About SEM WorksFounded in 2004, SEM Works' mission is to provide higher education institutions with objective insight, customized research, and the strategies needed to achieve their enrollment goals.
We have provided enrollment management services for over 500 institutions, including two-year colleges, four-year public and private institutions, graduate and professional schools, proprietary schools, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, college and university systems, as well as specific academic programs.
- Enrollment Management Audit / Consulting, Enrollment Marketing, Market Research, Operational Assessment / Consulting, Strategic Enrollment Planning, Student Recruitment Audit / Consulting, Student Retention Audit / Consulting, Student Services Audit / Consulting, Student Success / Retention
Situational Analysis of the University’s Environmental Context (Internal and External)
Washington State University – Vancouver
Project Description: The project consisted of (a) a Situational Analysis of the University’s environmental context (internal and external) based on a review of available University-supplied information (i.e., strategic plan, environmental scan, organizational structures, enrollment trends, prospective student communications, and related research); (b) a comprehensive audit of the existing enrollment functions and strategies relative to best practices in enrollment management followed by a webinar report of findings and recommendations; (c) stakeholder interviews and constituent focus groups; (d) a Scholarship and Waivers Analysis designed to identify the most strategic use of institutional dollars for the purpose of student recruitment and retention; (e) a Website Competitor Analysis that consisted of a marketing-oriented comparison competitor websites along with a website usability study; (f) a Market Opportunities Survey that provided quantitative information in relation to market segment potential interest in the institution’s programs, the institution’s relative market strength, an understanding of the population demographic composition, and examination of the highest potential population segments in terms of their interest in specific program areas; (g) an Enrollment Goals Analysis; (h) an enrollment leadership retreat; and (i) strategy development sessions with institutional stakeholders. An actionable SEM plan was developed incorporating all of the aforementioned consulting and research service findings. As part of the SEM plan, institutional positioning pillars were identified along with selling points, proof points, outcomes, and effectiveness measures. A marketing value map and SWOT analysis were also included in the plan with other marketing insights.
Project Outcomes: From Fall 2014 to Fall 2017, overall student headcount increased by 8.6%. Fall freshman applications have grown from 551 to 1212 in the past five years. Fall transfer applications have grown from 1033 to 1318 in the past five years. Freshman retention increased from 68.1% in Fall 2014 to 74.8% in Fall 2016.
- Situational Analysis,
- Strategic Enrollment Planning,
- Institutional Positioning Assessment,
- Marketing Assessment and SWOT Analysis,
- Market Opportunities Survey,
- Website Competitor Analysis,
- Website Usability Study,
- Scholarship and Waivers Analysis
Enrollment Practices Review
University of Windsor
Project Description: SEM Works conducted an extensive review of enrollment practices at the University of Windsor. Working in partnership with the University of Windsor, SEM Works designed and administered a survey (Market Opportunity Analysis) with the purpose of garnering insights on prospective student demand for the University’s programs (existing and new) and perceptions of the institution’s positioning relative to competitors. These insights informed the development of targeted strategies for student recruitment, marketing, and communications. Lastly, SEM Works collaborated with Institutional Analysis to establish enrollment goals at the University and college levels as well as by target student populations. The combination of these consulting and research activities informed the development of a comprehensive, integrated, and actionable plan that is aligned with the University’s desire for enrollment growth.
Project Outcomes: From Fall 2016 to Fall 2017, overall enrollment increased by 9.8%.
- Market Opportunity Analysis,
- Enrollment Practices Review,
- Enrollment Goal Development
Comprehensive Strategic Enrollment Planning, Retention Planning and Competitive Analysis / Program Demand Project
Gateway Technical College
Project Description: The scope of the initial project included functions and services impacting enrollment, with particular attention to the following thirteen primary performance areas defined in the RFP:
- Establish and institutionalize a strategic enrollment planning model with the necessary research that can reinforce and support the College's program mix, including a competitive analysis and a program demand study.
- Develop and implement a comprehensive goal- and strategy-driven annual recruitment plan.
