12 things chief enrollment officers say about their role

The role of chief enrollment officers is complex due to increasing pressure, yet many who responded to a recent survey say they feel optimistic about the future of their position.

A survey from Witt/Kieffer sheds a light on the intensifying pressure chief enrollment officers face from institution presidents, provosts, colleagues, and departments such as student affairs and marketing.

It finds that a majority of the 137 chief enrollment officers surveyed say they are ready to face the increased expectations of the position–83 percent of those surveyed are optimistic about the future of the enrollment profession, and 64 percent say they plan to stay in the enrollment field.

Chief enrollment officers’ main goal is to find the best match and right number of students for their specific institution, but this task is complicated by a shrinking student pool, the need to please a wide range of stakeholders, the relative newness of the profession, and the wide range of skills needed to satisfy the growing challenges accompanying the profession.


So you want to improve teaching & learning in your classrooms through innovation?

Change is hard.

Effective, targeted, measurable, and sustainable change within education can seem almost impossible—especially when institutions are large, resources are stretched thin, teachers are swamped, and the needs of any one community, classroom, or student are unique.

But it’s not impossible, and I have a success story to share—a story I’ll begin telling you here and complete little by little in the columns that will follow.

I started teaching college physics about 20 years ago, and like most new teachers, I taught much like I had been taught. What’s more, I taught in classrooms that looked much like they had for many years before my time as a student. And, for almost a decade, it worked well. Everything seemed to say that I was doing a good job.

Jumping ahead to today, my pedagogy has changed dramatically, the classrooms I teach in look nothing like I could have imagined 20 years ago, and the kinds of activities, conversations, and interactions that go on in my classes are light years from where they were. But that process of change extends well beyond me. What started as a process of change for a small group of faculty and researchers has grown into a broad network of nested and interconnected communities that share the goals of improving teaching and learning through innovation while developing tools and resources to support both.

Becoming an agent for change
That process of change is important. Systemic change and innovation don’t happen by chance, and while the blueprint my colleagues and I followed isn’t the only recipe that can work, it can be a powerful model for effective and sustainable change. Importantly, there are four underlying principles.


The app that puts college within reach of Dreamers

According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 65,000 undocumented students graduate every year from high school. But too many of them are thwarted from pursuing higher education because they don’t qualify for federal student aid.

In 2008, Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca was one of those teenage students. She came to the U.S. with her family when she was four, studied diligently, and dreamed of getting a degree as a first-generation college graduate. But without a Social Security number, she was ineligible for government assistance and felt “hopeless and lost.”

After working at cash-only jobs to pay for some college classes, then dropping out to support her family, she was able to obtain a social security number under the DACA program and was named a Champion of Change by the White House. In 2015, she won the Voto Latino Innovators Challenge to solve a community problem with technology.

Drawing on her painful experience of being turned away from college, she came up with DREAMer’s Roadmap, an app that helps DACA students find scholarship money for higher education. She won first place, received $100,000 in prize money to build the app, and launched on April 13, 2016.

With DREAMer’s Roadmap, undocumented students can find accurate information on financial aid available across the country in one easy-to-use mobile app—something that Salamanca wishes she had had when applying to college, instead of having to go through cumbersome lists of scholarships one at a time. “Everything is accessible to anyone who has a smartphone. All the information is now at their fingertips,” she says.


10 ways your campus can support first-generation students

With college accessibility front and center, many institutions are actively seeking ways to support first-generation college students, and a new report sheds light on some promising practices to support this growing group.

The report from NASPA and The Suder Foundation aims to offer a comprehensive look at the best practices among colleges and universities supporting first-generation students.

While 80 percent of four-year institutions identify first-generation status upon admission, many aren’t doing enough to support first-generation students when they come to campus.

“First-generation students now make up a third of students nationwide, yet only 27 percent will earn a bachelor’s degree within four years of entering college, lagging far behind their continuing-generation peers,” says Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “While we know first-generation students are capable and making significant contributions, services for students are in flux across institutions today.”

The report shoes that institutions are inconsistent in sharing information across campus and monitoring outcomes for first-generation students–only 61 percent of four-year institutions track outcomes for these students; just 41 percent use data to inform support programs for them; and only 28 percent store information on first-generation status in systems that faculty can access and use.


Real-world learning comes to campus

Colleges and universities are enhancing undergraduate learning by combining in-class instruction with practical, real-world experiences. At Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU), freshmen and seniors can take part in two innovative programs that “bookend” their academic career, according to Mark Brodl, provost and dean of faculty.

The effort began three years ago when IWU launched its Signature Experience for seniors. “A Signature Experience is meant to be a project that may often be anchored in a clear academic discipline, but it may not necessarily be. It’s meant to look holistically at a student’s breadth of interest across their time at IWU. It’s an opportunity for them to assemble for themselves a project that pulls those components together,” says Brodl.

Self-directed learning
Students come up with proposals that draw on their interests, working with faculty members who help them find projects outside the classroom that deepen their studies. For example, IWU Biology Professor Will Jaeckle arranged for an intensive research trip to the Smithsonian Marine Station in Florida for Jamie Blumberg, a senior with an interest in viruses.

Although students can count on the counsel and mentoring of faculty, the Signature Experience is designed to have them take ownership of their learning and be independent. “We’re working hard on making sure that we’ve got the classroom experiences and the outer classroom experiences that help them build into those directions,” says Brodl.


Here’s what online learning programs do right–and here’s what they can improve

Many higher-ed institutions have put more emphasis on online learning programs due to recent student demand, and paying attention to demand for courses and training faculty can help these programs succeed.

In light of recent online learning surveys, the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) and Learning House polled higher-ed leaders to track progress and identify needed improvements in online learning programs.

