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Colleges Drowning in Student Data (and Tech Vendor Sales Calls)

Enrollment leaders within higher ed are "awash in data" and "a swirling array of technology vendors," all of whom purport to be able to help schools pull "insights from data." So even though enrollment management directors see the value in the use of technology for their jobs, because they receive "dozens" of vendor contacts weekly, they've also become "understandably jaded."

So expressed a new report from Eduventures that examines the state of enrollment management within colleges and universities. "Enrollment Management: Looking to the Next Generation of Leadership" shared the findings of interviews with 11 enrollment leaders in large and small public and not-for-profit private institutions to understand how their work has changed in an era of declining enrollment and increasing diversity among students.

In the area of technology, the interviewees acknowledged the use of data and the value of performance dashboards to help them and their teams understand the movement of students through the college lifecycle. As a result, enrollment people are working "more closely than ever" with IT colleagues in selecting data systems and building "ecosystems" for pulling together student lifecycle data.

At the same time, noted one participant, the rapid pace with which decision-making is done now has also made it "short-sighted." Gone is the time "to think, reflect and deliberate across many groups within the university," he said. "If data is not quickly found in a dashboard, we may not have the time to see it. I am worried that we are answering big questions with limited information."

Enrollment and IT isn't the only collaboration going on, noted Eduventures Principal Analyst Kim Reid. "Enrollment management leaders are now collaborating with other executive administrators to ensure healthy enrollment throughout the student lifecycle," she said.

Reid's report found that over the last decade, the "pressures" of enrollment have brought enrollment management into the spotlight. As the report stated, "The high-price, high-discount model of higher education provides the backdrop for enrollment management's role as a connector of revenue and students. Enrollment managers must serve as both stewards of an institution's financial sustainability and advocates for student success."

The new report, available to the advisory service's subscribers, is intended to highlight the innovative practices being used by institutions to align the mission of their schools with their revenue goals.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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