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Case Scenario Large Urban Public University




The large urban public university located in a metropolitan city with a diverse population.  The enrollment declined each year over the last 4 years.  The current president has been tasked with growing enrollment by the board to exceed 4,000 new students for the fall.  The VPEM has been relieved of duties.


Challenges for enrollment include the lack of affordable residential housing, community colleges in the local area that afford students a 2-year education with minimal cost, culture of a commuter school with few curricular activities and an oversubscribed transportation system.  


The institution is also interested in growing the graduate programs with colleges in science and technology, business, public service and arts and humanities. 


Initial Review:  


During the initial review it was discovered:


  1. The institution enrolls a fair number of transfer students; however, not enough from what could be classified as feeder schools.  

  2. The institution offers Title IV financial aid and very little scholarship funding.  The scholarship funding that is offered is not awarded in full or in a timely manner, and rolls forward each year as new expendable aid; however, the university has not formulated a model for leveraging.

  3. The institution has an extraordinarily difficult time posting financial aid to students accounts in a timely fashion.

  4. The institution does not have an adequate CRM in place for tracking students within the admission funnel and the university is undergoing an ERM systems upgrade.  Data is impossible to analyze.

  5. The admission criteria recently changed, and the university is no longer open admission.

Plan and Implementation

  • Implemented a scholarship incentive plan for students who had previously attended the university but had not completed their degrees.

  • Developed the strategic plan by brainstorming with the admission team to ensure that each lead was tracked and messaged to recruit students from community colleges.

  • Held automatic admission days on campus and at local area high schools.

  • Created productive on-campus events.

  • Utilized lead generation, social media and marketing to create awareness.

  • Revised best business practices for admissions, registration, and financial aid.

  • Held weekly meetings to ensure accountability, developed action items and coached and trained the team to success.

  • Re-organized staffing responsibilities.




4,310 new students increased net revenue by approximately $5Mfor the current budget and with retention efforts in place about $14M over 3 years, recognizing some new students would complete their degrees in 2-3 years.  This was the largest enrollment on record at the university.  Re-organized staffing responsibilities, developed goals, accountability and hired new VPEM.


Today, the university is still growing with record enrollments annually.  They continue to follow the implementation practices and keep in touch regularly.


Case Scenario Small Liberal Arts College



The small religious liberal arts college is located near a metropolitan city with a diverse population.  The enrollment has declined precipitously over the past two years.  The president has accepted a position at a nearby college and they are in search of a new college president.  The vice president of enrollment and the director of admission have been relieved of their duties in May.  The college is in danger of closure, and recently a nearby college has closed.  Even with that closure the college enrollment did not increase. The board has tasked the Provost to increase undergraduate and graduate enrollment immediately.  The college has several top-ranked graduate programs.


Challenges for enrollment include competition in the metropolitan city, lack of essential business practices in admission, a new CRM that is not utilized fully, marketing is spending funds on leads that are not converting, and financial aid is slow and student unfriendly.  


The institution is also interested in growing the graduate programs with nursing, business, public service and arts and humanities. 



Initial Review:  


During the initial review it was discovered:


  1. Messaging to new students was inconsistent, grammatically incorrect, and unbranded.

  2. Scholarship funding was not competitive.  

  3. The admission information session was boring, long and not enticing.

  4. Admission travel was inconsistent with applications received.

  5. The admission team was very new, less than one year in service, and untrained.

  6. The marketing spend was not returning converted leads.

  7. Financial Aid was only interested in compliance and not student centered.

  8. Attrition was increasing year over year by 1-2 percent.

  9. Melt was occurring at a rapid rate and the funnel is not growing to replace summer melt.


Historical metrics for the university include the following:


Undergraduate enrollment has declined by 20% over the last two years, while the discount rate has increased 2%.  The net revenue has declined by a total of $4M.  Graduate enrollment is housed in an off-campus site and awaits the construction of a new facility.  Graduate enrollment has declined by 30%.


Plan and Implementation

  1. Developed a financial aid leveraging model that enhances net revenue without exceeding board approved discount rates.

  2. Trained and coached the admission team, implemented goals for key metrics.

  3. Updated the admission information session to showcase the value proposition.

  4. Reviewed the admission travel and implement structure and accountability o the process.

  5. Increased awareness and conversions by utilizing vendor platforms

  6. Re-designed marketing spend for peak processing times

  7. Re-trained the financial aid team for customer service

  8. Involved faculty in the process of enrolling students




Immediately stopped the melt by continuing to enroll transfer students with events and marketing during summer.  Enrolled 25 new transfer students in 30 days.  Increased graduate enrollment by 45 students.  




Increased fall net revenue by $2.5M with financial aid leveraging and training.  With current retention increased revenue over 4 years by $8.2M.  Increased events and revised script for info sessions, and revised all essential business practices.  Analyzed marketing spend and revised ads, distribution, and spend.  Re-organized staffing responsibilities, developed goals and hired new VPEM.  Enrollment is currently up and the university is stronger than ever.  The new president is in place and graduate programs are growing on-site.  In fact, they have recently added a new program.  They continue to monitor the situation, follow the implementation policies and keep in touch regularly with good news.

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