The Online Learning in Continuing Higher Education report is based on a survey of more than 100 deans and directors of higher education institutions who are ACHE members.

Top challenges for ACHE members include retention (53 percent), training and recruiting faculty to teach online (47 percent), providing special services to students in need (37 percent), and identifying students in need of special services (35 percent).

ACHE members have seen a number of successes within their online offerings:

1. ACHE members will experiment with breaking down the longer degree program into smaller awards: badges (35 percent) top the list of smaller awards, by microdegrees (30 percent) and certificate programs (26 percent).


This college opened a one-of-a-kind AI lab

What if a special lab at the University of Rhode Island (URI) could educate the community on the ethical, technological, and social consequences of artificial intelligence (AI)?

That’s what Karim Boughida, dean of the URI Libraries, is counting on with a unique AI lab in the Robert L. Carothers Library at URI.

Students, faculty members, state officials, business people, and community members can all use the lab for answers. And although AI labs have been around for decades, this is the first-of-its-kind in a common area, open to the public.

The lab’s goals are two-fold:

  1. Students can use it to create cutting-edge projects, such as robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) for smart cities to help with traffic flow, for example. It can also teach about AI’s impact in politics. For example, students can learn how to create a fake news algorithm on social media—like when a hacker creates a virus—and influence an election, or how to create an algorithm to counter fake news to stop it from spreading on social media.
  2. Faculty, businesses, and the community can use it to explore ethical, economic, and even artistic implications of emerging technologies. “We want to emphasize the role of ethics in terms of understanding and how we implement decision-making in the future,” says Boughida. For example, truck drivers may be out of a job in 20 years or so, due to self-driving vehicles.

How the lab operates
Funded by a $143,065 grant from the Champlin Foundation, the lab has a Nvidia supercomputer as its centerpiece. It includes software-focused makerspaces and design-thinking labs, creating a multidisciplinary environment that’s rare in academic buildings, Boughida says.


Here’s how to build a student-centered university

Higher-ed leaders have to change the lens through which they view students if they hope to create learner-centered universities–and part of that change starts with segmentation.

Student segmentation involves using survey results and data to “segment” students in order to build new academic offerings and personalize campus services. This is where leaders can begin the process to better align a higher-ed institution with learn, according to The Future of Learners, just released by Pearson and higher education expert Jeff Selingo.

Students coming to campus in the 2020s will be more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before, and these Gen Z students will have different expectations for campus services, instruction, and technology.

Because these students are more vocal about what they want and expect, institution leaders can leverage the data from digital survey tools to start tailoring educational experiences to students’ preferences.

Segmentation isn’t new, but it hasn’t gained widespread adoption, and the report argues that colleges and universities should work to adopt it throughout their institutions.


Here’s an innovative way to help students handle stress

Depression on campus is an ongoing issue that colleges must face. According to the American College Health Association, the number of students who report ever being diagnosed with depression has more than doubled since 2000, from 10 percent to 22 percent in the spring of  2017.

But Dr. Paul Granello, an associate professor of counselor education at Ohio State University (OSU), is trying to turn those numbers around with his creation, the Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) Lab. “We keep losing people to suicide on college campuses around this country,” he says. “The stress of the college student has gone up significantly.”

An idea is born
A few years ago, Granello, whose wife is an OSU professor who counsels students in the college’s suicide prevention program, was looking for additional ways to prevent suicide. Treatment programs for anxiety and depression had been sufficient, he says, but preventative programs—before students get to crisis mode—were lacking. So Granello developed a SMART lab that pairs wellness coaching with biofeedback. The biofeedback, provided by HeartMath, offers scientifically based tools and technologies to empower students to self-regulate their emotions and behaviors to reduce stress and unlock intuition.

The lab, which cost $10,000 to create, has served more than 700 students since it opened in 2017. It is housed in the Physical Activity and Education Service building and is open 21 hours per week. When students visit, they use computers and Heart Math’s emWave Pro devices, which have sensors that measure heart-rate variability or gaps between heartbeats.

Nine students, including four doctoral students, operate the lab, which is a collaboration of the Department of Educational Studies and OSU Student Life. “The lab trains people in stress management and resiliency skills,” says Granello. “It’s a nice way to show students they are making progress.”


Does your college have a math concierge?

The Math Emporium, located on the campus of Rio Salado College in Phoenix, Arizona, is an informal, cafe-style study and practice space to help students navigate basic math. But that’s not all. The emporium is staffed by a math “concierge” who acts as tutor, small-group presenter, and coach.

As with many community colleges, some Rio Salado students tend to be older than the average college student and/or some left high school early, so they have little memory or knowledge of math concepts. “Less than 20 percent of students can get into and pass a college-level math class,” says John Jensen, faculty chair of mathematics. “A lot of them need practice with lower-level and developmental math; they simply lost [the knowledge] due to lack of use.”

Rather than letting those students get stuck in remedial classes that might block them from reaching higher academic goals, the college decided to try something new.

Coffee and calculations
Other universities, such as Virginia Tech, have math help sites, but Rio Salado’s approach is unique. Five years ago, Jensen imagined a cafe concept for a help center—informal, without the typical chairs and desks in rows, but where students could grab a latte, sit down, and work with someone who Jensen calls a math concierge—to learn or re-learn math concepts. The concierge will also schedule small group tutoring as needed.

In addition to the face-to-face help, students do lessons, watch videos, and take placement practice tests from EdReady. They start with an online assessment and, based on that, EdReady provides a personalized course of study. A dashboard tells students what they have mastered and have yet to master. “We offer a mixture of tech and human help,” Jensen says. “The math concierge is simply there to help like a hotel concierge. It’s very informal, and we hope a very inviting environment.”