Austin Community College District (ACC) provided an update on its strategic enrollment management (SEM) planning process at the September 2021 board meeting. The first phase of the process, conducted between June 2020 and June 2021, focused on identifying ways to enroll new students.
A Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) Recruitment/New Student Enrollment Committee, composed of representatives from across the college, was formed in summer 2020. Their overall task was to develop a three-year comprehensive plan focused on enrolling new students. Learn more about the committee here.
As part of phase one, the committee took a look at the enrollment landscape.
ACC has seen success with enrollment and completion goals:
- A 184% increase in awards conferred from academic year (AY) 2011 to AY2020
- A decrease in the number of years on average to obtain an associate degree to 4.5 years
- A first-time-in-college graduation rate of 22.5%, inching the college closer to its goal of 25%
However, the college experienced a decline in enrollment as part of a national trend of enrollment challenges for community colleges that surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the ACC service area, many high school seniors are choosing not to go to any college after high school, with 53% not attending any public or independent Texas college in fall 2020. Of the 47% who did choose college, 11% chose ACC, down from 14% the year before.
The college surveyed students who applied in fall 2020 but did not attend and found that 76% did not enroll in any college. They listed the top reasons they chose not to attend college as the pandemic (32%), lack of financial aid (26%), and timing (21%).
SEM RECRUITMENT/NEW STUDENT ENROLLMENT PLAN
Based on several factors, the college is focusing on current and urgent strategies to realize an aggressive 6 percent increase in enrollment for AY 2022.
“Some people are second-guessing if this is the right time to attend college as they face uncertainties from the pandemic. Fortunately, ACC has readily available resources — including money for college, high-quality instruction, and compassion — and these are the ingredients for the welcoming climate our students need,” says Dr. Melissa Curtis, associate vice chancellor of Enrollment Management and one of the chairs of the SEM Steering Committee. “We also have tremendous support from our Board of Trustees to achieve enrollment gains in our underserved communities.”
Key additions during the first year included adding new recruiting professionals, creating new paying-for-college outreach, and expanding the CRM to help nurture incoming students.
The committee also identified five components to focus on in the coming year:
- Proactive recruitment and outreach
- Welcome centers and campus tours
- Marketing and communication technology
- Financial aid education and outreach
- Orientation and first-semester advising
The college is currently working on phase 2 of the Strategic Enrollment Plan with a new committee focused on retention and returning student enrollment — as part of the Chancellor’s Priorities.
To follow the SEM process, visit austincc.edu/semc.
Watch the full SEM presentation to the board here.