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From the previous chapter, it was exposed that the ultimate goal of Fresno Pacific University (FPU) is to increase enrolment. However, to achieve this goal, the university must make some changes to its organizational approach by trying new ideas and strategies. Thus, the chapter focused on the organizational background and final choice for the university.
This second chapter provides a literature review on how FPU can increase its college student enrolment through various key strategies. It looks at the history of enrolment of students at the university. It also looks at its current elaborate plan to enhance enrolment. Finally, this chapter discusses the key strategies that have been implemented by other institutions to gauge how FPU can equally enforce them to grow its own student enrolment.
Fresno Pacific University Student Enrolment
Fresno Pacific University (FPU) recorded the highest number of admission in 2014. Compared to the previous year, it admitted an additional 257 students to its record. This move accounts to about 7 percent increase. More importantly, the campus is enrolling more than 3,700 students for the first time. The rise in enrolment followed the introduction of new bachelor degree programs, particularly healthcare administration and social work. While traditional undergraduate students slightly dropped, graduate students increased in good numbers.
In addition, the growth of graduate students was enhanced by the increase in internship programs, which the institution has embarked on promoting aggressively. Other factors that equally contributed to the rise in enrolment included committed faculty, quality academics, utilization of educational technology, enhancement of facilities, and introduction of global MBA programs. It also shows that prospective students saw a lot of progress at the university and a bright future for its students (Fresno Pacific University, n.d).
FPU has enrolled students since 1944 when it was started. According to Fresno Pacific University (n.d), although there has been a slight increase in the number of students enrolling to the institution, the current figure shows reluctance in the enrolment management upon considering the number of years it has been in existence. There has not been aggressiveness to reach out to a large population of students. Indeed, several reasons reveal this situation.
Mainly, FPU has typically enrolled students generally from within California. It has not done enough marketing and advertisement to attract prospective students beyond the boundaries of the state. Equally, the institution has been slow in its pace to introduce new education programs that can persuade pre-professional students to enroll. In addition, unlike many upcoming universities that have open admissions, FPU restricts its enrolment timeframe. It does not allow students to join when the semester has begun. Although the retention rate is high, there is a need for new strategies to improve student admissions.
Currently, according to Fresno Pacific University (n.d), FPU has implemented some strategies to grow its enrolment. One such improvement is the recently instituted campus service. Some of these added services include health insurance for the students, 24-hour security, and non-remedial tutoring. It has also enhanced health and placement services and emergency assistance for the students. More importantly, it is now offering a financial aid to its students. It also gives grant awards and partial scholarships to the designated students. Generally, only about 10 percent of the students are not on these financial aid programs.
Key Strategies to Increase Student Enrolment
There is a substantial literature that presents key strategies that academic institutions deploy to boost student enrolment. Every year, at the commencement of the first and consecutive semesters, institutions compete not only in terms of luring high-ability students but also for a larger student population. This move explains why most schools have come up with new strategies to grow student enrolment. Many campuses have introduced online applications to reach out to a larger population beyond their traditional borders.
Some institutions have literally allowed open admissions. Others have heavily discounted student fees. Yet, others allow admissions well into the semester. These examples illustrate how much it is important to the institutions to increase student enrolment. Certainly, without enough student population, schools will have to lay off some of their qualified staff. It will also mean that schools that have a lower yield will lose to those that have a large population in terms of private gifts and financial aid awards among others.
According to Stefuriuc (2009), the one most important factor that both parents and students consider when discerning the right learning institution to settle on is the school’s ‘academic profile’. Although other factors are equally significant, the quality of education takes precedence. Enhancing academic excellence is one positive ways of attracting more students to enrol in a school. Thus, when learning institutions increase their enrolment goals, they will most likely prioritize the class profile to attract the highest-ability population and/or consider other supplementary factors.
Implementing high-admission standards is a key factor towards improving the academic status. However, colleges must realize that raising the entry standards can have devastating effects on the enrolment goal. In effect, a high academic status does not necessarily lead to an increase in student enrolment, especially if the process is not well determined and/or researched. Engel (2013) gives an example of a college, which sought to increase the enrolment by raising the academic status.
