ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY
ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT PLAN
April 5, 1999
Table of Contents
Enrollment Management Defined
External Scan: Demographic Projections Relative to St. Cloud State University
Implications for Recruitment
Internal Scan: Institutional Issues
University Mission and Vision
II. RECRUITMENT TARGETS
Establishing Targets for Student Recruitment
Recruiting to Meet Targets for Undergraduate Students
Core Strategies for Attracting Students
Improvements to Core Recruitment Strategies
Attracting a Better Prepared Cohort
Recruiting Students of Color
Recruiting Transfer Students
Other Office of Admissions Requirements
III. STUDENT PERSISTENCE/SUCCESS: RETENTION
Keys to Retention
Current Status of SCSU Retention Projects
Improvements to Retention Programs
Students in Transition
Retention of Selected Groups
Student Employment Mentoring
Retention Management Council
The enrollment Management Committee has developed a plan designed to achieve a new and/or re-dedicated vision toward student success. The purpose of this plan is:
- To bring to the campus students who enroll in numbers adequate to meet institutional needs and aspirations, and in characteristics consistent with its mission;
- To provide programs and services for these students that ensure their progress toward the degree to the maximum extent that their interest and abilities will allow; and
- To provide a curriculum and services which contribute to the academic success and timely graduation of students; and
- To create the environment and programs within which those students will become active alumni and supporters of St. Cloud State University.
The plan is broken into four segments including: recruitment targets, recruitment strategies, retention and academic success. The plan also speaks to the needs for better institutional research that is a need in many aspects of campus life.
The committee reviewed a Minnesota based study of pertinent populations statistics. The research projects several trends relative to recruitment at SCSU including:
- An increasing high school pool and therefore increasing new entering students;
- Increasing demand for a baccalaureate and therefore for state university programs;
- Increased competition for students from neighboring states;
- Increased competition within Minnesota due to the wide array of choices for students;
- An increased minority proportion; and
- An increasing importance of the Twin Cities area for all colleges.
The committee focused on the university mission and vision. The Mission Statement was formally revised as a part of the North Central Association accreditation visit in 1996. The vision statement was developed by the Office of University Communications and is not a formal, university document. The principles in these documents guided the setting of targets for recruitment for new entering first year and transfer students. It is intended that achieving a new character of the undergraduate student cohort will in some great part contribute to the university achieving its mission and vision statements.
The document contains seventy-seven specific recommendations. The committee hopes to obtain feedback from the campus community with a focus on the Strategic Planning Committee. The conversation designed to achieve that feedback is not intended to occur in specific segments but to continue over the next few semesters. During this time certain of the recommendations will be begun, some revised, some evaluated and changed. It is intended that the conversation will be an important, ongoing part of reorienting the university toward student success.
The recommendations on Recruitment Targets speak to the size and character of the student body. The recommendations are designed to achieve a student body of 15,500 by recruiting 2,400 new entering first year students and 1,300 transfer students each year. Within these targets the recommendations envision:
- 3 National Merit Finalists
- 12% as Top 10% students
- 25% Top 25% students
- 7% minority students by 2000 and 12% by 2003
- 900 international students
- 300 Division of General Studies Students
The plan does not speak to specific roles for Continuing Education or the role of Graduate Studies at this time. The committee believes that these are important issues which should be addressed in the Fall semester 1999.
The section on Recruitment Strategies discusses the successful program in place which have achieved 2,430 (projected) students, 3 National Merit Finalists each of the past three years and 6.7% (projected) minority students. The plan suggests that to remain competitive, especially in preparing for a downturn in traditional aged students at the end of the next decade, the university will need investments in core strategies. In addition, the plan speaks to significant investments in minority student recruitment and talented student recruitment.
A section on Retention discusses a strategy whereby the university makes a conscious decision to be more intrusive in a student's career designed to insure student success. The plan speaks to an earlier intervention for career orientation, adopting an advising plan, better tracking students and addressing student transitions beyond the first year. The plan sets a goal of achieving and maintaining 80% retention from the first to second year of a student's career.
A section on Student Success speaks to curricular issues that affect student success. The first issue is a need to define success and the plan recommends having students define their aspirations, formally, in their first year. The advising center would be assigned responsibility to interact with students surrounding these goals. The second approach is to focus on curricular availability and alignment. Specific recommendations are made which are designed to focus resources on course availability to allow students to complete their programs in as efficient a curricular process as possible. Alignment speaks to what programs are offered and specific recommendations are made to this end.
The following plan is detailed and comprehensive. The committee recognizes that as such it will be difficult for the reader and ambitious for the university. Nonetheless, the committee believes that the intended outcome, the success of the student and therefore their university, demands no less.
A. Enrollment Management Defined
Enrollment management is commonly described as a coordinated effort of a college or university to influence the size and characteristics of the institution's student body. This is accomplished through the development and implementation of strategies that address all stages of students' involvement with the institution including admission, enrollment, persistence to graduation and transition to alumni status. A successful enrollment management plan helps students to complete their academic program and assists with the transition from school to life after graduation whether the student chooses employment in an appropriate career field or enrollment in post-baccalaureate education.
The purpose of enrollment management at St. Cloud State University should be:
- to bring to the campus students who enroll in numbers adequate to meet institutional needs and aspirations, and in characteristics consistent with its mission;
- to provide programs and services for these students that ensure their progress toward the degree to the maximum extent that their interest and abilities will allow;
- to provide a curriculum and services which contribute to the academic success and timely graduation of students;
- and to create the environment and programs within which those students will become active alumni and supporters of St. Cloud State University.
Enrollment management is a difficult undertaking, particularly at a large, complex organization. In fact, over 50% of institutions that try to establish an enrollment management process fail to do so (AIR, 1992). At the heart of every successful enrollment management process is a commitment on the part of all faculty and staff to work together to ensure student success-something that is difficult to achieve at large, inherently complex institutions
Experience from other institutions also suggests that successful enrollment management programs are based on information systems that provide research and data including:
- Performance Measures. Specific measures used to track and evaluate the implementation and success of well defined enrollment management programs and achievements relative to institutional goals and to compared to institutions we consider to be our peers; and
- Policy Research and Analysis-research and analysis activities that assist with the development of appropriate strategies for achieving the goals associated with the enrollment management process.
Finally, institutions that have successfully implemented enrollment management programs assert that external scanning helps to ensure that strategic development is consistent with significant trends and environmental demands.
B. External Scan: Demographic Projections Relative to St. Cloud State University
Successful recruitment of students will depend on relevant demographic trends and a competent understanding of their meaning for recruitment. Recently, MnSCU engaged Dr. Hazel Reinhardt, former state demographer, in a study of the metropolitan area, which included consideration of St. Cloud State University as pertains to the metropolitan region. Many of the pertinent demographic trends are discussed in her report "Metro Area Academic Plan," January 1998.
The good news for St. Cloud is that high school graduates in Minnesota are projected to increase from 60,962 in 1998 to 66,258 in 2008 for an increase of 8.6%, with over one-half that growth occurring by 2002.
Within the statewide high school graduation data Reinhardt points to a shift from greater Minnesota to the Twin Cities with greater Minnesota decreasing from 32,877 graduates in 1998 to 30,606 in 2008. During that period graduates in the Twin Cities will increase from 28,085 to 35,652.
Reinhardt discusses historic patterns of enrollment in post secondary education by previous high school graduates. She does not offer a statewide analysis. The discussion of the participation rates by Twin Cities graduates shows:
|University of Minnesota||11.6%|
|Private Colleges and Universities||8.9%|
|Private Career Schools||.6%|
Reinhardt also reports that the proportion of minority students to the entire population has increased. Statewide, the proportion has increased slightly from 6.1% in 1990 to 6.4% in 1996. In the metropolitan area the proportion has increased from 7.4% to 9.1% during that period. During the period between 1987 and 1996 the proportion of minorities to the total high school graduating class increased from 4.7% to 7.6%. Also during this period, the proportion of minorities in college enrollments increased as follows:
|University of Minnesota||7.0%||11.9%|
|Private Colleges and Universities||4.3%||7.3%|
|Private Career Schools||9.5%||18.9%|
Reinhardt projects that minorities will make up a greater proportion of the population over time. Discussing live births between 1990 and 1996 she indicates that live births for whites and Native Americans has decreased while total live births for Asian Americans and African Americans has increased. She projects an increase in public high school graduates by race as follows:
Reinhardt also discusses population projections for bordering states indicating that North Dakota and Iowa are projected to decrease while South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin are projected to increase. This issue is somewhat less of a concern to St. Cloud than other MnSCU four-year colleges, as St. Cloud has 20% or less of the total four year university population from these states. However, it is a concern since in 1996, St. Cloud enrolled 1,225 students from these states or just under 10% of the total SCSU enrollment.
Reinhardt notes a shift from full-time to part time status in higher education in Minnesota. However, she indicates that between 1987 and 1996 the part-time percent for the University of Minnesota (33.4% to 38.3%) and the State Universities (28% to 28.8%) remained roughly constant while the percentages for private colleges (+11.5%), community and technical colleges (+16.6%) and private career schools (+10.6%) increased at a much greater rate.
The issue of higher education participation rates occupies much attention in Reinhardt's report. On the one hand, she indicates that participation as measured by percent of the population with a baccalaureate degree is high in Minnesota, this may reflect a trend as opposed to a ceiling. She indicates that the metropolitan rate of 34.4% and the Minnesota rate of 28% are both higher than the national rate of 26.7%.
