Professional Path Project
As a financial aid professional for the past two decades, I have come to realize that my mission in life is serving others. While the financial aid professionals are the ones to take the brunt of students’ animosity, I believe it is only a few of us who remain in this industry for so long because we love serving students as they receive their college degrees. Initially, I wanted to utilize my Master’s in Enrollment Management to help move up in my current professional career path but unfortunately, I am noticing that many upper administration college leaders are not in touch with internal conditions, particularly those that involve incremental changes on the effect of retention rates regarding future financial aid funding to institutions as well as strategies to assist first year generation students. Unfortunately, it is their lack of awareness and failure to adapt to the new shifts occurring which can lead to enrollment worries. Therefore, I plan on stepping out on faith and set my sights on becoming an enrollment manager.
Professional Path Project
As a first-generation low-income college student, I can recall my first semester where I wanted to leave school due to homesickness, lack of social life, and not comprehending the professor’s requirements to pass the class. It has been proven that a student’s organizational level and academic commitment can severely affect their performance during the freshman years and that these factors can positively affect persistence and retention. When institutions are dedicated to providing campus services that ensure strong academic outcomes for these “at risk” students, the institutions turn their attention off the effects of persistence and attrition in the ever changing demographics of student enrollment. For the past two decades, I have worked in the Financial Aid department five different institutions whether public, private, or for-profit and my experiences at all colleges confirms that higher education institutions need to grasp a better hand on the first year students which is the reason I have changed my professional path from financial aid to enrollment management in order to assist in the development, implementation and analysis of a strategic plan that will include establishing enrollment goals based on an analysis of student success, market research, and demographic data and design strategies that will aid in the recruitment and retention of a culturally diverse student population.
A curriculum vita refers to a document that describes an academic’s educational background and professional experience (Houston, 2010). It is similar to a professional resume but it is geared to a prospective employee’s academic prowess. The purpose of the CV is to give educators the opportunity to display their education, employment, teaching experience, published works and service learning experience. As a potential enrollment manager in higher education, I am including my Curriculum vitae in this paper (see Appendix A).
Overview of Professional Experience
In my twenty-three years in the financial aid profession, I have watched many of my colleagues retire after numerous decades in the same initial position without promotion or some have even suffered mental breakdowns. After returning to school to receive my Masters’ in Human Services with a concentration in youth counseling in 2009, I saw a whole new world of postsecondary education; a world that I wanted assist first year generation students on their educational path through ensuring that their persistence level increases. These are the students who come to me for advice about a course or life in general and they touch my heart and these are the ones who make me want push for additional solutions in helping them graduate.
My professional goal is to be employed at a Historically Black College and University as Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management by 2015. The Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management would most likely report to the Provost or Vice President of Academic Affairs and provide support and leadership for the Offices of Registrar, Admissions, Academic Advising and Financial Aid. I chose to work in a HBCU institution because many of the students attending these colleges are first year generation students whose parents have not attended college, whose family environment may not be conducive to thriving, and whose ultimate goal is to contribute positively to society via education. In order for any campus to succeed, enrollment managers must focus their efforts on the leadership of senior staff as well as develop a successful learning community that must have a team approach of both academic and student services. I would need to possess skills in leadership, planning, development, budgeting and institutional strategies for marketing recruitment and retention.
Having received my Bachelor’s Degree in business management as well as managing a household for the past twenty years, I believe this adds significant value to my future position in senior management position as Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management. In addition to the two decades of financial aid skills and knowledge, this will definitely give me an advantage over individuals who lack financial aid experience. Combining marketing, recruitment, admissions and retention strategies, financial aid is instrumental in achieving a college’s enrollment size each semester, diversity, and academic programs to name a few. Therefore, enrollment managers must not only have to understand the use of financial aid as a means to achieve enrollment goals but they must constantly and continuously participate in informing the campus of the role and impact of the financial aid on the institution.
“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged and increased constantly, or it vanishes,” Peter Drucker (slideshare.net, 2012, p. 2), one of the world’s premier management leaders, once said. Since the field of higher education is ever-changing, it is important for efficient enrollment managers to embody core competencies that will allow them to lead their institution to success in the midst of prosperity, in the midst of trials and most definitely, in the midst of change. The correlation of core competencies in the area of leadership, enrollment management, and adult learning and student services will be discussed.