However, it ended up losing a significant new student population. The enrolment management decided to raise the minimum entry points by 10 points to grow its student enrolment. Within three years, as expected, it succeeded in improving its academic quality. Regrettably, it suffered a major setback because it ended up shrinking the student enrolment number by more than 15 percent (Engel, 2013). This finding shows that there must be a balanced approach between academics and the enrolment for whatever strategy (Engel, 2013).
Further, learning institutions must realize that growing enrolment by improving academic profile has its own major challenges. As mentioned, one of them is how to adopt a balanced approach when enforcing a particular strategy. If the academic standards for entry are raised, one probable challenge will be how an academic institution can outdo its competitors and emerge top of them.
It will also have to deal with lower yields, which will definitely follow if it increases the entry points. In addition, it will have to find a way to compensate that vacuum for the eliminated student population. Thus, when making major changes to the enrolment strategies, it is imperative that schools conduct a comprehensive research about the new changes to determine how they would influence the enrolment outcomes.
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FPU should ultimately consider how increasing entry standards might influence the enrolment number for a particular year compared to the previous years. If it is determined that it will lower the enrolment number, FPU must then establish other strategies that will supplement the academic quality (Engel, 2013). Currently, the campus has an elaborate plan to raise its enrolment. For instance, it intends to raise the number of students who are enrolling in the school by more than 1,500 within five years.
Strategies for Improving Academic Profile
According to Karnjanakitti, Yodmongkon, and Chakpitak (2011), one way to improve the academic profile is to develop a website that emphasizes pre-professional programs to attract high-ability students. Secondly, schools such as FPU can raise their academic standards by instituting internship programs for their students. Third, they can introduce scholarship programs for students who perform well. Forth, they can increase enrolment through improving academic status by introducing honors programs to motivate, retain, and attract academically able students (Karnjanakitti et al., 2011).
The simplest way to increase enrolment is by marketing the institution. With new technologies such as the media and the internet, it is quite easy to reach out to the target market. Karnjanakitti et al. (2011) assert that changes in technology are having significant impacts on the marketing experiences. Most modern schools are largely developed by tremendous revolution in technology.
This rapid growth of technology has accelerated the gathering and processing of information, thus facilitating an outburst in marketing. For example, as Hettche and Clayton (2014) reveal, creating a school website is a very significant marketing approach since many people get to know about the institution from wherever they are without travelling to the physical location to inquire more about it. Besides, facilitating faster access to information and internet can also increase student enrolment. Majority of parents today register their students in schools, pay their fees, and interact with the administration online.
They also check the current programs in an attempt to fill the applications through the internet. This strategy simply shows that schools can use the internet to reach parents and students. Therefore, the internet offers the platform for institutions to market themselves. The platform leads to a high enrolment turnout. Thus, they should invest in improving their image by advertising through social media and the internet to grow enrolment. Moreover, through social media and the internet, schools can get a great deal of referrals, thereby boosting their enrolment.
Secondly, schools can advertise and market themselves beyond their websites by writing articles, journals, and many educative editorials, which capture anything that they (schools) are highly ranked in such as academics, sports, and/or special programs (Akeusola, Daniel, & Iyere, 2011). These write-ups do not require so much money. However, they do a lot in terms of marketing and advertisement. The idea is that schools should make an effort to shine in social media and the internet. They should be visible in the search engine so that that parents or students do not miss them out among the top or at least on the list when they search a particular subject or program.
According to Akeusola et al. (2011), institutions can increase student enrolment by enhancing diversity. This strategy is important in two ways. One, diversity can increase enrolment through quantity by creating an environment that can appeal to all genders, races, various ethnic groups, mixed economic classes, and all other diversified groups. This strategy will automatically increase the population of students.
