The desire to expand and improve existing resources is not a new phenomenon within higher education, (Hossler, 2004) but is one that has begun to gain attention as institutions increasingly adopt enrollment management (EM) practices. EM is both an organizational concept merged with associated practices that help institutions exercise control over the characteristics of their student bodies (Hossler & Bean, 1990; Hossler, 2004; Kraatz, Ventresca, & Deng, 2010). EM is a controversial trend with varying definitions, values, and drawbacks.
Hossler and Bean (1990) view EM through a far more holistic lens than do Kraatz, Ventresca, & Deng (2010). Kraatz et al. (2010) focus on the organizational structuring of EM and the “consolidation of various administrative functions that have the potential to affect enrollments and tuition revenues” (p. 1524). Hossler and Bean (1990) too see EM as a strategic planning initiative, but know that its practices extend far beyond just admissions and financial aid. Included within their definition of organizational practices are “student college choice, transition to college, student attrition and retention, and student outcomes” (p. 5).
The largest variance in viewpoints between Hossler and Bean (1990) and Kraatz et al. (2010) lies within their perceptions of the goals of EM. It is evident throughout Precarious Values and Mundane Innovations that Kraatz et al. (2010) see EM as an inherently negative practice with questionable values. Kraatz et al. (2010) believe that institutions value the prestige accompanied by enrolling high-achieving wealthy students and tuition revenue most, and use enrollment management to further these agendas. Hossler and Bean (1990) on the other hand, view EM as simply a tool which institutions can utilize to pursue any goal they choose. Each of the authors agree that EM practices are designed to “influence how many and which students enroll in an institution” (Hossler, 2004 p. 3). However, Hossler (2004) realizes that it is also about understanding how to best support and retain students who already attend the institution.
One example of this divergent view is tuition discounting, or the practice of selectively allocating institutional aid in an effort to reduce the cost of attendance (Kraatz, 2010). Through Hossler and Bean’s (1990) view of EM, if an institution were committed to increasing access to underrepresented minorities and individuals from low SES backgrounds, tuition discounting could be used to help eliminate this barrier to attendance. Kraatz et al. (2010) see that tuition discounting is regularly awarded only in the form of merit aid, offering greater discounts to students who are more “academically qualified” (p. 1594). This only reduces the cost of attendance to those who are from high SES backgrounds, as opposed to those for whom a discount would provide access otherwise not available.
Kraatz et al. (2010) see enrollment management as a...