The study also discusses the much-reported increase in females as a percent of enrollment between 1987 and 1996. Interestingly, however, MnSCU institutions had a slighter increase (2yr +2%; state universities +1.4%) than did the University of Minnesota (+5.1%) and private career schools. (+17.4%). Private colleges experienced a slight decrease during this period.
C. Implications for Recruitment
Reinhardt suggests that the future for higher education enrollments in Minnesota will include:
- An increasing high school pool and therefore increasing new entering students;
- Increasing demand for a baccalaureate and therefore for state university programs;
- Increased competition for students from neighboring states;
- Increased competition within Minnesota due to the wide array of choices for students;
- An increased minority proportion; and
- An increasing importance of the Twin Cities area for all colleges.
D. Internal Scan: Institutional Issues
The enrollment management committee, through interviews and discussions, also identified a number of internal issues that are relevant to its work which they assert have hampered institutional effectiveness. These include:
- Less political clout in the merged system despite having the largest student body in MnSCU. Being one of 36 institutions has served to reduce our influence on policy development at the central office and has made it difficult to create student friendly systems, policies and procedures and thus to be student service oriented;
- A limited, albeit growing, endowment that allows for few institutional aid opportunities for students. Institutions identified as peers have larger endowments-both in total and on FTE student basis;
- A very large, complex curriculum which may be contributing to the time-to-degree problem relative to national norms, faculty stress and strain on departmental resources;
- A fragmented advising system which is widely regarded by faculty and students as deficient in any number of ways but certainly for the support of lower division students;
- A decline in the academic profile of enrolled students given increased competition for high ability students and limited institutional aid opportunities;
- A history of under-funding and a tradition of wanting to do more than what funding would allow;
- A reputation for being unfriendly to students of color;
- An inadequate information infrastructure to support planning, operations and decision-making.
E. University Mission and Vision
The current mission statement of the University was formally reviewed as a part of the North Central Association reaccredidation visit in 1997. A copy of that Mission Statement is attached to this report (Attachment A). In 1995 the university communications office also developed a marketing effort, which included a vision statement, which is also attached to this report (Attachment B). We used these documents to create specific goals for enrollment management.
The mission and vision statements contain many goals and statements of vision, which an enrollment management program could and should support. These statements speak to a vision of St. Cloud State University as:
- The largest of Minnesota's State Universities
- Committed to excellence in teaching and learning
- Fostering scholarship, research, artistic and creative endeavors
- Enhancing community service
- Primarily serving the upper Midwest and Minnesota but attracting students from other states and nations
- Preparing students for leadership and fulfilling careers
- Enhancing academic achievement
- Developing teaching methods, programs and services to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body including non-traditional students
- Providing access to life-long learning
- Expand cooperation with other colleges and universities
- Establish SCSU as the University of choice for students of color
- Creating a student-centered environment that is responsive and efficient
- Recognition for an international emphasis including "study abroad."
The mission and vision speak to St. Cloud State University being the largest of Minnesota's state universities. This vision guided a discussion in 1996 among enrollment management staff and campus constituencies, which resulted in the setting of internal recruitment targets for new entering freshman (NEF) beginning in 1996. The NEF target is 2,400. This number, along with assumptions about other recruitment and retention was expected to provide 15,500 headcount students. Since 1996 the NEF class has grown from 1,917 to 2,253 and preliminary projections for Fall 1999 indicate that the 2,400 goals has been achieved. The NEF and total enrollment projection resulting was set in concert with budget cutting discussions occurring at the same time.
Some sentiment and rationale exists for a lower target. These issues include a sense that the previous enrollment high of approximately 17,000 was a student cohort that was not well handled by a staff that was then larger; that it will be difficult to grow both in size and in quality (more below); that Mankato is the second largest institution and it is currently at 11,000 and not likely to be substantially larger in the near future; that housing on campus is not available for a substantial increase and we are not adequately knowledgeable about the availability of student housing in the community; and that similar strategies for growth and budget have "backfired" on the campus in the past.
Optimal size of the student body can be predicated upon faculty and facilities resources. Analysis of St. Cloud State University faculty resources suggest that a student body of 10,800 FTE to 11,750 FTE or a headcount of 12,150 to 13,200 would be the optimal size based on a student to faculty ratio of 20:1. Analysis of the physical plant (including the new library) suggests that the student body could grow to a headcount of 20,000 students or 17,640 FTE before the institution would be operating at optimal capacity. Residence hall living quarters would likely need to expand to accommodate an increased number from a headcount of 17,000 or more students. The director of the residence hall program has stated that should enrollments reach this level, capacity of student living areas would need to expand by roughly 7% (150-200 beds).
The mission statement also speaks to excellence in teaching and learning as well as quality in students, faculty and staff. The internal targets developed for NEF in 1996 speak to quality within the NEF by anticipating that 12% of the total headcount will be recruited from the top 10% of the high school graduating class and 25% from the top 25%. The targets were also predicated on the aspiration of becoming a National Merit university by enrolling 3 National Merit Finalists each year. Although the proportion of top 10% and top 25% students has not declined as NEF has increased, neither has it increased. Noting year to year fluctuations, the proportion of top 10% and top 25% students in the NEF has remained about the same. In FY1998 (last available data) the proportion of top 10% in the NEF was 9.3% which is equal to the average for the past ten years and .3% higher than in 1996. The proportion of the NEF from the top 25% was 26% in FY 1997 which is 4% below the nine year average and below 1996 (also 30%). Strategies have increased the number of National Merit Finalists in the recruitment pool, with the number of National Merit Finalists enrolling remaining at 3 for the past three years.
The mission statement also speaks to a commitment to the region. We take that to mean the area of St. Cloud roughly encompassing 30 miles from the City of St. Cloud. There are no specific targets that speak to this commitment at this time, although historically the campus has enrolled a great number of students from the region.
Although the enrollment management team has often discussed a role for Continuing Education in the recruitment of new students and the mission speaks significantly to lifelong learning, we have not been successful in developing a focus between recruitment and continuing education.
The mission statement and current recruitment targets speak to diversity. Current enrollment targets for NEF envision a class that matches the college-going demographics for high school graduates by race. The marker developed was to match the ACT test taking high school graduation proportions. We had been informed that number was 12%. We set a target of 7% by the year 2000. There are several issues important to this recruitment area. First, the largest proportion of minority high school students in Minnesota is in the Twin Cities where SCSU gathers more than 34% of its' NEF. Success at this goal may increase that proportion. Second, one of the issues which drives the mission statement, an unfortunate reputation as a homogeneous white community, also creates a barrier, which will not be soon overcome. Finally, SCSU has not had the habit of recruiting minority students suggesting that a whole new mechanism needs to be created. Nevertheless, this recruitment area is a key element in a successful plan for enrollment and certainly to the future of SCSU.
The mission statement emphasizes cooperation with other institutions of higher education in Minnesota. Although recruitment targets have not addressed this issue, one strategy has, that being the Anoka Ramsey program. This program, where students denied admission to SCSU are accepted for Anoka Ramsey courses taught at St. Cloud, started with a group of 60 and exceeded 120 in 1998. Further analysis of this program will require time before we can speak to the success of the program. However, we are aware that there is some additional stress on campus resources, that attrition is high, but that some students enroll at SCSU after their first year in this program. It is also obvious that transfer recruitment involves a cooperation with other institutions. However, this vision has not driven this area of enrollment recruitment in the past. Articulation agreements and the cooperative doctoral program in educational leadership with the University of Minnesota are other strategies currently utilized to meet this part of the mission.
The mission statement envisions a rededication to the already strong area of international education. Approximately 500 students attend SCSU from 54 different nations. In 1998 the enrollment management group cooperated in developing a plan to increase that number to 900. There is speculation that the current international economic environment will have an adverse effect on this effort. We believe, however, that this is an important area for SCSU and one where we can achieve success.
The mission statement speaks to intellectual and scholarly achievement and one of the listed goals is to enhance academic achievement by strengthening standards in teaching and learning. We believe that a strong Honors Program will be essential to recruitment of students in the top 10% of their class.
We note that there is no specific mention of "access" in either the mission statement or the vision statement. This came as some surprise since our logo - A Tradition of Excellence and Opportunity - so prominently displays that commitment to access. One dimension of "opportunity" is service to students who do not meet our admission standards but show potential for success at the university. The current enrollment plan calls for increasing the Division of General Studies to 300 students and that goal was readily accomplished as of Fall, 1998. We continue to believe that opportunity is an important element of SCSU, historically and for the future.
Based on a definition of an enrollment management plan, a review of university mission and vision, an assessment of certain, although not an exhaustive, list of external and internal factors, the Enrollment Management Committee defined four areas of focus for the university:
- Student curricular success; and
- Transition to alumni status.
In addition, the committee believes that an investment in the information infrastructure will be required in order to be able to plan appropriately and to measure our success.
A. Establishing Targets for Student Recruitment
There has been growth in NEF from 1,917 to 2,253 between 1996 and 1998, 7% per year, and there are projections of a NEF class exceeding 2,400 for Fall 1999. Since it appears that 2,400 NEF is achievable and will maintain headcount below 17,000, while making SCSU the second largest of Minnesota's universities, we reaffirm the 2,400 NEF goal. The following recommendation has been shared with University budget staff for inclusion in their budget planning scenarios.
