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IU’s online education efforts honored by national association

Indiana University’s Office of Online Education enrollment management and student services team has been honored by a national education organization for its work on seamless, supportive and collaborative admissions, enrollment and student services.

The 2023 Excellence in Enrollment Management Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association recognizes an outstanding professional, continuing or online organization that models best practices and combines process excellence with superior results. Award recipients will be honored at the 2023 Marketing, Enrollment Management and Student Success conference Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, in Portland, Oregon.

“Being recognized for our work in this space is truly an honor and a recognition of successfully implementing a vision for serving students that began almost four years ago,” said Whitnie Powell, director of enrollment management and student services in the Office of Online Education.

On the nomination form, the team described its approach: “Creating excellence in the world of enrollment management goes so far beyond exceeding enrollment targets. It involves innovation, integration, student focus, seamless experiences and culture.”

Also, the team said it’s creating a “strong fail-forward and fast culture that values each individual’s contributions, talents and diversity of experience through open dialogue, rapid continuous improvement and a core value of reducing friction.”

By creating a centralized model of marketing, enrollment management, student financial services, onboarding, academic advising, operations systems and success coaching, IU Online has created a smoother process for students, process, staff and faculty, enhancing the experience for everyone. This strategic approach is generating impressive enrollment results, including a 21.8% increase in new online undergraduate students and a 22.9% increase in online collaborative graduate students in fall 2023.

“This award affirms the excellent work the IU Online team has done over the past year. Their work focused on Pillar One in the IU 2030 strategic plan: student success and opportunity,” said Susan Sciame-Giesecke, vice president for regional campuses and online education. “Our goal is to ensure that all online students have the support they need to realize their dream of a college degree.”

The new approach also had a positive impact on returning students in fall 2023, with a 9.1% increase in returning online undergraduate students, a 32.4% increase in returning online collaborative graduate students and an overall online degree-seeking retention rate of 83%. This was accomplished while maintaining a 95% student satisfaction rating, according to the Online Learner Expectations Survey. Additionally, the office’s enrollment management and student services team has grown from six full-time staff members in January 2020 to 41 by the summer of 2023.

“This growth is directly correlated to the student-first growth mindset that has led to development of seamless services and handoffs, implementation of always-on wrap-around services, enhanced communications, and a palpable positive energy that translates into the enrollment growth and student success that has allowed the maturing of the model,” the team said in the nomination form.