November 20, 2017 | Higher Education, enrollment management

    AACRAO 2017: Planning and Forecasting Enrollments

    A challenge facing higher education institutions is looking into the future and properly forecasting enrollments. However, finding a unified solution is closer than you think.  

    My colleague Susie Chang and I visited sunny Phoenix to attend AACRAO's Strategic Enrollment Management Conference this Halloween. We had the pleasure of meeting with Enrollment Managers, Student Success Coaches, Academics, Registrars, and others to hear about common challenges they faced. Forecasting enrollments was one we heard again and again. 


     This challenge wasn't unique to any particular type of institution, and it certainly wasn't a challenge that only one part of the institution faced. From recruitment to student success to graduation through career placement services and advancement, all of these areas felt the pain of forecasting. They all believed the solution to this problem was a new tool that would meet all of their needs.  Complicating the issue is that everyone had a different spin on this challenge and believed a custom solution would have to be used to solve it.

     In reality, the solution is something you have already - data! Once you understand your institution's data and can make it actionable, forecasting future enrollments becomes a solvable challenge because you have a strong understanding of past and present enrollments. 

    How do you use your understanding of past enrollments to forecast the future? First, you should identify the purpose of your forecast: Are you planning courses or creating revenue projections? Are you finding resource constraints or planning new projects or initiatives? Having a clear understanding of the purpose of your forecast will help you identify the best path forward.

    The next step is to create a plan. You might want to segment enrollments around coursework or degrees, if you’re planning courses, or group together enrollments with like financial behavior, if you’re projecting revenue. You should also review trends in your enrollments and look back over the last few semesters or years to learn how your enrollments vary over time.

    Finally, start planning for the future! Use your institution’s past and present enrollments to make tweaks to how you recruit and enroll future students. After you make your changes, dive back into your data again and learn how they impacted your institution’s enrollments. Learn, tweak, and review!

    At the end of the day, the solution to the challenge of forecasting enrollments is maximizing the effectiveness of one of the largest resources at your fingertips …your data! What was needed all along was right in front of you. If you would like more information on how HelioCampus can help make your data understandable and actionable, contact us for a demo

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