Recommendation One: We recommend that the University formally adopt a target for new entering freshmen of 2,400 with the intent to build a total enrollment of approximately 15,500.
Concerning excellence, we understand that becoming a National Merit University is a key element in the overall strategic vision. This being the case, and considering that we have been successful in recruiting three NMF each of the past three years, we recommit to that goal.
Recommendation Two: We recommend that the University seek National Merit status by committing itself to recruit three National Merit Finalists in each new entering freshman class. (Note: the past three entering classes have had 3 NMF. The committee changed its scholarship offering in 1999 to a "full ride" for NMFs with the hope of achieving a fourth year that would achieve this goal).
In order to gain in quality we need to achieve enhanced top 10% and to 25% goals. Since current efforts have served to only maintain the top 10% proportionate to the increase in the total class and the top 25% group has declined in proportion, it is clear that additional strategies will be required to meet this target. We reaffirm our commitment to the goals of 12% of NEF from top 10% and 25% form the top 25% of the high school graduating class and we will recommend recruitment strategies to achieve these targets.
Recommendation Three: In order to improve the profile of the student enrollment we recommend that the University commit itself to recruiting 12% of the NEF in the top 10% of the high school graduating class and 25% from the top 25% of the high school graduating class.
The apparent success of efforts to date in the area of diversity is heartening. In recent years the NEF has increased from 60 to 100 headcount minority students. Preliminary projections for Fall 1999 indicate a class of over 140 (6.7%). While this is an important gain, this number is still small and requires significant improvement. It is likely that achieving the 12% will take some time. Nevertheless, we believe that increasing the diversity of the undergraduate student body is an important university goal, which should be pursued.
Recommendation Four: We recommend that the University commit itself to matching the ACT test-taking proportion of the high school graduating class in regard to minorities to be achieved by 2002.
The plan to achieve an international student cohort of 900 includes a resource commitment that we believe will result in success in this area. There is conjecture that current international economic events will conspire against us in the near term and we should be prepared to weather that storm. The outcome will depend on a great many factors. Nevertheless, the goal is important to the overall campus strategy. At the same time, we note that the aspect of the international program where domestic students study in other countries has shrunk and has not expanded to include nations where our changing student body might have an interest specifically Mexico, Latin America and Africa. We will address this issue in another section of this report.
Recommendation Five: We recommend that the University continue to pursue the effort to recruit nine hundred international students.
Inter-institutional cooperation can be achieved in part through recruitment. To that end we will continue a thorough analysis of the Anoka Ramsey program and propose changes and possible additions. We also propose to continue the Senior to Sophomore Program for its clear cooperative potential with secondary schools. In addition, we will review our transfer program to insure that there is a focus on institutional cooperation. At the same time we reaffirm the transfer goal of 1,100 for the year 2000 increasing to 1,300 by the year 2003. As a part of achieving this goal we will need to increase our transfer articulation agreements and joint program agreements with two-year colleges. These agreements will be essential to assuring that SCSU remains competitive for transfer students in the future. In the near term, two-year college enrollments in Minnesota have decreased, and in some cases significantly. We will need to make our way through the next two years knowing that transfer enrollments may decline and monitor enrollment at these institutions. A goal change may be in order at that time.
Recommendation Six: We recommend that the new transfer class increase to 1,300 students by the year 2003.
We encourage a dialogue around Continuing Education that we are not positioned to undertake. Our best estimate is that Continuing Education accounts for 2,752 undergraduate enrollments and 2,023 graduate enrollments including summer session. These students generated approximately 10,500 quarter hours (obviously a complete semester hour experience does not exist) or about 420 FTE students. The course work includes summer session and 180 off-site courses. The Senior to Sophomore Program is also housed in Continuing Studies.
Recommendation Seven: We recommend that the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of Continuing Studies develop a program plan for Continuing Education in a fashion which speaks to credit hour production for addition to the enrollment management target.
Finally, we believe that a graduate enrollment target should be set as a part of increasing service to the region and further defining academic excellence. Unfortunately, we have not been able to undertake a dialogue to define adequately a target for graduate enrollment. Nevertheless, it is our understanding that institutions, which achieve national recognition, have at least 10% of the student body at the graduate level. They also have some presence in doctoral programs. We believe that the 10% goal is appropriate until another goal has been discussed and accepted. We believe that in order to achieve this goal SCSU will need to create a different mix of graduate programs based in a specific evaluation of the needs of the St. Cloud region. We also believe that additional doctoral programs are wholly appropriate for SCSU based on the success of the cooperative Ed.D. with the University of Minnesota. We encourage the university to seek additional programs. We emphasize that the development of programs should only be accomplished in a high quality fashion that will require adequate resources.
Recommendation Eight: We recommend that the enrollment management committee convene an appropriate group of faculty, staff, students and the Dean of Graduate Studies to develop a specific strategy to achieve a graduate cohort equal to 10% of total SCSU enrollment.
B. Recruiting to Meet Targets for Undergraduate Students
The targets for recruitment defined in this plan are designed to achieve a student cohort that is consistent with the university mission and vision and coordinated with the university financial plan. The targets are further designed to achieve a specific strategy related to the continuing health and viability of the university. Based on recent success and demographic projections favorable to these targets, it would appear that these targets are achievable with specific changes to strategies.
St. Cloud has emerged as a major draw for and, therefore, dependent on the Twin Cities area. St. Cloud depends on the Twin Cities for 35.2% of its new enrollments (1996) and depends on the Twin Cities Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for 45.2% of its students. Further, St. Cloud enrolls by far the largest number of metro area students among the state universities with 5,539 of the 16,572 enrolled in 1996. Since the Twin Cities graduate pool is projected to increase by the larger rate than greater Minnesota, St. Cloud should be advantaged as the trend unfolds.
The hope to increase students of color as a percent of the total should also be served as minorities become a larger proportion of the pool. Again, St. Cloud has the largest minority enrollment among the state universities and, therefore, should be advantaged entering this period of desired growth.
At the same time the threat of increasing competition appears very real. As Twin Cities pools increase and greater Minnesota pools decrease the attention of other institutions not traditionally focused on this market will increase. As the high school graduate pools decrease in neighboring states institutions in those states can also be expected to compete for these same students.
Finally, competition for talented students of all races remains unclear. It would appear that the major competition for St. Cloud and Mankato (as well as others to a lesser extent) is the University of Minnesota. That institution has been successful in all of the arenas in which St. Cloud seeks to compete and has done better for minorities and part-time students. Although we do not have data on top 10% students and National Merit Finalists, we might reasonably assume that the University of Minnesota has distinct advantages in recruiting these talented students.
C. Core Strategies for Attracting Students
St. Cloud State University has achieved success over a long period of time for a variety of reasons. Students report that program quality, availability of programs they want, location, general appearance, quality of the faculty and size all work to our advantage. It would appear that St. Cloud can achieve the 2,400 NEF target with the resources already at hand.
This success is due also because St. Cloud is successful in a variety of techniques important to recruitment. Among these we might include:
Publications: The introductory piece commonly called the "teaser" is consistently rated highly by students and competitors. The "Viewbook" is similarly rated. These documents have been revamped in the past three years based on feedback from the high school market. A minority recruitment piece developed in 1995 also received high marks from target audiences and competitors. Other targeted audience pieces totaling 6 to 10 per year are developed depending on research information and have been normally rated very high;
Direct Mailings: The University purchases over 20,000 names of juniors from regional and state high schools with a focus on St. Cloud and the Twin Cities. A solicitation sent in April of their junior year results in a 12% response rate that is double the industry standard of 6 to 7%.
Response Mailings: The mail center developed in 1994 has resulted in SCSU being very responsive to solicited and unsolicited inquiries. Inquiries are scanned for targeted response areas, and responses including any number of publications university-wide or from departments are returned to the potential student always within one week of receipt.
Electronic Communications: The campus has developed quality pieces for CD-ROM, video and use of the Internet. The CD-ROM piece is not a widely used item but it speaks to a portion of the pool that wants to know that SCSU is "techno-savvy." This group has responded warmly to the SCSU CD-ROM that was one of the first to be developed in Minnesota. The campus video has improved dramatically since 1995 and received routinely high marks when used in school visits and on-campus visits. A recently revised travel video has also received high marks from students and parents. The Internet recruitment and application use is growing appreciably. In 1998 10% of all applications were received via the Internet. The campus WEB page receives consistently high marks from potential recruits and students and the competition also regularly praises the Office of Admissions page.
Personal Communications: SCSU has competed well through targeted high school visits, personal telephone solicitation, regional campus financial aid "seminars," an excellent on-campus visit program, and very good management of "walk-ins". Although campus staffing does not allow visits to all Minnesota high schools (which is also not necessary) the staff has targeted Twin Cities high schools, suburban metropolitan schools, St. Cloud area schools and greater Minnesota schools where we have historic connections which produce students. Staff is well trained, makes very positive impressions and is well equipped with printed and electronic materials. Recruits who progress through the "funnel" receive contact from St. Cloud after acceptance to increase yield. The on-campus tours both scheduled and on an ad hoc basis are consistently rated high by students. The use of the campus video has been an important enhancement.
Financial Aid Awards: The University developed a specific program for its version of "early awards". Through the addition of staff and minor programming, the campus provides all interested students and families with an estimated aid calculation closely following their application. The "estimate" (as opposed to a commitment) has the advantage of avoiding later confusion while still providing the student with a good assessment of his/her eligibility. This effort has received praise from our recruits and parents. In three years, students use of the estimator has grown from 388 to 1,039 with a yield rate of 75%.
National Merit Finalists: The Admissions Office has focused on National Merit Finalists over the past three years in order to achieve National Merit University status. Aggressive marketing of quality programs, persistent solicitation of individuals and additional scholarships of $5,000 has marked this effort for four years of study. 1998 marked the third year in which three NMF enrolled at SCSU. In order to achieve the fourth, required year and to avoid starting over in achieving four years, the Enrollment Management Committee reassigned available scholarship monies to offer a "free ride" scholarship of $8,800 along with a guarantee of a faculty mentor, involvement in the faculty member's research and an internship during the course of study.
Scholarships: The Admissions Office operated with a $200,000 scholarship budget for several years. In 1996 a revised scholarship plan was developed focused on top 10% students and students of color. That program has grown to $550,000 through Foundation grants and is scheduled to grow to $1,040,000 for the Fall 2001 entering class.
D. Improvements to Core Recruitment Strategies
Building on this base, in order to insure continued achievement of the ambitious targets established in this plan and to keep pace with if not exceed improvements in the competition which can be expected, St. Cloud needs to make specific investments in the core recruitment program. The most important aspect of this improved competition will be in the image of the University. SCSU is a proud institution with a long tradition of excellence and opportunity. As the second largest university in Minnesota, with extensive accreditation recognizing strong academic programs, in a growing region, the campus has much to offer. At the same time, focus on growth in the Twin Cities as opposed to growth in St. Cloud, efforts to improve the image of other institutions especially the University of Minnesota, the emerging reputation of Minnesota - Duluth and recent events such as alcohol incidents, racial tensions and hate crimes being publicized across the state and nation, will require SCSU to continue recent efforts at enhancing its image. The Office of Admissions will take an active role in assisting the targeting of regions and methods for this marketing effort.
Recommendation Nine: The Office of Admissions will work closely with the Office of University Communication in targeting marketing efforts which enhance the University image especially in recruitment areas such as the Twin Cities, Rochester and the immediate St. Cloud region, to enhance all print and electronic communications used in recruitment, and to coordinate the timing of marketing efforts with recruitment efforts.
The University must also continue to improve on the image created for the student and family on their first visit. In the past three years real and important improvements have occurred at SCSU. The campus master plan, refurbishing the Administrative Service Building entrance area and general campus appearance have all been significant improvements. The Admissions Office location itself, however, including the view room has not changed in several years. The physical reception students receive at this setting are less than adequate. We must make continuing improvements in all of these areas.
Recommendation Ten: The Office of Admissions will work with the office of Facilities Management to create a specific proposal by May 1, 1999 for revamping the Office of Admissions physical space to include parking and possibly including a relocation.
Recommendation Eleven: The University should continue to implement the campus physical master plan at as quick a pace as finances will allow.
Recommendation Twelve: The Office of Admissions will work with Residential Life, the Vice President for Student Life and the Office of Financial Management and Budget to develop recommendations by July 1, 1999 for improving the external appearance and the entrance appearances in Residential Life.
The lead effort at recruiting new entering students is, clearly, the responsibility of the Office of Admissions. However, the university's ability to be successful through that office is greatly enhanced by a campus-wide perception of the importance of recruitment and by the participation of key offices and staff. Important among the participants are faculty, Deans, Student Life Directors, Minority Student Program Directors, Financial Aids, University Public Safety and Alumni. At this time the participation rate is uneven, although where it occurs it is excellent.
Recommendation Thirteen: The Office of Admissions will convene an Admissions Council by June 1, 1999. The Council will consist of Associate Deans from each college, appointments of the Faculty Association, Assistant/Associate Vice Presidents for Facilities, Students Life and Curriculum (or appropriate titles), a representative from MSUAASF and Council 6, a representative from Financial Aids, a representative from Career Development and a representative from Residential Life.
Recommendation Fourteen: The Admissions Council will recommend by August 1, 1999 specific programs and efforts to increase the involvement of faculty and staff in the recruitment process.
The University must continue to invest in direct solicitation in the high schools especially in the Twin Cities. As competition can be projected to increase from border state institutions, the University of Minnesota, other state universities, private colleges and from two-year colleges, St. Cloud cannot afford to be less than aggressive in recruitment. SCSU must reinvest in its materials and schedule for high school visitations as well as increase in efforts at personal solicitation.
Recommendation Fifteen: The Office of Admissions will continue to review its materials used in direct solicitation on a routine, scheduled basis in consultation with the Office of Communications and upgrade these materials annually.
Recommendation Sixteen: The Office of Admissions will complete the revision of its high school visitation schedule assuring that each "feeder" school, receives a visit annually and that Twin Cities high schools receive in depth attention more than once per year. In Fall, 1999 a revised approach will focus visits on concentric circles beginning in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud.
Recommendation Seventeen: The University should add an Admissions Counselor who will enhance the Twin Cities high school visit routine. This position will work in conjunction with recommendations about transfer students and student of color recruitment discussed later in this report.
SCSU should focus on improving yield rates for accepted students. At this time, approximately 58% of the accepted first year students and 68% of transfer students attend. Almost all of the students who make residence hall assignments and those who register for orientation eventually attend. SCSU makes use of a contracted telephone follow-up, which has certain advantages. Seventy-five percent of students receiving the financial aid estimator attend. However, there are better solicitation techniques targeted at university recruitment populations. Literature in college recruitment also indicates that the personal solicitation from university faculty and staff has a much greater impact. The university can achieve these results through several approaches.
Recommendation Eighteen: The Office of Admissions will by June 1, 1999 purchase and install tele-counseling software for use in a campus based telephone follow-up system for admitted students
Recommendation Nineteen: The Office of Admissions, working with the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Deans, will develop by June 1, 1999 a program for faculty calling for those admits with an indicated area of study including creating packages which make faculty solicitation calls as easy as possible for the faculty.
Recommendation Twenty: The Office of Admissions will work with Residential Life and Orientation, by August 1, 1999 to revamp and improve a solicitation piece which encourages admitted students to make a residential life reservation and an early orientation appointment.
E. Targeted Solicitations
Tradition and practice have focused SCSU on opportunity for every high school graduate above the 50th percentile of the high school graduating class to attend college. This strategy has worked particularly well in serving central Minnesota. Unfortunately, that reputation has worked against an image of quality as student often report that their college strategy might include a sense that. "I can always get in to State."
In the 1990s, the campus focused its attention on recruiting a better-prepared student, students of color and more students from the Twins Cities market. These efforts have met with some success. While top 10% students have increased, they have done so only in direct proportion to the increasing size of the NEF class. There has been a statistically dramatic increase in minority enrollment but against a small cohort to start. The numbers from the Twin Cities have grown significantly as one might expect from the growth in that area. While the campus is well served by its general recruiting tactics and will be served by marginal, important strategic changes in that arena, recruiting targeted audiences will require more significant changes.
F. Attracting a Better Prepared Cohort
Students in the top portion of their class are attracted to institutions that are focused on the academic program the student wants, offer the promise of success while in college and after graduation, and that recruit them in a fashion similar to institutions that are perceived, fairly or not, as being high quality universities. Although SCSU has a high quality academic program where students succeed during their study and after graduation, SCSU is not known for this program among better prepared students.
In order to recruit these students, we will need to change our "internal" focus on quality, develop an image off campus which stresses quality, "package" what SCSU has to offer to students in general and to selected students specifically, and find ways to attract a specific cohort of students. In order to achieve these targets we offer the following recommendations.
Recommendation Twenty-one: The Office of Admissions will work with the Office of Communications to develop by June 1, 1999 a series of "Quality" messages about SCSU to be broadcast to the central Minnesota and Twin Cities markets in ways directed by the Office for Communications.
Recommendation Twenty-two: The Office of Admissions will develop by September 1, 1999 recommendations for a target and a time table for gradually increasing entrance requirements to increase the proportion of new entering first year students in the 75th through 89th percentile and top 10% students while achieving the 2,400 total goal and retaining the Division of General Studies.
Recommendation Twenty-three: The Enrollment Management Committee will work with the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Academic Affairs Council to develop by September 1, 1999, recommendations for enrollment caps for specific academic majors designed to increase the competitiveness of those programs and their perceived quality.
Recommendation Twenty-four: The Office of University Communications will work with the Office of Admissions to offer each academic department by March 1, 2000 the opportunity to create or revamp department recruitment literature which emphasizes academic quality and student success with the goal of developing or replacing 75% of all department recruitment literature by June 1, 2000.
Recommendation Twenty-five: The Enrollment Management Committee will work with the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Director of the Honors Program to convene appropriate faculty, staff and students to develop recommendations to coordinate specific admission to the Honors Program as a part of the recruitment process.
Recommendation Twenty-six: The Office of Admissions recommends a scholarship plan for top 25% students that offers 30 $1,000 scholarships for four years with a competition judged by a Scholarship Committee to be completed by February 1st of each year. The Office of Admissions will develop and implement the plan for the Fall 2000 recruitment class.
Recommendation Twenty-seven: The Office of Admissions recommends a revised strategy for top 10% scholarships to offer 300 top 10% student scholarships of $1,000 for four years to the first 300 students who commit to SCSU and 50, $5,000 scholarships to be awarded on a competitive basis to students selected from this group of 300 through a competition judged by a Scholarship Committee and awarded by February 1st of each year. The Office of Admissions will develop and implement the plan for the Fall 2000 recruitment class.
Recommendation Twenty-eight: The Office of Admissions will develop with the Vice President for Academic Affairs by September 1, 1999 a Scholarship Committee which monitors the effectiveness of the SCSU recruitment scholarship program, makes recommendations for changes and awards scholarships based on competitions judged within the University.
Attracting National Merit finalists is a special case of better prepared students. These students can attend a wide variety of highly selective institutions across the country and be offered scholarships and faculty support, all of which is beyond the reasonable means of SCSU. However, SCSU can and has been successful in recruiting a select group of these students based on a very personal recruitment and packaging of what SCSU has to offer. Normally, these students will be from central Minnesota and will be looking for a specific experience near home. SCSU has attracted 3 National Merit University finalists each year for 1996, 1997 and 1998. It is possible that we will achieve National Merit University status in 1999. This achievement will allow an increase in perceived quality among our market. The Enrollment Management Committee has reallocated available scholarship dollars to create three "full ride" scholarships ($8,800) for this group. In order to continue our success and solidify this standing we offer the following recommendations.
Recommendation Twenty-nine: The Office of Admissions will work with the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Deans and departments to assure that departments and Deans assign each enrolled National Merit Finalist a faculty mentor for their collegiate experience who will include that student in her/his research programs.
Recommendation Thirty: The Office of Admissions will work with the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Deans, departments and the Office of Career Development to assure each that departments provide to each National Merit Finalist an internship (in addition to scholarship) as a part of the curriculum during their SCSU experience.
G. Recruiting Students of Color
Changing the profile of incoming students to better match the changing demographics of Minnesota can only occur when SCSU achieves a reputation for being a hospitable environment for a diverse community. Two items will contribute to our projected success. First is the reported change and reasonable projections of growth in communities of color. The Reinhardt data cited earlier in this report is among many which indicates more than a doubling in these populations. This is a factor of birth rates and "in-migration". Although Reinhardt does not project an increase in participation rates for this group, we suggest that this rate can also be effected upward.
The second item is a clear trend toward increasing diversity and social justice at SCSU. In the middle parts of this decade recruitment of faculty and students, awareness among the campus community, specific programs for training and cultural sensitivity, and development of student and faculty organizations devoted to diversity and social justice have all contributed to a very different culture from the "White Cloud" reputation of the 1980s and early 1990s. While there is yet much progress to be made, progress of some importance has occurred.
At the same time, this progress has resulted from struggle, which has been reported statewide, regionally and to some extent nationally. One aspect of our success will depend on creating that more diverse and just campus and changing public opinion about SCSU.
The recruitment process cannot occur apart from efforts to create a more welcoming environment for a more diverse student cohort. The Office of Admissions must be a part of the process on campus designed to improve that climate and student support. Already, the Office of Admissions has reclassified a position to make it Assistant Director for Student of Color Outreach with the position to include working with student of color support offices and student organizations on campus. In order to coordinate between these efforts and recruitment we offer the following recommendations.
Recommendation Thirty-one: The Office of Admissions has convened and will continue to support a Recruitment and Retention group to include Directors of the American Indian Center, Minority Studies, Minority Student Programs, Chicano/a Studies and Student of Color Organization Presidents which will be designed to review recruitment strategies and coordinate recruitment with retention. (The group is expected to focus on recruitment assistance and to be focused on retention where their previous efforts have been targeted. In the Retention section of this report there is discussion of the group's role in that effort).
Recommendation Thirty-two: The Office of Admissions will develop and implement a program by June 1, 1999 where Senior Student Interns are selected from among student of color organizations (for African American, Chicano/Latino, Asian and American Indian student recruitment) and appointed to work 10-20 hours per week.
SCSU will need to improve substantially the means through which it identifies students of color for recruitment. Although the current practice of using ACT data is a good start, it does not identify a sufficiently large pool to meet our goals. In order to achieve this goal, we offer the following recommendations.
Recommendation Thirty-three: The Office of Admissions will work with the Director of Minority Studies to formalize the role of the Pipeline Program in recruitment of students by June 1, 1999 where every student identified through that program will be offered a scholarship upon successful completion of high school with specific criteria and those students will receive regular mailings from SCSU.
Recommendation Thirty-four: The Office of Admissions will work with the American Indian Center, the Office of Minority Student Programs and the Chicano/a Studies director by September 1, 1999 to coordinate the student of color organization recruitment programs working closely with students and assuring that attendees are a part of ongoing solicitation. (The office will coordinate the programs scheduled for Spring 1999 as well).
Recommendation Thirty-five: The Office of Admissions will identify 14 Twin Cities schools and 6 greater Minnesota schools for targeted recruitment of students of color and will make three visits to each school by the Assistant Director assisted by the Interns each year.
Recommendation Thirty-six: The Office of Admissions will by May 1, 1999 identify specific organizations, publications and locator services to identify students of color for inclusion in the coordinated mailing projects similar to the general student recruitment program.
Once the students have been identified for recruitment through the process of communicating and "selling" we need to present a good program, package the program and give those students a reason to attend SCSU. To that end we recommend the following.
Recommendation Thirty-seven: The Office of Admissions will work with the newly formed Recruitment and Retention group and the Office of Communications by August 1, 1999 to create culturally specific promotional materials of improved quality.
Recommendation Thirty-eight: The Office of Admissions will develop by June 1, 1999 a revised mailing strategy which provides the publications in a sequenced, targeted flow to students throughout their high school career for implementation in the Fall of 1999.
Recommendation Thirty-nine: The Office of Admissions will implement by January 1, 2000 a new student of color scholarship program that offers one full ride scholarship ($8,800) to the top minority student in each of the targeted 20 high schools to be awarded by February 1 preceding the recruitment year class (2/1/00 for 9/00 entrants).
Finally, the connection to retention and a supportive environment must complete the cycle of recruitment.
Recommendation Forty: The Office of Admissions will work with the Recruitment and Retention group to create specific "hand-off" programs to have new student of color recruits introduced to the cultural and support programs already on campus (i.e.: Advanced Preparation Program).
H. Recruiting Transfer Students
Again, SCSU is a leader in recruiting transfer students with a class of 1,122 which has increased in this decade and held steady despite declining two year college enrollments in recent years. To a great extent our success results from stability in the transfer recruitment program, not the least important aspect being the staff member. The program has been dependent in great measure on two-year college visits, publications and working diligently at maximizing transfer credit.
As in the case with general student recruitment, our continued success will depend in great measure on maintaining competitiveness in an increasingly competitive market. In addition, we must think of transfer recruitment in conjunction with increasing goals for better students and/or more diverse students. In order to achieve these goals we offer the following recommendations.
Recommendation Forty-one: The Office of Admissions will work with the Office of Communication to review publications targeted at transfer students by June 1, 1999 and revise them to improve on the quality and diversity messages included in other recruitment efforts for implementation in Fall, 1999.
Recommendation Forty-two: The Office of Admissions will develop by June 1, 1999 recommendations for specific programs for better SCSU-Technical College articulations with targeted feeder colleges for implementation in the Fall, 1999.
Recommendation Forty-three: The Enrollment Management Committee will work with the Vice President for Academic Affairs to review and improve credit transfer possibly through a revised approach to the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum.
I. Other Office of Admissions Requirements
Finally, all of this effort needs to be staffed by adequate, capable, well-supported and well-trained staff, student employees and volunteers. Although the staff and students have been energetic, concerned and enthusiastic supporters of SCSU by tradition, it will be necessary to offer continuing training and support so that they continue to be successful as this revised program unfolds.
Recommendation Forty-four: The Office of Admissions will implement the new MnSCU recruitment module by June 1, 1999 and will, working with Administrative Computing staff, make necessary improvements to the system during the 1999-2000 recruitment cycle.
Recommendation Forty-five: The Office of Admissions will continue development of annual staff training schedule including but not limited to marketing, admissions trends, ethics, public presentation, recruitment plan, university strategic planning, diversity and social justice, and trends in Minnesota higher education.
Student persistence/success, retention, has many facets and many definitions. Essentially, the university mission and vision statements speaking to student success define an environment focused on students which will lead to the maximum rate of retention our students can support or desire. Successful recruitment followed by successful students will lead to an enhanced university environment. The guiding principle requires that we focus our campus community and its resources on student success.
Student success begins with established expectations, placement and curriculum, plans for academic and personal development sustained by student services, all of which enhance success. In effect, student success will be the reason for persistence.
Student success is so critical it cannot be left to chance. Resulting from a clear policy choice, the university needs to be intrusive and find ways to involve students and the university together to impact students to insure their success. Institutions are sometimes passive or non-intrusive into a student's life. Students are expected to become involved, use services and select opportunities by themselves. It is their responsibility. Unfortunately, many students are not able to adjust to this expectation and therefore, an intrusive environment is required.
New students need immediate successes. This could be in the form of classes, advising, or administrative services. It could be in their initial contacts with faculty, staff, or peers. It is best to begin this process of success at the time of recruitment, continuing through the initial enrollment being fostered during their first term and ultimately, continuing through graduation. This initial success will build the confidence and demonstrate to the student that their decision to attend an institution was the best decision they could have made.
The need for immediate success in the building of a positive attitude is being constructed while the student is a prospect and in the recruitment process. While recruitment focuses on pre-enrollment decisions, retention will focus on post-enrollment decisions. If students are qualified for admission, they qualify for retention consideration. If a cohort, a group, or category of students is identified for recruitment, they should also be identified for retention.
A. Keys to Retention
We recommend the following as keys to retention that should be woven into the fabric of institutional practices and programs:
- Establish a clear set of plans and goals that will help produce a beginning that will define and lead to immediate and long-term success.
- Establish an early relationship between the student's academic program and their career/life plans.
- Establish an early involvement between students and faculty.
- Provide administrative processes that are clear and easy to use.
- Provide for the collection of data and analysis to use as the basis for making decisions regarding student success.
- Recognize that student/university interaction occurs in a variety of ways and at a variety of institutional levels.
- The university must set clear expectations and students need to weave them into their social and academic fabric and develop a commitment to their own persistence.
B. Current Status of SCSU Retention Projects
National retention rates for institutions similar to SCSU for freshman to sophomore are 69%. In the mid-1980s SCSU retention was approximately 66% and at that time, the institution slowly started to implement strategies to increase retention. During the last several years, SCSU retention has been between 74-76%. At SCSU, at this time, the missing element is tracking students by their cohort grouping and expanding retention beyond the freshman to sophomore definition. Individual groups, programs and activities have had an impact on student success and retention but there has not been a connected or coordinated program to link these activities.
There are several successful retention strategies currently being used at SCSU. Some departments and some individuals have changed their academic advising styles to be more intrusive. The student success course has positively impacted all types of participating students. New student orientation has a proven track record of impacting student success primarily because of faculty/peer involvement. Faculty involvement in the teaching and advising of Division of General Studies students has been demonstrated as an effective retention tool. These are but examples of administrative service and faculty successes, and it must be acknowledged that the university has had a measure of success.
C. Improvements to Retention Programs
We believe that the changes to recruitment targets cited earlier in this document and intrusive, focused retention strategies can increase the retention rate at SCSU. We propose a goal of an improvement in first to second year retention by 2% in academic years 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03 to achieve and sustain retention over 80%. This rate of retention would make SCSU one of the most distinctive comprehensive universities in the nation as measured by retention.
To ensure students are partners in their own education, to involve faculty as a major influence in retention, to provide administrative services to assist with student success, to provide for programmatic or required student involvement, to be that student centered environment, to be intrusive into the pattern of student success and to support recruitment we recommend a series of actions and programs for the University.
D. Students in Transition
We believe that students are always in the process of transition and that their needs and expectations will change as the students proceed through their educational career. The university must recognize these transitions and meet student needs at these points. When the student is a prospect the needs are different than at orientation prior to enrollment, which are quite different than during the first term which will change by the time the student finishes their freshman year. This process continues through graduation. In our efforts to have a positive effect on these transitions, timing is everything. The university must be prepared to meet a student need at the time the information or process will be of value to the student.
The crucial time of transition occurs in the student's first year. As such, the university must create specific, intrusive programs designed to insure retention and add to later success.
Recommendation Forty-six: The Office of the Registrar will reassess the needs, goals and expectations of Summer Orientation to develop a new program with an eye toward creating a seamless process which "funnels" students to the transition programs. The strategy for a new program will recommit to the basic philosophy of determining the student and institutional needs and matching them with aspects of the program, as well as maintaining the parents' program. A proposal for the revised program will be made by January 1, 2000.
Recommendation Forty-seven: The Enrollment Management Committee will by November 1, 1999 reassess the needs for and the structuring of a transfer student orientation of much greater scope than the current program.
Recommendation Forty-eight: The Enrollment Management committee will convene a group of faculty, staff and students in the Fall of 1999 to consider the merits of a common first year curriculum in whole or part to insure core curriculum classes and to provide a solid start for all first year students.
Recommendation Forty-nine: The Enrollment Management Committee will continue to work with the Office of Student Life and Development to improve on a "hand-off" program in the beginning of each Fall semester that emphasizes the relationship between their recruitment and their retention, and adds to the best orientation of first year students to their college career. The initial effort at this revised program will occur in the Fall of 1999.
Recommendation Fifty: The Enrollment Management Committee will continue the College Success course in the Fall of 1999 and will work with a committee of faculty, staff and students to use the student research data to recommend changes in the content of the course for the subsequent year. The revised proposal will be produced in January 2000.
A 1996 pre-enrollment assessment given to all freshmen identified their reasons for attending St. Cloud State University. Of the four top reasons, three of them were involved in preparing for a career. External forces are also pressuring the institution for these activities. It is important to note that students are not indicating only vocational interests are of importance to them, but rather the learning process and becoming educated also has importance in the area of careers. We also believe that a more organized and informed career choice will add to the focus of undergraduate major selection and reduce the average time to graduation.
Recommendation Fifty-one: The Office of Career Development will by October 1, 1999 propose a revised program which will be integrated with recruitment, orientation and transitions which will encourage students to focus early in their undergraduate careers on a career and a major while diminishing but not abandoning the credentialing aspect of their current services.
Recommendation Fifty-two: The Office of Career Development will work with the Advising Center and the Career Exploration program in the Counseling Center to develop specific means through which all first year students will undergo a career exploration experience. Proposals to accomplish this goal will be presented by November 1, 1999.
Recommendation Fifty-three: The Office of Career Development, the Advising Center and the Career Exploration program of the Counseling Center will develop by December 1, 1999 specific ways in which they will interact for the welfare of students which may involve a proposal for co-location.
Academic advising is essential to assist with student transitions, enhance the student's connection to the university, provide a strategy for academic success and eventually assist with graduation and a common goal of career development. Advising has been both damned and praised by a variety of local studies. While it is always assumed advising is inadequate, a recent study commissioned by Enrollment Management and produced by Professor Steve Frank indicated advising was not the nemesis portrayed. SCSU is in the enviable position of having three major units asking for a revision of academic advising. The faculty, in the previously mentioned study, has asked for a revision of academic advising and has suggested some procedures and models. Student surveys would indicate the students are requesting a revision in academic advising. The administration is the third component calling for a revision of academic advising. Seldom is there such a unified call for the revision of a particular program. Some areas of advising are working very well, while others are in desperate need of enhancement. .
Recommendation Fifty-four: The Enrollment Management Committee recommends that the proposal advanced by Professor Klepetar be adopted for the Fall, 2000 semester. Since it is generally recognized that individual contact with faculty is a key component of retention and persistence to degree, expand and implement within two years the portion of the advising plan which calls for revision and improvement of advising within the major.
Recommendation Fifty-five: The enrollment management committee will by October 1, 1999 convene a group of faculty, staff and students to identify student transitions beyond the freshman year and develop strategies to intervene with students before those transition points occur. The program will include reviewing student satisfaction reports and other information to determine the changing needs of students. A report will be prepared for the Spring semester 2000.
E. Retention of Selected Groups
The university has identified selected groups of students it wishes to recruit. This could be honor students, athletes, students of color, or a particular major. This is a part of our recruitment mission. If we recruit specific groups, we should attempt to retain specific groups.
The student of color retention program should be energized with at least the same enthusiastic commitment applied to the recruitment of students of color. Recruitment and retention should be considered as one process as the student's progress through a series of educational experiences. Students may find new individuals, new experiences, new expectations, new requirements as they transition but it should be in a seamless environment. The recruitment of students of color and the subsequent retention programs require the students be given an opportunity for participation in a culturally compatible environment.
Recommendation Fifty-six: The Office of Records and Registration will by June 1, 1999 complete the development of a recruitment and retention advisory group which would work with Admissions to develop, during the Fall semester, a specific strategy for retention of students of color. (An early recommendation focused on the role of this group in recruitment. This is intended to be one group).
F. Student/Client Services
The university must improve its administrative service to students. Surveys have indicated that students are not satisfied with the administrative services they receive on the campus. No one, including the student, is suggesting the student is always correct, but that they deserve explanations and deserve to be treated with respect. Students want to know their options and what solutions might be available to them. On the part of employees, there is seldom a disregard for student needs but rather a genuine concern. Employees, however, do not always know how to solve the problem or refer the student. There are discussions about supporting an internal market at our university and taking pride in our environment. Staff has overwhelmingly indicated their willingness to learn and work with the students, thereby having both the students and the employee take greater pride in the university.
Recommendation Fifty-seven: The Enrollment Management Committee and the Office of Human Resources will by June 1, 1999 introduce a "quality and service" initiative that will orient offices and employees to student focused services, provide means to reinforce the message of service, and develop means for measuring student satisfaction against base line surveys.
Recommendation Fifty-eight: The Enrollment Management Committee will develop a specific proposal to create a service oriented space realignment consistent with the pending university facilities utilization plan. The committee with work with Facilities Management to produce this plan in December 1999.
G. Student Employment Mentoring
Student employment allows students to identify with the institution. General retention research indicates there is a high correlation between students working on campus and educational persistence. The supervisor is a link between the student and the institution. At SCSU, approximately 4,000 students are employed on campus. On campus employment has the opportunity to impact almost 1/3 of the student population.