- Develop and implement a comprehensive retention plan with supporting diagnostic and survey tools.
- Assist in establishing clear goals as it relates to all aspects of enrollment management including, but not limited to, recruiting, retaining and graduating students and division/program metrics.
- Conduct a comprehensive operations/customer service analysis to identify ways to be even more efficient and effective in attracting and retaining students.
- Assist in identifying the right data to collect to best manage enrollment.
- Provide guidance and assistance in identifying and monitoring key enrollment indicators. Create a dashboard of key enrollment indicators to be used to make informed ongoing enrollment decisions.
- Review and modify, as necessary, current communications flow for students at each stage of the decision-making process.
- Perform an analysis and provide recommendations for ongoing website and social media advancements.
- Develop fiscally minded strategies and tactics to meet enrollment goals, which include: quantifying impact of goals on enrollment & revenues; quantifying the cost of resource investments; and using predictive modeling to assist in rationalizing institutional resources appropriately.
- Ensure the development and implementation of the strategic enrollment management plan includes all stakeholders, including staff, faculty and administrators.
- Ensure the strategic enrollment management plan includes the development of an internal communication plan.
- Provide training as appropriate.
Upon completion of the initial project, the College decided to contract with SEM Works for additional services. These services consisted of consulting to facilitate the implementation of the SEM plan, conducting multiple student focus groups to test brand messaging, the development of eighty-five electronic communications (which included stakeholder interviews to harvest content, writing, design, coding, and project management), and the creation of a marketing campaign plan.
Project Outcomes: As of the President's Report in June 2018, enrollment is trending upward (+2.0%). This follows consecutive years of enrollment declines, similar to those at most two-year institutions nationwide.
- Strategic Enrollment Planning,
- Competitor Analysis,
- Program Demand Study,
- Recruitment Plan Development,
- Retention Plan Development,
- Operations/Customer Service Analysis,
- Enrollment Management Goal Planning,
- Social Media Audit,
- Communications Audit,
- Communications Flow Development,
- Communications Development,
- Marketing Campaign Planning,
- Market Research,
- Student Focus Groups
US Student Market Research Survey
University of Toronto
Project Description: SEM Works administered a survey to potential students in the United States to determine the best market opportunities for the University and identify targeted strategies to improve new student enrollments among this population. The report included sample demographics, perceptions of the University, experiences with the University, preferred universities or colleges, factors effecting school choice, and regional comparisons, just to name a few. Based on the research findings, SEM Works led a presentation for campus leaders of the findings and related recommendations to increase stakeholder buy-in.
Project Outcomes: One year after the study, the University of Toronto’s enrollment of U.S. residents grew by 50% (from 600 to 900 students).
- Market Research Survey
Mar 31, 2021
"Experienced, Informed Consultant for Enrollment Management"
Dr. Black is extremely well informed and experienced in the enrollment management, recruiting and retention arenas. He looks at all aspects of the client. Observing him during the audit phase of our engagement I was impressed with how many departments and divisions of college he engaged. I found some of his contacts curious but it all came together in his audit presentation.
Mar 27, 2021
"SEM Works was great in helping us build a working SEM program"
Jim was extremely flexible in building his plan to help us. We supplied him with initial data and he did all the rest. I designed his sessions with the college based on our data and our needs. He is extremely likable and friendly. Everyone who interacted with him not only enjoyed spending time with him, but also thought our investment was worth every penny. When most colleges were seeing a COVID decline in the Fall of 2020, we did not. His help and guidance went a long way in making that happen.
Mar 26, 2021
"Knowledge and engagement"
Jim actively engaged my staff throughout the project. His presentation to our Council of Trustees was well received and he met all the deadlines. He gave me regular updates during the project duration. Overall, a very professional and productive consultation.
Mar 15, 2021
"Excellent Customer Service"
Dr. Black has been fantastic to work with. He is very knowledgeable and his wealth of experience provides insight into new and innovative ways to improve enrollment. He was willing to confront administration on things that needed to be addressed in a way that helped them understand the importance of the work we were doing and the recommendations he was making.