We continue our enrollment management work with an integrated, strategic and holistic approach to student success that will reverse the decline and begin to rebuild enrollment.
By Marcia Sakai.
As part of a University of Hawai‘i systemwide initiative, UH Hilo is currently developing new ways to be more effective at recruitment, retention, and graduation. Each of the 10 campuses in the statewide UH system is developing their own five-year enrollment management plan specifically designed with appropriate goals for the individual campus.
The good news is that each year we are meeting our ever growing graduation performance targets (set by the UH System). Last year our goal was to graduate 926 students and we exceeded that with 955 students receiving degrees and/or certificates. But this success, while we are absolutely doing what we need to do, has a negative effect on enrollment.
While we at UH Hilo predict enrollment will continue to decline for fiscal year 2018 (on par with national trends), the drop should be smaller for the university than in previous years. Meanwhile we continue our enrollment management work with an integrated, strategic and holistic approach to student success that will reverse the decline and begin to rebuild enrollment.
Through careful planning and constant review and reevaluation of our progress, the campus is moving forward on several actions over the next year.
- Place new admissions counselors for West Hawai‘i and transfer students as part of our redesigned marketing strategy and expanded recruitment on Hawai‘i Island. Expand counselor visits and open houses on neighbor islands, O‘ahu, and U.S. mainland.
- Establish a Transfer Success Center as a one-stop service for advising, credit evaluation and engagement for incoming students.
- Hire a First-Year Experience Director to expand our integrated programs aimed at increasing freshman retention from 71 percent to 75 percent by 2020. Our highly successful residential Living Learning Communities for first year students, with peer tutoring and residential programming, will be made a permanent part of offerings to incoming freshman.
- Expand our successful peer mentoring programs to Marine Science with future programs in Biology and Health Sciences. These proven programs engage entering freshmen and transfer students in their first year, giving them a good academic start, especially in English and Mathematics.
- Start the Starfish student success platform in spring 2018. Starfish is designed to identify students beginning to have academic difficulty through an early alert system, pinpointing areas of concern and connecting the students with appropriate services to stay on track to persist and graduate.
These actions illustrate a strategy in correcting declining enrollment through transitioning New Student Programs into First-Year Experience Programs. For example, by having upperclassmen in the majors serve as peer mentors, our campus goals are supported by 1) providing student employment income to upperclassmen, 2) providing peer support to underclassmen, 3) increasing retention and 4) increasing timely graduation.
Further, it’s important to note that despite decreased enrollment, our Orientation Program and Housing Program both have experienced increases this semester in their respective areas.
More students and their parents participated in this fall semester’s Orientation than last year. Orienting and engaging students early in their college experience contributes to first-year retention so we are very pleased to see this increase.
In Housing, 743 students are housed on campus so far this semester (as of Aug. 22) compared to 672 last year. Of those, 206 are housed in our new Hale ‘Alahonua residence hall compared to 148 last semester. In addition, there is a search in progress for an Associate Director for Residence Life position which will help to increase engagement of resident students.
At its core, all this activity in enrollment management is based on the foundational needs of Hawai‘i Island’s high school students and others to have options in accessing higher education on our island and to then to be successful in their academic endeavors—these are the guiding needs we are answering in these new directions in enrollment management.
We all need to work together—our internal university community and our local community at large—to plan for and implement these new directions in improving recruitment, retention and graduation. Together, we can work toward reversing the decline in enrollment and build a stronger, more accessible university for the people of our island, state and region.
For more information, visit our Enrollment Management website.