Recommendation Fifty-nine: The Office of Career Development will create a program by September 1, 1999 which attempts to coordinate student career interests with positions for student employment as well as develop a mentoring approach for students in the campus employment.
H. Retention Management Council
There is a need to coordinate retention activities. Currently, any individual program, or office is free to establish what is called a retention program. These are well intentioned and often effective. They are also usually based upon the activities of an individual and are not brought into the mainstream of the institution. As individuals come and go, or as interest wanes, so do the programs. In addition, we find an overlap of services or, in some cases, services in conflict.
Recommendation Sixty: The Enrollment Management Committee will implement a Retention Council including Associate Deans, faculty and enrollment management staff which will monitor the success of retention efforts and recommend changes or new programs based on their assessments. The committee will be established in September 1999.
I. Institutional Research
In June 1997, President Bruce Grube created the Office of Institutional Research and Planning to address the lack of readily available, institutional data, analysis and reporting. While much progress has been made since the office's inception, the institution must continue in its efforts toward creating an environment in which data is targeted, readily available, and deployed to evaluate and improve its programs. Although MnSCU system development has slowed progress toward that end, the office continues in its efforts to create a management information system to serve the institution's decision-making and planning needs.
To support the enrollment management process, the university needs to develop a greater understanding of what aspects of the institution are most important to its students as well as student satisfaction with those dimensions of the organization. The campus needs to determine if it is meeting student needs and expectations. Critical to this discussion are understanding the value students place on various services and how these services enhance student academic success.
Recommendation Sixty-one: The Office of Institutional Research will purchase and administer a national survey to measure student satisfaction and determine the importance of such satisfaction on student success/retention. This should be done as often as needed (at least every other year) to determine effectiveness of efforts to improve the environment. The results should be published on the IR web site. The first survey will be completed during the 1999-2000 academic year.
Once systematically gathered information is available, the Enrollment Management Committee will direct energy and resources to improve areas most important to students, but having the lowest satisfaction level. This survey should be a management tool for the allocation of resources. As much as possible, efforts should be made to match student satisfaction/dissatisfaction to the unit level so actions may be guided for the greatest impact at the level of the delivery of programs and services.
The university needs to begin profiling incoming student aspirations and attitudes along with their traditional skills. The institution should develop ways to assess student persistence and determine where the offer for assistance is most likely to make a significant impact. This may mean gathering additional information at the time students apply to the institution as well as when they are formally admitted for study.
Recommendation Sixty-two: The Office of Institutional Research will purchase and administer a national survey to measure motivation/attitudes and thus develop a profile of students most likely to withdraw from the institution prior to degree completion. This survey will be administered prior to student enrollment at the university with the first survey to occur for the Fall 2000 class.
A database for this information should be created by MnSCU and maintained by the Office of Institutional Research. Enrollment Management should have responsibility for reviewing this information and assigning university offices and functions to meet student needs. Institutional Research should also maintain contact with the testing organization to assure there is a comparison of local to national information.
The University should also establish a statistical retention tracking system. It is imperative that we understand who has the best chance of succeeding at our institution. It is important that we be able to match interest inventories, satisfaction rates, admission assessment information, high school information, student profiles and a host of other information so that this can be considered when developing recruitment strategies and admissions policies.
Recommendation Sixty-three: The Office of Institutional Research, with the assistance of Enrollment Management and the Office of Information Systems, will build or purchase student tracking software. Tracking components will be determined by the management requirements of departments, programs, colleges, service units, or any other university offices according to priority of need. Programs would include Honors Program, Division of General Studies and cohort groups such as athletics, students of color and regional groupings. The system will be developed by the Spring semester 2000.
All retention activities should be evaluated on a periodic basis in order to decide whether a program or process should be continued, changed or eliminated.
As noted earlier, recruitment is only the first step in an enrollment management plan. A coordinated effort must be made to retain and graduate the students who have enrolled. Even after graduation, those who work with alumni say their attitude towards continued involvement with and financial support of SCSU is largely dependent upon the alum's perception of the quality of the experience he or she had while a student.
Retention efforts in the previous section speak more to the developmental needs of students in transition: first-year students, transfers, students selecting a major and non-traditional students beginning or returning to school. In addition, a good retention program should focus specifically on student academic success and improved graduation rates. This leads to the final major transition for students from their university experience to careers and lifelong learning opportunities.
Student academic success means assisting the student in achieving her/his academic goals to the best of the student's and the university's ability. These goals may include preparation for transfer, a pre-professional program, licensure or course work not leading to any degree or award, but it usually involves the goal of receiving a Bachelor's degree from SCSU in a timely fashion. Graduate students will have many of the same issues as undergraduates, but their time frame is often substantially different.
SCSU baccalaureate graduation rates do not generally compare favorably with similar institutions across the country. Four-year graduation rates at 13% are comparable for like institutions, but five year (33%) and six year (40%) rates are well below like institutions. There is considerable external pressure to see students graduating in four years. Many students, however, expect to graduate in five or six years because they plan to work while in school or to take more time to combine multiple programs. Even with these differing expectations it should be possible to improve graduation rates.
There are two major curriculum issues that lie at the heart of improving student academic success and graduation rates. These may be described as alignment and availability. Alignment describes the degree to which our academic programs are consistent with student demand and societal needs. An example would be the increased student demand for Special Education programs coupled with national and state data that project shortages of teachers in these areas.
Enrollment Management recognizes the role of strategic planning in determining the academic direction the university should take. The only major career area of the top ten fastest-growing occupations requiring a bachelor's degree in which we do not currently have significant programming is that of allied health disciplines. There may also be programs for which enrollment or career prospects have declined but which should be enhanced nevertheless in order to meet the university's mission or reduced or eliminated to provide resources for new program areas. Programs that are no longer serving the needs of students and society should be phased out. Having the proper mix of academic programs consistent with our mission and capabilities is also a crucial part of achieving recruiting and retention goals.
Availability refers to our ability to offer courses in sufficient sections and with sufficient regularity to enable students to take them when they best fit their academic needs and program requirements. An example would be our continued efforts to eliminate the backlog in English and Speech Communication and provide enough seats in core general education courses to accommodate new freshmen and transfers. Problems of availability occur when there are insufficient faculty resources to provide needed courses, when faculty lines are misallocated, or when the curriculum is too broad to be offered with existing faculty resources. It also occurs when departments and academic administrators have insufficient information about student demand to plan appropriately, or do not act on that information to adjust course offerings.
In light of this discussion, enrollment management proposes two major goals and a number of strategies associated with each one. The first goal is to identify students' academic goals including those where a degree is not the goal, monitor student progress on a regular basis and assist students in achieving their desired results.
Recommendation Sixty-four: The Admissions Office and the Office of the Registrar will add a component to application/orientation procedures that allows students to identify goals other than receiving a degree. They will provide information regularly to departments and administration so they can plan for these students. The Office of Institutional Research will report on the achievement of these goals along with the completion rates of degree seeking students. The change to the application, collecting data and the first report of the findings will occur during the 1999-2000 academic year.
Recommendation Sixty-five: The faculty will complete the recommendation on the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum and administration will act upon it by the end of the 1999-2000 academic year. At that time, SCSU will become both a sending and a receiving institution for the MTC rather than only a receiving institution. A proposal will be made to Faculty Association and Meet and Confer in September of 1999.
Recommendation Sixty-six: The Faculty Director of Advising will include in the advising plan within the next academic year a means to work with students who desire to transfer from SCSU to another institution.
The second major goal of this portion of the Enrollment Management plan is to improve 4, 5 and 6 year graduation rates by at least two percent each within four years. To achieve this goal, in addition to implementing the Advising Plan and developing new transitions strategies for undergraduates recommended earlier in this document, faculty, staff and administration must take specific steps to improve student success as measured by time-to-graduation.
Recommendation Sixty-seven: The Office of Institutional Research will provide information to departments and deans about enrollment at the programmatic rather than at the aggregate department level. Methods to code student enrollments at the programmatic level will be developed by Academic Affairs in cooperation with MnSCU requirements and gathered and updated periodically to ensure the accuracy of such reporting. Departments and administration will use this information to track and plan for shifts in student demand. The revised format will be introduced during the Fall 1999 semester.
Recommendation Sixty-eight: The Registrar's Office, Academic Affairs and the Office of Institutional Research will work together to develop a system to predict course demand so that deans and departments can schedule faculty work appropriately and offer sufficient sections of required courses in high demand to achieve enrollment targets and projections. A trial prediction system will be piloted in the Spring 2000 semester.
Recommendation Sixty-nine: Deans and departments will identify during the Fall 1999 semester curriculum bottlenecks for students; "killer" courses which large numbers of students are unable to pass and which prevent them from moving on in their major, courses where demand is consistently greater than seats available, academic majors where student demand is higher than can currently be met. Academic leadership (faculty and administrative) will develop strategies to reduce or eliminate these bottlenecks using existing resources or resources the deans are able to commit within the near future.
Recommendation Seventy: Faculty and administration will reinstate the policy of examining low enrollment programs periodically. The previous MSUS policy mandated an examination once every five years. On the basis of this information, make decisions through normal university procedures as to whether to retain, enhance or eliminate those programs. The first review will be conducted in the Spring semester 2000.
