officer. During his tenure at Carroll, the university has had a 169 percent increase in enrollment. The average ACT score has increased, and retention and graduation rates have improved. Jim has played an instrumental role in the development of predictive enrollment and point modeling at Carroll, using the Jenzabar Retention platform.

V.P. of Enrollment Management
Carroll University (Wis.)

Carroll is a four-year, non-profit, private institution located outside Milwaukee. We have 3,500 students. We’re a residential institution that offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and clinical doctorate degrees. We approach enrollment management by focusing on admissions, financial aid and student success.

As enrollment managers, there are two resources we we have control over: time and money. How much of our time do we dedicate to different areas, and how do we prioritize the time of our staff members? And then, there’s money. Where do you invest? Where do you target your aid? How do you find and recruit students, and where do you invest to improve retention? It boils down to strategic resource allocation. The best way to know how to allocate is collecting information and data. But it’s more than that. Right now, we easily get accessible data. But what we need is actionable data.

When we plan a prospective student’s campus visit, there’s a lot that goes into it. What kind of majors are they considering? Are there certain majors that confirm at greater rates than others? What economic factors, financial aid factors and academic ability factors about these visitors can we gather? We do this so that when we model, we have the ability to put all of those things together to create a model score. We do a lot of predictive modeling at Carroll. But the reality is, it’s not as good today as it’s going to be in five years.

Coming soon is the next generation of IT systems, including Jenzabar’s JX SEM CRM, Strategic Enrollment Management. Predictive modeling is built into these units. When we talk about marketing our institution, everyone assumes that’s just for new students. And it is. But marketing your institution from a financial aid basis is just as important. The reality is that good retention programs are about how to recruit freshmen to be sophomores, sophomores to be juniors, and juniors to be seniors. So we have two types of marketing methodologies at our disposal. First, we have product-based. The best way to think of product-based marketing is to think of a giant jigsaw puzzle that represents the institution. Each individual piece is an academic program, one of our services, or one of our co-curricular programs. If we take those puzzle pieces, put them into a canister, shake it up and dump them on the table, and then bring in a prospective student and a current student and say, “Pick out the pieces that best meet your needs, wants and expectations,” that’s basically product-based marketing.

In the future, you will see a movement toward consumer-based marketing. A consumer-based marketing approach works to identify the needs, wants and expectations of students, and then demonstrates how your institution can meet those need-based expectations. We have the ability to create a new enrollment paradigm. Our ability to target our audience more consistently by using predictive models will be important. We have to have the ability to identify the expectations not only of our students, but also of the parents throughout the enrollment life cycle.

Utilizing IT systems used to be a very manual, labor-intensive process. But the new systems will collect information about student needs, and then it will trigger an institutional response. These systems will also automatically keep track of what works and what doesn’t work for each family member. We will be able to create tools that enable us to collect information about student needs, wants and expectations throughout the life cycle, and automatically populate all the databases so the process will no longer require data entry. If you look at how we collect data today, we use inquiry forms, applications and visits.

For these to be effective, you have to ask the right questions. We should ask: “What are the key points to determine which school you are going to enroll at?” or, “Which of these things best describe you?” and then provide a table of answers from which they select. All of this could be populated into our systems and used to prioritize direct mail. Prioritizing who they want to meet with on a campus visit will tell us more about their needs. On our campus is a large tablet called a MixBoard that sits on the wall in the lobby of our visit area. Our tour guides use this board, which has information about the student’s visit. Students then load what they call a “PURL,” a personalized URL for each student and each parent. On the personalized URL is the contact information for who they met with. Also, we take their picture and the picture loads into our system, as well the PURL, so they have a remembrance of Carroll and who their tour guide was. The PURLs are basically mobile sites, but they are more high-tech than that in terms of the design and how you can market to it. When they open their Carroll portal, we ask them four questions about their needs, wants and expectations.

If you’ve never used live chat, in five years this will be commonplace in enrollment management, with a full-time counselor devoted to monitoring live chat. Live chat can tell you exactly who is on your website and at what time, what IP address they’re coming from, and what they are clicking on. Financial aid is important; common resources include merit scholarships and net price calculators. While you can’t mandate that a student fills in their name and address, you can include it as an optional field. If you do get their contact information, what about using the net price calculator as a trigger for more correspondence?

Available comparison charts allow us to prepopulate the Carroll portion as they get financial aid. We can also have them add in another institution’s name and it will calculate the cost to attend, and compare one school to the next. When they do that, it saves in our database. When it comes to student success, we do initial phone interviews over the summer to establish a baseline. Every freshman who comes in has an assigned student success professional. To help with this, Jenzabar has created the College Readiness Inventory, a non-cognitive survey. Our predictive model was very effective when we used the data that was in our system. But for the longest time, we kept saying, “There’s more to this. The data doesn’t address student behavior, attitudes and motivation.” And those are exactly what this non-cognitive survey addresses.

We monitor individual events, and create something we call the PIO Meter (based on the Carroll’s mascot’s name, Pioneer). The PIO Meter lives on the student’s portal. The baseline is the survey results, and then they are able to move the survey results wherever they want, up or down. Another important piece of enrollment management is data storage and maintenance. Your data has to be flexible, easily mined and user-appropriate. In the future it’s guaranteed that students will be more mobile. It will be important for our admissions counselors, financial aid and student success staff to be mobile as well. I don’t believe there’s a staff in the future that will be working from 8:00 to 4:30 every day. It’s going to be on-demand. Schools will have to figure out how to match the free time of counselors with their work expectations, and they are going to have to come up with accountability measures.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to


Most Popular