From The Yield, Fall 2014
Jerry Lucido is professor of research at the Rossier School of Education, and executive director of the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice, and Special Advisor to the Provost at the University of Southern California.His areas of expertise include college admissions, higher education access, and enrollment management.
Tell us about the work of your center – its founding, focus, initiatives.
I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to highlight some of the work of the center and appreciate the productive partnership that we’ve begun with SSATB. The USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice was founded to explore and contribute to the societal benefit of enrollment policies and practices in higher education. These include how the recruitment and selection processes of the admission office operate, the swiftly moving trajectory of organization-wide enrollment management (including admission, financial aid, student persistence, internal and external communications and marketing, and organizational leadership), and the creation of strong college-going cultures in K-12 education. As with other centers or institutes in higher education, we do research, we teach, and we provide community service in these areas.
One of our key initiatives is the preparation of future leaders in enrollment management through a rigorous online certificate program in Leadership in Enrollment Management. This is where the interests of independent schools and the work of our center coincide. Your education sector is now experiencing similar market conditions and similar pressures for institutional sustainability to those existing in higher education. Moreover, the transition from admission as a central focus to organization-wide enrollment management, which is fully in place in higher education, has begun in earnest in independent schools. The current conditions you face will speed up that change.
Who/what was the impetus behind the development and establishment of the online certification program for enrollment managers?
I had the privilege of leading enrollment efforts at three major universities – University of Southern California, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and University of Arizona. In doing so, I saw many talented professionals leave the field or not fully grasp the educational value that their positions provided for their institutions or society. I also found that many of my colleagues felt similarly. In discussions with many of them, we concluded that there needed to be a mechanism to educate a new generation of leaders in the intricacies, the responsibilities, and the rewards of this new field. With the center located in USC’s Rossier School of Education, we had the ideal platform to launch the program.
Quite frankly, there is a new and growing body of research in this area, an expanding set of responsibilities and necessary skills, and strong enrollment leaders now have much greater institutional influence, and more senior level positions, than ever before. There are extremely limited opportunities to do concentrated preparation for this field, and we created the program to fill this need.
Describe how the program is structured and delivered. How many professionals have been served?
The program is designed for working admission and enrollment professionals, so it is fully online. Its innovative platform allows for TED-style talks and readings to be viewed, for discussion questions and assignments to be completed, and for interaction with faculty members and fellow participants all online, at a time that is convenient to the participant, and taking only five to seven hours per week. We limit the size of each group to keep interaction strong and to allow for digital identities to grow for each of our students. We have served two full cohorts of approximately 15 each and are enrolling our third as this is published.
What are your key lessons to date about online education and about the professional training needs of enrollment managers?
First, we’ve learned that very good people go into admission and enrollment management but that they receive very little formal training. Indeed, our program attracts professionals who have masters and doctoral degrees, but who confess that they really need formal training to rise in the profession and to serve their institutions well. They often lack understanding of communication mechanisms, how to manage staff and resources, how to be a flexible, trusted, and confident leader on campus, and how to collect and analyze information to make critical decisions and to handle trade-offs. Next, we’ve learned that an online platform that has high standards and that is available to fit into a busy schedule will yield success. Our participants stay with and complete the program.
How might the independent school admission community benefit from such training? Are there specific course offerings targeted to independent school enrollment professionals?
The parallels between independent school admission and enrollment management and its higher education counterparts are remarkable (and predictable). You face a dwindling market of well-qualified, full-paying candidates. You seek diversity and talent broadly. You face financial pressures that require you to keep the students you attract, use student aid wisely and effectively, and seek new markets wherever they may be. You want a sustainable program that bodes well for the future of your school, its students, your alumni, and your faculty. The real difference in the two sectors is the fact that independent schools are only now coming to see the importance of full-school enrollment planning and management. Colleges and universities have elevated enrollment management to an organizing principle in strategic plans and enrollment leaders to senior leadership positions. That is the future for independent schools.
In response, our center is working to adapt the certificate program we offer to the needs of independent school professionals. Indeed, we may try a pilot program this fall by admitting a cohort of independent school professionals to the current program and allowing them to work together to adapt the content to their own issues and problems. This will enable us to truly refine the program for a future offering that is exclusively for independent schools. If you are interested in being part of this pilot and in working side-by-side with leaders from higher education, please contact me directly. My contact information is directly below.
Jerome A. Lucido
Professor of Research, USC Rossier School of Education
Executive Director, USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice