California Community College

by Luke Lara

I want to say that the San Diego State University Educational Leadership Doctoral Program is incredible. I highly recommend anyone seeking to better understand the higher education system and the role of the community college to enroll in this program. Follow this link for more information. I mention this first because from time to time I will write about something that is related to what I have learned in the program.

Today, in my Law and Finance course, we discussed enrollment management. As a counseling faculty member and former department chair, I have had to deal with enrollment management at my departmental level. I saw words like FTES, WSCH, and FTEF, but NOBODY ever took the time to train me or define these terms for me. Today, I finally understood what all this meant. Enrollment management affects all aspects of the college. The ultimate decisions may lie in Instructional services, but there are so many gears that need to work together so that the college can provide the courses to meet the student needs and stay within the means of its budget. Sounds easy, but now I understand why it felt like a nightmare every time I had to deal with scheduling courses.

I recommend that anyone in the community college pay attention to the following key elements of the enrollment management process:

  1. Know the curriculum development process.
  2. Know when the schedule is determined.
  3. Know when the budget is determined.
  4. Know the formula for budget allocation (e.g., understand the importance of FTES).
  5. Listen to your front-line counseling and admissions folk (e.g., canaries in the coal mine).
  6. Get census/attendance data from Admissions Office.
  7. Know the college’s goals (e.g., master plan – grow, maintain, or reduce enrollment).
  8. Cancelling courses is a lose-lose situation (find incentives for faculty to fill their courses).

Lastly, as my instructor said today, “Everyone else can afford to be careless, but you cannot.” If you are an administrator, you cannot afford to be careless. Be transparent about your goals and help your faculty members understand them.

A faculty member perspective may be more about the immediate (e.g., the class I am teaching today), and the administrator may be more focused on the future (e.g., how will the college be responsive to projected demands one or two years down the road). Working together, we can provide quality education to students now and in the future.

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