The High Price of Higher Ed's Enrollment Management

June 30, 2021

Over the last several decades, an extremely lucrative industry has emerged that has transformed admissions and financial aid practices at both public and private four-year colleges and universities to the detriment of low-income students and students of color alike. Under the sway of the enrollment management industry—private consultants who develop strategies for student recruiting—many colleges are engaged in an arms race for the students they most desire: the “best and brightest” and the wealthiest. As a result of this fevered competition, colleges are devoting fewer institutional aid dollars than they otherwise could and making fewer seats available to students from less privileged backgrounds.

Despite the power and influence of this industry, few people outside of academe (and even many within it) are aware of it or know what it does. As a result, the enrollment management industry has received little attention in federal and state higher education policy discussions despite the pivotal role it has played in making college less accessible.

This blog series aims to lift the veil on the enrollment management industry. The purpose of the series is not to point fingers but to provide policymakers and the public with a much more thorough understanding of an extremely lucrative industry that has made higher education less equitable while staying largely in the shadows.