It’s pretty early in the morning and I’m at my computer sipping on some green tea, skimming the popular higher ed sites on the latest news in my industry, and my morning routine is immediately interrupted. I see an article on the chronicle.com about enrollment management. Of course this grabs my attention. I’ve worked under the umbrella of enrollment management most of my professional career and it’s a long term goal of mine. Instead of perusing it and moving on to the next article, I take a deep dive into it.
Are you an enrollment management tycoon? Mmm. Good question. Am I?
So, can schools increase their rankings without negatively affecting lower income students’ access to the institution? I’d like to think so. I would also like to think that it can be done ethically without gaming the system. However, I’m not so sure or confident that its common practice. As Vox.com mentioned, schools may do things like make their application simpler to attract for applicants only so they can reject more applicants and decrease their acceptance rates. Another good one is focusing on courses on opposite ends of the spectrum, increasing the number of courses with fewer than 20 students while increasing the number of classes with 100+ students. Please go and check out the intriguing words of Alvin Chang at Vox. The game had its flaws but I think it’s a great conversation starter and something to think about more intentionally in the world of enrollment management.
Personally, I’d much rather dig deep into why rankings matter so much today and why we as consumers rely on them so heavily in our decision making process. The more experience I get the more I’d rather hear about student experience and satisfaction. I want to discuss intangible and transferable skill development, critical thinking, and lifelong learning when it comes to student success and what institutions are doing to promote their great work.
Yes, the factors included in many ranking models and equations matter. They tend to include variables that are very important and applicable to student success. However, I feel like sometimes we lose sight of the original intent. Instead of improving holistically, I witness a lot of conversations on work arounds and how to get higher rankings without actually doing anything that will help the students and improve the quality of education and services they receive.
I’m going to wrap this post up, but not the topic. It’s my career, and I always have this concern that some of these practices ultimately hurt historically marginalized communities. The people we want to serve. So, I’m going to continue to dig deeper. I wholeheartedly believe there is another and better way.
Oh, one last thing. Shout out to the schools who choose not to participate in the ranking hoopla. It doesn’t mean you’re doing great and the argument can be made that if you participated it would do more harm than good. Either way, kudos to you for not even playing the game. Anymore.