Recommendation Seventy-one: Faculty and administration will hold to the policy that eliminates courses not taught within two years. Remove such courses from the curriculum and reflect that change at the time of printing the next catalog.
Recommendation Seventy-two: During the 1999-2000 academic year faculty in departments will review their semester curriculum now that they have direct experience with offering it and consider ways to recombine or eliminate courses where appropriate. Faculty will streamline the curriculum process for such changes. Administration will agree to recognize work on curriculum revision that eliminates courses as of equal value to developing new courses when documented in the process of evaluation, promotion and tenure.
Recommendation Seventy-three: Faculty and administration will begin discussion through Academic Affairs Council, President's Council and Meet and Confer as to whether there should be any departmental redefinition or reorganization as specified in the contract within the next two years.
Recommendation Seventy-four: Faculty and administration will periodically examine the role of special academic programs such as the Honors Program and the Division of General Studies in terms of how they contribute to student academic success and revise those programs as needed.
Recommendation Seventy-five: In cooperation with the 1999-2000 Strategic Planning Committee, Academic Affairs will begin in the Fall semester 1999 a campus-wide discussion about the academic distinction theme as it relates to student success. How can we deal effectively on our campus with the growing national phenomenon of a perceived gap between students' learning styles and academic expectations and faculty teaching styles and their expectations of student behavior? What does it mean to students for a university to be comprehensive? How does it affect students when some departments do not offer a significant proportion of their approved curriculum within a given year? What does it mean for a department, a college, a university to have a focused curriculum, and is there a value in such focus for students? Is the curriculum too broad if faculty consistently have three or four preparations each semester in order to offer all the courses the department has designed, and how does that affect students' success? What is the relationship between institutional size and academic distinction? What is the ideal enrollment for the next several years, which we can sustain and at which we can provide adequate education and support services to our students? Use the results of this discussion through Academic Affairs Council and Meet and Confer to improve academic policies and practices.
Recommendation Seventy-six: Faculty and administration should reconsider the budgetary and curricular impact of growing enrollment on faculty resources. Either enrollment should be capped or we should quantify new resources created by growing enrollment or base equalization and commit to critical new faculty lines identified by careful analysis from deans and departments as quickly as resources allow. Faculty/student ratios should be held at the current level of 1:22 with a goal of gradual improvement to 1:20. If enrollment continues to grow, add appropriate support staff, supplies and equipment as well.
Underlying many of the recommendations in the major sections of this document are requirements for information needed for planning, monitoring and decision making. The need for accurate, reliable and relevant information has become more acute for the university than at any other time in its history. In today's competitive environment, it is nearly impossible to succeed in strategic management without good information (Keller, 1993). The demands of this plan, external agencies and MnSCU central bureaucracy, as well as the decision-making requirements of executive staff have created a need for more information. Additionally, performance expectations-as expressed by both internal and external clients-have grown and are being communicated in more explicit, narrowly defined ways. "Consumerism" (precipitated by changes in educational funding) has led to an increased demand for information so that students can make informed, educational decisions. As a result, colleges have no choice but to collect and communicate meaningful information about themselves, their students and what they are accomplishing-or failing to accomplish.
The institution's current capacity to support planning, decision-making and customer service (at least from an information infrastructure perspective) is bleak. MnSCU system development focused on providing support for the least complex of the merged campuses. Further, systems were designed with limited user input and thus tend to be based on the governance needs of the central office rather than the information needs of the campus or its students. System modules were developed at a rudimentary level, were implemented piecemeal, and were not connected or integrated to the extent that they should. (For example, personnel and payroll data are not well connected). System development focused on the creation of a complex database rather than the creation of a comprehensive management information system.
As a result, the university will need to embark on an initiative to identify the information requirements of the campus decision-makers and to design an infrastructure to support their needs. The resulting infrastructure should provide information that reflects the needs of those the campus serves-including data about and for these constituents, to assist them with the completion of their educational experience.
Desired outcomes would include: 1) identification of the institution's strategic and management information needs; 2) determination of the sources of relevant data and, if necessary, the creation of processes to collect data not addressed by MnSCU, 3) creation of a user-friendly system to supply the information required; 4) the development of routines for the delivery of information to those responsible for executing strategies, monitoring progress and evaluating policy decisions.
In addition to the information needs identified in earlier sections of this document, we recommend that the Office of Institutional Research undertake the following:
Recommendation Seventy-seven: The Office of Institutional Research and Center for Information Systems will create a process within three years to identify the institution's information requirements, design the necessary infrastructure and provide access to the tools and training necessary to enable the collection and transformation of data into timely, relevant information. This may include supplying data directly to decision-makers in a form that facilitates their own independent analyses.
Additional budgetary requirements for system development should be minimal assuming that departments are committed to work together to find ways to create an information system that meets the needs of the campus. It is critical that the connection between decision-makers and information managers become tighter than it has been in the past.
Teamwork, communication and cooperation are imperative. Data tables will need to be created from the production database and be updated on a quarterly basis. Offices may need to allocate staff time to maintain supplementary tables that will feed into those developed by MnSCU. Data dictionaries will need to be created to facilitate the end-users understanding of the data elements reflected in those tables. Such dictionaries may be developed by extracting information from those created by the central office. It may be necessary to hire additional computer programming support, however, in the event such support isn't forthcoming from MnSCU.
St. Cloud State University is the largest of the Minnesota State Universities. It is committed to excellence in teaching and learning; to fostering scholarship, research and artistic and creative endeavors; and to enhancing community service and collaborative working relationships. As a comprehensive university it serves primarily the citizens of Minnesota; it also functions as a regional university for the Upper Midwest and attracts students from other states and nations.
As an educational community of students, faculty and staff, St. Cloud State University provides a full range of undergraduate and selected graduate programs to prepare students for living and working as responsible citizens. It supports intellectual and scholarly achievement, recognizes the diversity of scholarship of women and various cultural groups, instills a sensitivity to the values of a multicultural and ever-changing world, and provides access to life-long learning experiences.
Goals of St. Cloud State University:
Excellence in Teaching and Learning
- Foster effective teaching and learning as the university's primary mission.
- Enhance academic achievement by strengthening standards in teaching and learning.
- Promote liberal arts and sciences as an integral part of the general education program and many major and minor programs while providing opportunities for specialized learning at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
- Prepare students for leadership and for fulfilling careers.
- Provide knowledge of the social, intellectual and artistic foundations of culture and history.
- Provide all students with skills they need for productive and responsible living, such as creative and critical thinking, problem solving, communication and self-understanding.
- Support a humane, effective and equitable environment for teaching and learning.
- Impart through academic programs an appreciation of both continuity and change.
- Instill a sensitivity and respect for the values of a diverse society and multicultural world and a concern for individual worth and human rights.
- Foster an understanding of the application of technology and scientific methods.
- Develop skills necessary for critical evaluation of information, technology and methodology.
- Provide an opportunity for international awareness including inter-relationships among economics, environment, geography, history, politics, religion, arts and foreign languages.
- Develop methods, program and services to meet the needs of a diverse student body, including an increasing number of non-traditional students.
- Strengthen resources for active learning and opportunities for the application of knowledge.
- Acknowledge a special obligation to the citizens of Minnesota by providing access to life-long learning.
- Promote and foster an understanding of the value of higher education for the purpose of creating a more informed public.
Scholarship, Creative and Artistic Endeavors and Research
- Value the complex inter-relatedness of research, teaching and learning by supporting and recognizing scholarship which strives to discover, integrate, apply and transmit knowledge.
- Support creative and artistic activities as a means of personal and professional development as well as a contribution to the cultural life of the community.
- Provide an environment which will attract and retain quality faculty and staff and support continuing professional development.
- Affirm academic freedom and freedom of inquiry in all of its pursuits.
Service and Collaborative Working Relationships
- Promote understanding of ethical behavior in personal, professional and public life.
- Enhance understanding of a citizen's responsibilities to others, to society and to the environment.
- Provide educational, cultural and artistic opportunities for the region.
- Encourage involved citizenship at the local, state, national and global level.
- Expand our cooperation with other colleges, universities and K-12 institutions in the support and development of quality programs.
- Establish SCSU as the university of choice in Minnesota for students of color.
- Collaborate in the development of educational programs and research endeavors to assist the community and technical colleges, business, industry, governments and other organizations.
University Marketing Position
THE GOAL - New Market Position:
St. Cloud State University will be known as one of the finest state universities in the Midwest and one of the top 10 undergraduate state universities nationally within the next 10 years.
Its student body will be characterized as stronger academically and of better quality than that of the other state universities in Minnesota, and will be diverse by ethnicity and background. Faculty, recruited from the most prestigious universities nationally and internationally, will be recognized for excellence in teaching and student-centered service meeting the highest national standards established for their programs.
Policies and procedures will reflect SCSU's commitment to its student-centered character, and potential students and their families will know SCSU as the most responsive and efficiently run public university in Minnesota.
Program offerings will remain varied, but will be organized to help the University's constituents recognize their applicability to students' career needs and Minnesota's economic development. In addition, the University will be known as one of the best universities for its international emphasis on campus as well as study-abroad programs, up-to-date facilities and equipment, internships and experience-based learning, and a nationally acclaimed Honors program.
Constituents will use words and phrases such as high quality, great education, student-centered, friendly, affordable, solid career preparation, up-to-date, and accommodating to describe SCSU.
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