WSU's Strategic Enrollment Management program is a university-wide commitment to improving student experience, retention, and access through outreach, collaboration, and innovative system and process design.

SEM Awards for 2021-2022


President's Distinguished SEM Award:  

SEM Team Awards

Recruitment and Success Program Winners: Coordinated Care Teams

Alicia Newell, Ashlyn Riley, Vaughn Sweet, Stefanie Stallings, Stephanie Cockrell, Chelsea Dey

Academic Program Winners:  Human Resource Management program

Dr. Gery Markova, Dr. Chris Stone

Academic Program Runner Up: Teachers Apprentice Program (TAP)

Recruitment and Success Programs Runner Up: Annual re-registration collaborations

Annual SEM Update - Oct. 22, 2021

by Carolyn Shaw, Associate Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management

SEM History

The original SEM plan was rolled out in the Fall of 2016.  

It continued to evolve as we completed or incorporated new tactics as part of our regular processes.

This Fall marks the end of our fifth year of advancing the original plan, and it has been very successful.  This will be the last report specifically on the goals established in the original plan. 

Slide titled, “SEM History.” Slide is comprised of three bulleted lines of text.    Line one is, “Five-year SEM plan launched in Fall 2016 with six goals and 82 tactics.”  Line two is, “Five new goals and 91 additional tactics added over time.”  Line 3 is, “Spring 2021 – 34 tactics completed, 97 incorporated as standard practices, 38 in process.”


Overall Enrollment

You can see the overall results of our last five years of SEM work in this chart.  Even with the pandemic decline last year, we’ve seen a 7% increase in enrollment since the SEM plan was initiated.

What we have accomplished is particularly impressive when compared with some other institutions, and we are very proud of our work and results. 

Bar chart showing the annual overall enrollment trend from 2015 to 2021. The chart notes that, while the data starts at 2015, SEM actually begins in 2016. Data was gathered from each year’s year of fall census, 20th day. Overall enrollment per year: 2015, 14,495; 2016 (when SEM starts), 14,474; 2017, 15,081; 2018, 15,784; 2019, 16,058; 2020, 15,550; and 2021, 16,097. Data equals an overall enrollment growth of the period of seven percent since 2016.


First-Time-In-College (FTIC)*

This year we celebrate our largest FTIC class in our history - more than 100 students over our previous peak year in 2018.  The recruitment efforts undertaken by our Undergraduate Admissions office throughout the pandemic were remarkable.  Everything from moving DSI fully online in less than two weeks (with a record turnout) to holding countless virtual fairs, tours, FB live sessions and text chats – they pulled out all the stops and then some, and we see the results.  

This giant cohort was met by our First Year Programming staff throughout the summer and welcomed warmly.  They were given financial aid advising by our Financial Aid staff (who were also working feverishly to disperse CARES act and HEERF funding), and they all had their courses scheduled by our First Year Advisors in OneStop.  

Many other offices have also connected with the new cohort and we are thankful for their commitment to serve these students well.

Coming Soon


Goal 1: Develop Activities that Foster a Culture of Enrollment Growth Among Faculty, Staff and Students

Let's look briefly at each of the goals in the original plan.

Goal 1 is actually going to continue as part of the new SEM 2025 plan.  This goal is to promote a culture of enrollment growth on campus.   Establishing personal connections with prospective students and their families is one of the most impactful recruitment methods we have, and anyone can do this.  We see this work done every day, in every office. We have a strong enrollment culture here. 

Coming Soon


Goal 2: Increase Enrollment of Degree-Seeking Underserved Students

Goal 2 has been focused on increasing recruitment of underserved populations, which are roughly half of our overall student population. This involves a variety of efforts to reach different demographics:  first generation students, under-represented minorities, and low-income students.  

To this end, we have dispersed over $20 million in HEERF funds to support over 6,000 students with financial need in the past year.  

This graph shows us both the full population on campus of underserved students (blue line), as well as just the first time in college population (orange bars). With the growth of these students as part of our incoming freshmen class, we hope to see further growth in the full student body,  but the pandemic has made persistence for these students particularly hard. 

