Enrollment is critical. You may have a wonderful vision, an outstanding strategic plan, and top-notch personnel in all the key spots — but without enough students, your school will languish.

Boards and senior administrators must pay close attention to enrollment numbers, and that means working closely with the enrollment team — not the lead enrollment officer only, but the entire staff. Yet board members are also sensitive to the appearance of meddling in administrative affairs. How do you strike a proper balance, ensuring that your board is appropriately aware of the big picture?

In his Spring 2014 article in In Trust, "Measure and Mix," David Worley lists four key questions that boards, presidents, academic deans, and other senior administrators should ask their enrollment team.

  1. How well do we distinguish ourselves from other schools? Worley notes the time is long past when the admissions director was only a file reviewer and gatekeeper. He advises, “The lead enrollment officer should be one of the most forward-looking members of the whole institutional team.” Enrollment personnel talk to hundreds of potential students and are in the best position to determine what these individuals want and need. They can use this information to propose new initiatives to senior leadership; wise school leaders will listen carefully to their findings.
  2. How do our current enrollment metrics compare with prior years? “You cannot manage what you cannot measure, so one of the first steps toward constructive enrollment management is to determine key indicators.” At a minimum, says Worley, boards should ask the enrollment team for an annual report of inquiries, applications, deposits, and matriculated students.
  3. Are we attending to student fit? Worley notes that the key word here is “fit,” not “quality.” Good student fit enhances the experience of all students, as well as the job satisfaction of faculty and staff. In addition, a good enrollment officer understands the strengths of the school’s various degree programs and can help students make wise choices for their particular mix of talents, aptitudes, and experiences.
  4. Is the lead enrollment officer integrated into the institution’s leadership team? This is a key question. "If the lead enrollment officer is not a member of the institution’s core leadership team, it’s worth considering whether to upgrade the position and make the lead enrollment officer a member of the cabinet.” As the primary link between the school and its future student body, your lead enrollment officer is your link to a sustainable future.

You can read more about these key questions in Worley's "Measure and Mix."