Student success is everyone’s job

“To help students succeed, we need to think beyond the single moment in time where we’re interacting with them,” said Tricia Seifert, Associate Professor in the Adult & Higher Education program at Montana State University (MSU). “We need to think about how we’re helping them on their entire journey -- starting with prospective students in high schools and middle schools and continuing on into students’ lives as employees and citizens.”

Strategic enrollment management (SEM) can help underpin this kind of expansive thinking in higher education. But SEM only works when everyone on campus understands that they have a role in student success.

“SEM can help break down the barrier between higher education and careers and communities,” Seifert said.

One key to SEM implementation is helping employees understand that although their interaction with a student may be circumscribed by a discrete function in the student’s academic life--for example, recruiting high school seniors into a first-year class or registering students for courses--their role is part of a much broader student success continuum. And student success is, in fact, everyone’s responsibility.

According to Seifert, there are a number of ways to implement this message across campus, including:

  1. Visioning exercises at a divisional level, which may require revising mission statements at university division levels or individual department levels.

  2. Providing comprehensive professional development opportunities for staff members.

  3. As leaders, intentionally connecting professionals in different departments to help everyone get on board.

As an illustration, Seifert described how MSU hosts various secondary school events on their campus, such as FFA events and the Science Olympiad.

“These are opportunities for students to see themselves as college material,” she said. “In this instance, how do we in our individual and collective roles help students see themselves as university bound? Beyond that, how do we reconnect with them as alumni in their careers and communities?”

Join Seifert at this fall’s AACRAO SEM Conference, where she will present a plenary on this topic, and also see her recent SEM Quarterly article “Paddling with Purpose: Perceptions of Student Success and Retention Efforts.” She will discuss the varying experiences of SEM professionals using transactional versus transformational approaches, followed by an interview with Stan Henderson and Susan Gottheil. The 2017 SEM Conference will be held Oct. 29-Nov. 1 in Phoenix, Arizona. Register now.