Coming Soon


Goal 3: Increase Retention Rates of Degree Seeking Underserved Students

Goal 3 has focused on retention.  Although the goal is specifically framed to retain underserved students, in reality, we recognize we need to retain all of our student populations in order to see overall growth in enrollment.  In many cases, the measures we have undertaken to help our underserved students also help the general student population.

Our efforts take place across many offices.  The CARE team in Student Affairs provides critical engagement with students in crisis;  our Success Coaches connect with students having academic challenges, and our OneStop and college advising centers reach out each semester to contact students who are slow to enroll – answering questions and scheduling appointments.

All of that being said, we still see a notable decline for our underserved students this year over last year.  Part of this can be attributed to the level of preparedness of each incoming class.  The characteristics of each cohort do differ. I expect we will see ongoing challenges in the coming year with students whose senior year in HS was completely disrupted.

Strategies for improving persistence get a lot of attention in the SEM 2025 plan.  We know we can do better. 

Coming soon


Goal 4: Increase Enrollment Along the I-35 Corridor

Goal 4 has been focused on recruitment along the I-35 corridor and we continue to see strong growth here.

This graph shows the number of FTIC students (orange part of the bar), the rest of the undergraduate population (in other words returning students) in the blue, and the graduate population (grey) that come from the I-35 corridor.   Our recruiters in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City continue to build on these numbers.

Coming soon


Goal 5: Increase Non-Degree Seeking for Credit Enrollment
Goal 5 has been to increase our non-degree seeking students. These are students taking badges, Life Long Learning classes, and concurrent enrollment classes among others.  As you can see with the grey bar, we were able to recover the lost high school numbers compared to last year when school started late and we couldn’t enroll them by census. 
Coming soon.


Goal 6: Identify New Programming Leading to Enrollment Growth

Goal 6 has been to identify new programming that leads to enrollment growth.  

You can see the positive enrollment impact of some of these newest programs.  Our new Masters in Human Resources Management has seen considerable growth in a short time, and our Bachelors in Media Arts continues to grow as well.

The brand new Master of Science in Business Analytics has 29 students this Fall, and the new Master of Science in Data Science has 12 new students. 

Coming soon.


Goal 7: Increase Enrollment of New Fall Students in Online Programs

Goal 7 has been to increase enrollments in our online programs.  We currently have 23 online programs which are particularly appealing to returning students who hope to complete their degree but need the flexibility of an online program.  

This graph shows the continuing online majors seen in the blue part of the columns, and the new online majors (in orange).  We saw a dip this year for the first time.

Coming Soon


Goal 8: Increase Enrollment of New Fall Transfers*

Goal 8 has been to increase enrollment of transfer students.  We have almost as many transfer students come to WSU each year as we do incoming freshmen.  Transfers are an important recruitment segment that we continue to focus on.

We are working especially hard to bring students from WSU Tech to WSU to finish their Associates degree and perhaps continue on with a Bachelors degree.  Unfortunately, these numbers continue to decline.  Our efforts are impacted by the continued downward slide in enrollments in two-year institutions in Kansas.

Coming soon

Declining Community College Enrollment

With the passage of the Promise Act by the state legislature, we may see a turn around in these numbers of transfer students. We are prepared to help students who start at a 2-year institution matriculate as seamlessly as possible to WSU.

Coming soon


Goal 9: Increase International Undergraduate Enrollment

The blue line shows that our total numbers have been increasing.  This is due to a significant increase in students abroad who are enrolling in our badge courses.  This can be seen with the rise in the yellow line.

The grey line shows our returning undergraduates.  The decline represents the year over year smaller cohorts we have had for the past four years as these students have graduated.  

The green line is our new undergraduates and we finally got to see an increase in these students for the first time in several years.  International interest in WSU remains very strong and we hope to see these numbers grow again moving forward.

Coming soon.