Two, Akeusola et al. (2011) confirm that diversity can also enhance quality because students from different backgrounds come with different energies, experiences, expectations, and abilities. This quality of education will attract more students. In addition, a diverse learning environment attracts tolerance, creativity, innovation, and agility. These developments in diversity certainly lead to an increase in student enrolment. Hence, a more diverse institution is associated with a larger population and higher quality of education (Sheets, 2014).
Hovdhaugen (2013) analyzes the subject of student retention. Before enforcing an enrolment strategy, the institutions must first know how to retain the existing students. It will be of no value recruiting new students when a school cannot retain the already admitted students. Therefore, schools such as FPU should concentrate significantly on student retention even as they seek to enrol more students.
This plan will not only be cost effective in the sense of spending less to retain students as opposed to recruiting new ones, but will also motivate prospective students because they will be seeing a brighter future. According to Pearson (2012), retention requires the offering of satisfactory services and quality education to students. It is about assisting students to accomplish their educational goals from day one until they graduate. When this plan is properly executed, it will send the strongest marketing message to many students who are looking for new schools.
Other retention strategies include celebrating and communicating the accomplishments of the institution. If successes have been achieved, it is wise to communicate them to students so they can be aware. This move can be a major drive towards retaining students since they will see the progress of the school. Creating an environment where every student feels comfortable can also help in retaining students. If campuses can manage to retain the already admitted students, they can easily increase the enrolment of new students (Stefuriuc, 2009).
Alkandari (2014) confirms that high education fees will turn away parents from enrolling their children to some institutions. With high costs of living and the rising wages, many parents find it unbearable to keep their children in expensive schools. For some students, circumstances have also forced them to contribute towards paying their fees (Alkandari, 2014). Factors such as the reduction of subsidies and the amount that is lent to students have further worsened the situation. Hence, the biggest roadblock to high enrolment turnout is the burden of high cost of education. With strained incomes for many families, many parents cannot afford to pay high costs of college. As a result, they settle on cheaper colleges.
According to Archuleta, Dale, and Spann (2013), high education cost has been shown to be the leading stressor for students. Although students in some countries can borrow loans to finance their education, their worry arises when they begin to think of how they will repay the accumulating amount. It is even more stressing when they begin to consider the high rate of unemployment that awaits them after graduation. Accordingly, different surveys show that financial stress for students is among the top four student stressors (Shireman, Baum, & Steele, 2012).
Nevertheless, schools can address this situation of financial stress to grow their enrolment through a number of ways. One, they can raise enrolment by offering financial aid to prospective students. This strategy will entice many financially stressed students. Two, they can increase admissions by lowering education costs. Three, schools can also improve enrolment by introducing awarding strategies to attract more students. Finally, campus must set up strategies that can create a supportive environment for low-income students (Cellini, 2010).
Based on the literature review, for Fresno Pacific University to increase student enrolment, it has to make some aggressive yet balanced strategies. With its elaborate plan to grow admissions, FPU can also maximize on the key strategies that have been used by other universities to raise enrolment. Raising academic profile is very important because academic excellence is the ultimate goal of every student. Therefore, building quality academic status can be a sure way to lure prospective students to enrol to the institution. Other factors such as offering financial aid to needy students, giving grant awards, and scholarships to the deserving students, enhancing diversity, student retention, and marketing of the institution have been declared equally important in growing enrolment.
Student enrolment is a fundamental factor that influences growth of learning institutions. Many colleges have come up with various strategies to increase admissions. In particular, Fresno Pacific University (FPU) has implemented a number of strategies to raise its enrolment that has since seen the number of students increase by 7 percent at the fall of this year. It has also set up an elaborate plan to increase enrolment by 1,500 within the next five years.
Some of these aggressive strategies include widening its educational programs, enhancing campus services, opening undergraduate programs for the working adults during the evening hours, offering financial aid and grant awards, and setting up a committed faculty. Nevertheless, FPU should implement several key strategies to cause a significant increase in student enrolment. They include raising academic profile, marketing and advertising, enhancing diversity, and student retention to tap more high-ability students.
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