According to Jim Black (2004), enrollment managers have access to data that can transform or influence mindsets, business practices, strategic decisions and institutional priorities (2001). “Effective leaders help generate vital and viable organizations that can develop and mobilize into new visionary roles in today’s modern society” (slideshare.net, 2012, p.6). Enrollment management, as defined by Hossler (2000), is an “organizational concept and a systematic set of activities designed to enable educational institutions to exert more influence over their student enrollments” (p. 5). These activities include marketing and recruitment strategies; implementing creative ways of financing and developing courses geared to the diverse population of the school community. In this sense, the diverse population reflects upon foreign students, first year generation students and non-traditional students. Enrollment managers need to have the niche of negotiation in order to satisfy the needs of their institution most important customer – the student.
Dr. Phyllis Grummon (2012) discussed how Historically Black Colleges and Universities face the same set of issues similar to other higher education in the United States. She mentions how the HBCUs face a challenge in how to establish and maintain their primary identity as institutions focused on the educational attainment of African-Americans when many campuses are competing for those same students. It is in this instance where an enrollment manager must realize they need to have commitment to community and transforming lives. Their community consists of the entire institution, not just the students. They should also be expected to transform the lives of their staff members by encouraging them to achieve higher goals. Transformation in some instances may mean moving certain people out of their box through the method of job rotation. The more complacent people become, the less likely they are going to push themselves towards advancement. In this way the leadership roles may be divided among all members of the institution. These individuals know successful enrollment leaders have to be on the cutting edge of marketing and recruitment in order to enhance a student’s persistence. They have a thorough understanding of their institution and most definitely a realistic analysis of the competitive position in which the school may fit, whether it is private, public or for-profit. Finally, they have knowledge of the current and possible future policies and practices that are enrollment related.
According to Merriam (2005), the potential for learning and development from a life event is linked to the timing of the event. Unanticipated transitions are the events that are unexpected and do not have a typical time in adult life when they are most likely to occur. Winning a lottery, developing a health problem, getting laid or fired from a job, and being a victim of a crime are examples of this type of transition. These events are likely to be stressful; at the same time, the potential for stimulating learning and subsequent development may be greater than for the more, normative life events.
With the emergence of these dislocated workers and military veterans entering colleges at a rampant rate it is extremely important that an enrollment manager understand this type of student values and demographic trends. This is where the marketing skills of an enrollment come into play. With a new dynamic of individuals entering colleges at this stage of their lives, institutions have to recognize this may the first time they have even entered the college doors. Enrollment managers should set into place specialized programs, such as military advocacy to assist the veterans who may have difficulty in retention due to post traumatic stress disorder. In this instance the enrollment manager displays the fact they have the vision to build upon an enrollment theory that reflects every stage of the enrollment process from being a prospective student to a graduating student.
Chickering and Stamm (2002) discussed how once an institution’s desired outcomes for students are fully endorsed, widely known and part of the community and aligns with the outcomes that exist among the stakeholders then those institutions would have made substantial progress toward an institutional culture that reflects an overreaching concern for civic engagement and social responsibility. At the HBCU’s, the cohesiveness of all departments is especially essential to the success of the first year students as students at these institutions are scrutinized much more than students in other colleges due to the double edge sword.
The student services division commonly consists of the admissions, academic advising and financial aid departments. These are the service-oriented departments as they are expected to exemplify extraordinary customer service to the students. Enrollment managers need to ensure that the best marketing strategies are set in place to make the institution appear more appealing to students as well as basically guarantee the retention and graduation of these students. In this sense, the admissions office is integral as enrollment managers should have in place recruitment members who will definitely market the best of their institution. The advising department’s central role is to counsel students appropriately on their journey toward graduation. The advising department is considered the retention guru in the eyes of many faculty members; and therefore, the brunt of blame and criticism is bored upon this department. As a result, the enrollment manager should have knowledge of student development theory and practice, especially critical to retention issues. The office of financial aid is responsible for the administering, monitoring and reviewing of federal and state funding to students. The enrollment manager should not simply depend on the expertise of the financial aid director because since dealing with federal money and the ever-changing world of financial aid, it is essential for the enrollment manager to have experience in financial aid in order to discuss financial issues with the Board of Trustees, Board of Regents or owners of an institution.
Impact of Trends in Higher Education on the Competencies
With the new financial aid regulation enacted last fall regarding students who are close to losing their Pell awards due to enrolling in many colleges throughout their postsecondary education journey, enrollment managers would have to devise clever programs to ensure the retention and graduation of many of these students who may be close to graduation. In the state of Georgia, the raises of college presidents will be based upon the retention and graduation rate at the end of each year; therefore, unfortunately this is giving more reason to have enrollment managers collaborate with the advising and financial offices in order to increase the salary of their president. As I mentioned previously, there are many military individuals returning home and enrolling in college. While many of these individuals will receive educational benefits for their military service, colleges are conducting round table discussions on making the education journey easier for these individuals by hiring VA coordinators, personal counselors and safe area for the veterans to visit to discuss their concerns.
