What is SEM?

Four smiling TCC graduatesMost community colleges offer open access to an array of students, from recent high-school graduates to senior citizens; from those with A averages to those who have GEDs. The colleges encompass not only academic-track programs that transfer to four-year institutions, but also career and technical programs that prepare students for prompt entry into the workplace. Speaking of workplace, community colleges often have partnerships with local businesses and industries to train the workers these businesses need today.

Today, community colleges understand they have to do more than throw open the doors and invite people in. They must put in place policies and systems that are effective at getting students in the pipeline, having them progress toward their educational goals, and ensuring more of them leave with degrees and certificates. This is where strategic enrollment management – or SEM – comes in.

Terri Giltner of Kentucky Community and Technical College System, writes:

“SEM is the realization that colleges need to expand their enrollment focus from just attracting students and encouraging admitted students to enroll, to viewing student admission as the beginning of a relationship that continues through the period of enrollment to graduation and beyond.”

Meaningful touchpoints with students throughout their college careers, according to SEM, will improve academic performance, lead to more degree and certificate completion, and create an engaged and supportive alumni community.

The need for people with post-secondary education is not diminishing. By creating an SEM model tailored to TCC, the college will better meet the academic needs of its students and fulfill its role in the community in creating future generations of college graduates and skilled workers.


“A more sophisticated, integrated approach to marketingCommunity College Times, March 7, 2013

“A Community College Roadmap for the Strategic Enrollment Management Journey,” AACRAO Consulting

“A Practical Guide to Strategic Enrollment Management Planning in Higher Education” Education Policy Institute, 2007