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What Every Head Needs to Know About Enrollment Management

December 4, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Reforms and innovations crowd the educational landscape. Some are focused on new thinking or the latest research in curriculum design and assessment. Others are more systemic—focused on the institutional policies and practices put in place to achieve successful outcomes. One such reform that effectively shifted institutional strategy in higher education over the past 30 years is enrollment management.

As Don Hossler and Bob Bontrager describe in the Handbook for Strategic Enrollment Management (published by the American Association of College Registrars and Admission Officers), the idea of enrollment management was first conceived in college admission offices in the 1970s in response to a projected decrease in demand, and was characterized by new demographic research and revamped segmented marketing efforts. By the late 1980s, the concept had grown to include all of the functions necessary to attract and retain students. Today, strategic enrollment management hinges on an institution’s ability to integrate through data, to build predictive models for enrollment, and to create varied pathways to enrollment success.

Therefore, the work of admission—getting students through the door—is a key component of enrollment management, but is just the beginning. As independent schools are increasingly challenged by the same external forces that have shaped the adoption of strategic enrollment management structures, processes, and policies in higher education, the national conversation on K-12 enrollment management has taken center stage.

This report is intended to provide independent school leaders with both a high-level overview of enrollment management and some specific examples of enrollment management practice in schools. We hope that this report provokes dialogue and new thinking about the changing conditions of and expectations for enrollment management—at a time when sustainable enrollment remains, for the foreseeable future, the number one issue facing independent schools.

Heather Hoerle, Executive Director, The Enrollment Management Association

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