Managing Enrollment Bandits: Recovering Enrollments Lost During Registration

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2009


Good enrollment managers know that keeping current enrollment must be Job Number One and that maintaining enrollment must be the concern of all campus constituencies. However, a large number of students are "lost" during registration due to closed classes. Lost enrollments are a largely invisible phenomenon that represents frantic and frustrated students attempting to build desired schedules. But when the desired schedule does not prove possible, scores or even hundreds of students may exit the system. As several institutional offices affect and are affected by this issue, no single office may be configured either administratively or operationally to recover "walk-away" registrations. The result is a decidedly negative impact on retention, revenue, headcount, and graduation rates. Some years ago, Kennesaw State University (KSU) developed a successful means of identifying and tracking "at risk" registrants during the registration period; such students were those who unknowingly "hit" on closed classes. KSU's approach is designed to recover walk-aways by identifying and communicating with affected students and by involving relevant campus constituencies in opening new courses. The operational philosophy pursed by the KSU Office of Admissions is one of traditional admission, recruitment, and enrollment services functions overlaid with an array of 24 x 7 electronic, Web-savvy tools. At most institutions, the admissions office is held accountable for application numbers, acceptances, and yield. Questions concerning overall enrollment numbers typically drift toward the admissions office. As at most institutions, enrollment at KSU primarily comprises returning students. While attrition through any means is an enrollment services concern, cases involving students who attempt to enroll but who are turned away because of closed classes are particularly discouraging. Whether closed classes affect new or returning students, these losses have a negative impact on overall enrollment. KSU utilizes a tool called the "Tried Report" to identify students who attempt to register for closed courses. Developed originally for telephone registration, the concept has been adapted for Web registration. Perhaps most important, the university administration enabled this tool to be used as part of an enrollment management program for recovering lost enrollments. This article describes how KSU uses the Tried Report, as well as the Lost Enrollment Action Plan, to address the issue of lost enrollments. Along with the information provided by Tried Reports, the "Lost Enrollment Action Plan" provides a proactive means of identifying and alleviating the issues relating to closed classes. At many institutions, academic officials act on the basis of fragmented and incomplete information. Tried Reports provide a daily source of information that anticipates closed classes. This enrollment management approach helps increase administrators' and students' confidence in the professionalism of enrollment services officers.

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