After working almost two decades in various facets in financial aid departments, I will be walking out on Faith and begin my journey to become an enrollment manager in higher education. I truly believe my mission on earth is to serve others and while I have exhibited exemplary service to students regarding their finances, it is time for me to move a step forward and out of my comfort zone to continue serving the students in another field of higher education. My experiences at all prior and current employers confirm that higher education institutions must get a better hand on the retaining first year students and the following section will detail my plans to assist them when I become an Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management.
Career Goal Identification
My professional goal is to work in higher education in the role of Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. The Associate Vice President would report to the Provost or Vice President of Academic Affairs and provide support and leadership to the Registrar, Admissions, Advising and Financial Aid departments. In order for any campus to be successful, enrollment mangers must focus their efforts on the leadership of senior staff members. A well motivated, well-managed staff is the key to the success of ANY organization.
In “Research and Practice of Student Retention: What Next?” Tinto (2006) discussed student retention and how the antiquated ideas have surfaced into the new century where many institutions speak boldly and fondly on the importance of increasing student retention, but do not take student retention seriously. As the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, my goals within the structure of the institution would to make a concerted effort to bring colleagues together who normally do not interact on a daily basis. In bringing together different types of people with different concerns in a group setting shows a community moving toward a specific goal and in my case, student retention. Student retention of first year generation students is a major problem at institutions across the country but the retention of students at HBCU’s is a very sore subject.
Type of Educational Institution Targeted
My professional goal is to be employed as Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). I chose this type of institution because as a first year generation student from Harlem, NYC, I have firsthand knowledge in pitfalls that many first year students experience prior to attending college, which only places doubts in their heads instead of encouragement.
Action Plan: Next Steps
Realizing that I have limited knowledge of a senior management position, I believe it is extremely important for me to network among my peers as well as find a mentor to guide me toward the right direction of obtaining the position of Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at a Historically Black College and University. I recently became a member of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). The mission of ACPA is to support and foster college students learning through the generation and dissemination of knowledge, which informs policies, practices, and programs for student affair professionals and the higher education community. This organization will benefit me in the Enrollment Management profession as I begin focusing on the competency areas such as helping; assessment and evaluation and research; law, policy and governance; and student development and learning. While obtaining a Masters’ in Enrollment Management in 2015 would help me get a foot in the door of any institution, I believe completing a PhD in Education would allow me to be a more viable and competitive candidate as an Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management.
Summary and Reflection
In recent weeks two HBCUs announced they will be closing at the end of the year and another one is in danger of being closed after more than a hundred of years in existence due to mismanagement. This news was extremely disturbing to me as these students deserve much better from upper administration. I truly believe bringing twenty years of financial aid expertise into the enrollment management field could possibly prevent another one of these institutions from failing while allowing me to assist in the development, implementation and analysis of a strategic plan that will include establishing enrollment goals based on an analysis of student success, market research, and demographic data and design strategies that will aid in the recruitment and retention of a culturally diverse student population.
Enrollment managers are considered the nucleus of any institution. The efficient ones realize they have to operate on multiple levels. An effective and successful enrollment manager surrounds themselves with individuals who talents are brought out to enhance the core competencies. As a result, the enrollment manager must know how to link the various departments and determine the importance on how each impact enrollment, net revenue, student experiences and institutional image. Enrollment managers also study the market place to get an inkling of their competition as well as develop a niche to recruit prospective students, retain current students and graduate future scholars. The more knowledge an enrollment manager understands about the characteristics, attitudes, and values of their students, the better they can implement successful recruitment programs.
American College Personnel Association (2013). Retrieved from http://www.2myacpa.org.
Black, J. (2004). Defining enrollment management: The political frame. College and University, 80(2). 43-44.
Chickering, A.W., & Stamm, L. (2002). Making our purposes clear. About Campus, 7(2), 30.
Grummon, P.T.H. (2012). Issues facing historically black colleges and universities: Results of a focused discussion and survey. Retrieved from http://www.scup.org/asset/60320/Issues%20Facing%20HBCUs.pdf
Hossler, D. (2000). The role of financial aid in enrollment management. New Directions for Student Services, 89. 77-90.
Houston, N. (2010). Creating and maintaining your CV. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/creatingmaintaining-your-cv/26887.
Merriam, S.B. (2005). How adult life transitions foster learning and development. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, (108), 3-13.
Rodriguez, P., & Williams, R. (2012). Qualities of effective leadership: Principles of Peter F. Drucker. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/par913/qualities-of- effective-leaderships. Tinto, V. (2006). Research and practice of student retention: What next? Journal of College Student Retention, 8 (1). 1-20.
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