Goal 10: Increase Enrollment Among Returning Adult Students
Goal 10 has been to increase enrollment among returning adult students (those over 24 years of age).  We have seen a sizeable overall drop in the past six years. This is linked in part to our continuing decline in transfer students, many of whom are returning adults.  
Coming soon


Goal 11: Increase Graduate Student Enrollment
Goal 11 has been to increase graduate student enrollment.  The red bars are doctoral enrollment, the blue are masters level students, and the yellow are non-degree bound students, often pursuing graduate certificates.   We have seen the most growth in masters level students.  Computer science, in particular, saw an explosion in enrollments this fall and we give a shout out to our international office who helped on-board these students and make them feel welcome. 
Coming Soon


SEM 2025: Four Goals

With our Fall ‘21 census, we’ve reached the end of our original SEM plan.  The original plan had 11 goals, many of which were specific to particular offices or areas.  As the SEM committee met last year to look ahead and draft a new plan, we recognized the very collaborative nature of enrollment management work and decided to organize our goals and strategies differently.  We also wanted to simplify the plan by focusing on just four goals.



Four Goals

1. Advance activities that foster a culture of enrollment growth.

We hope everyone on campus sees some of their work reflected in the plan already, and also sees areas where they could contribute in new ways.

Coming Soon

2. Increase enrollment of new, degree-bound students.

Specifically focused on recruitment which was a large component of the original plan.  We’ve done great with this work and that will continue moving forward.

3. Increase persistence rates of degree seeking students.

This was not a major focus of the original plan and we recognize there are many areas where we can do better.  A lot of attention has gone into crafting strategies and objectives under this goal to help retain our students and successfully graduate them.

4. Increase non-degree, for-credit enrollment.

This includes lifelong learning in our senior communities, badges, certificates, and concurrent and guest high school students. 

There are a corresponding 24 strategies and 79 objectives under these goals.

Our plan aligns with our university Strategic Plan, particularly our goal of Student Centeredness, but there are strategies that touch on all five of our University Strategic Goals.  

The plan also aligns with KBORs new Building a Future plan – particularly Pillar 1: to provide an accessible, affordable and impactful higher education for all Kansans.

The full plan is viewable online at

Enrollment Goals

Before wrapping up, I’d like to briefly share the overarching enrollment metrics for the university.

  • For 2025, our enrollment goal is 17,000 students.  For Fall 2020 we had 15,550 (down approximately 500 from 2019).  
  • We’ve identified growth targets for degree bound and non-degree bound students.
  • For degree bound students, we want to grow by 4%, which would add 556 more students by 2025. We will continue to expand our reach along I-35 and I-70, and we hope that with a more welcoming immigration policy, we will be able to grow our international student enrollment again too.
  • For non-degree bound students, we want to grow by 45%, adding 733.  Just to put this in perspective, we saw 150% growth in non-degree enrollment over the past five years, so 45% seems like a realistic goal for more modest growth.
  • It is also critical to move the needle on retention. We anticipate that with new initiatives such as the FYS, OAT, targeted outreach efforts using Navigate, as well as strong faculty engagement, we will see continued improvement.  
  • If we can move our retention numbers from 72% to 75%, we increase our headcount by 200 over the course of 4 years.  
Coming soon.


Enrollment Management Group at WSU

To wrap things up, I want to recognize the work of all who serve on the SEM committee.  This is a list of all of the offices with members who contributed to our new 2025 plan.  The list illustrates how this work touches all areas across campus.  This is highly collaborative work and we cannot be successful without the efforts of everyone.  

We're thankful for the work this group did throughout the pandemic, not only carrying on with the daily work of their areas, but also engaging in deep and reflective conversations to craft our new SEM 2025 plan.  A lot of dialogue and work went into this effort and we're very pleased with the outcome. 

Thanks to EVERYONE for their SEM contributions!

Comments and suggestions are always welcome: Carolyn Shaw:

Coming Soon


October 2020 Presentation


SEM: The Movie (Oct 2020) 

SEM Resources And Links