SEMM 2018

  • Enrolment Management, Recruitment & Engagement

    The 2018 Strategic Enrolment Marketing & Management Forum offers two full days of workshops and presentations by leading authorities from across Canada and beyond.

    Take advantage of this opportunity to invigorate your campus with fresh thinking about recruiting, engaging, and retaining today’s students.

    Bring your colleagues to share in the discussion and come away with an expanded network of industry experts and peers you can count on to support your success.

    Register Now!

  • The Program

    Learn from recent case studies, discover current research, and explore best practices at SEMM 2018.

    The SEMM Forum is your opportunity to:

    • Explore post-secondary enrolment trends
    • Share marketing and advertising case studies
    • Discover effective recruiting tactics
    • Learn strategies to create an effective brand
    • Examine emerging technologies affecting student recruitment
    • Understand today’s students and how to connect with them

    Register Now!

  • Who Should Attend?

    The SEMM Forum attracts people from many areas across campus, including:

    • recruitment
    • enrolment services
    • admissions
    • registrar’s office
    • international recruitment
    • student success centres
    • financial aid
    • academic advising
    • marketing & communications
    • student life
    • career development
    • and more.

    Register Now!


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2017 Program (2018 Program To Be Announced)

  • Day 1:
    Click on titles for full descriptions
    8:00 - 8:45
    Registration & Breakfast
    8:45 - 9:00
    Opening Remarks
    9:00 - 10:00
    Eliminating the Surprises in Enrolment Management
    The higher education landscape is changing very rapidly. Institutions are being challenged to make strategic and tactical decisions by accessing key data. The answer is not just in having data but determining if it is in a form that becomes actionable information. This presentation will guide you through key data you must use to both forecast and impact your future enrolment results. Do you ever wonder if you have the right data? Do you really know the impact of marketing, recruitment, financial aid, and retention initiatives on your overall enrollment results? Are you confident that your data provides a clear picture of your enrolment situation and an accurate forecast of your institution’s enrolment? This program will address these questions and recommend the data/metrics you should monitor throughout the enrolment process. Come and minimize future enrolment surprises!
    10:15 - 11:15
    Gauging Your SEM Readiness
    One of the hottest topics in higher education today is strategic enrollment management (SEM). Leaders at nearly every college or university are talking about how to implement SEM, write a SEM plan, or otherwise benefit from SEM’s incredible potential for meeting the enrollment challenges so many of us face. A key question is: How do we lead or support SEM on our campuses? This session will help you to estimate your institution’s SEM readiness by taking the AACRAO Assessing Institutional Readiness for SEM self-audit, finding your location on the SEM Transition Model (adapted from Dolence, 1993), and introducing you to further resources on how to implement SEM at your institution.
    10:15 - 11:15
    Terms of engagement: Harnessing social media and student research to support enrolment strategy
    More than ever before, student recruitment in today’s PSE environment requires marketing and communications teams and strategic enrolment teams to unite behind a clear vision for their school. While these professionals might have traditionally worked in different silos at some institutions, Canada has seen strong examples of MarComm and SEM teams working hand-in-glove to attract the best students. One area that has brought these professionals together is the ever-changing realm of social media. Kayla Lewis of Seneca College and Philip Glennie of Academica Group discuss best practices and highlight examples of collaboration, including how research and analytics can lay the foundation for effective social media strategies that support strategic enrolment priorities.
    10:15 - 11:15
    Master Content Marketing in Higher Education
    The rise of digital and social media platforms has enabled prospective students and parents to research and make education decisions on their own. In this new environment, content marketing is one of the best ways to engage prospects early in the decision process and drive leads for your programs.

    However, most schools are faced with siloed departments, tight resources and lengthy processes that can make content marketing seem daunting. As Higher Education Lead for Linkedin Marketing Solutions Canada, Graeme Owens helps schools across the country to navigate these challenges and create relevant content that engages the audiences that matter most.

    In this presentation, you will learn some tips, tricks and best practices that you can take back to your campus and leverage across all of your content channels.
    11:30 - 12:30
    Creating and Sustaining a Compelling, Marketing-Oriented Web Presence
    According to the research conducted by SEM Works with thousands of prospective students, no other marketing channel is used more by them than institutional websites. Regardless of age or student type, institutional websites are the source most often cited as the venue through which the college search begins. For this reason, your website is your institution’s most valuable marketing asset and thus, warrants investment and a well-developed strategy. Website strategy should include an external marketing orientation, a compelling value proposition, key selling points, audience segmentation, audience engagement, prominent calls to action, and strong visual impact at both the institutional and academic program levels. Best practices associated with marketing will be the focus of this session along with the infrastructure required to create and sustain a compelling web presence.
    11:30 - 12:30
    Build a More Targeted, Data-Driven SEMM Strategy
    In today’s ever-changing digital marketing landscape, schools have been losing ground by using mass marketing strategies online. Join Student Life Network and CampusRankings as we explore the insights gained and implementation taken from our research study conducted with over 40,000 post-secondary students from across Canada. You'll walk away with an action plan to...

    - Determine which of your organizational KPIs drive student lifetime value (LTV), so that you can more effectively measure your SEMM performance
    - Discover which student segments have the highest and lowest LTV, and use this to more effectively focus your marketing
    - Conduct online marketing with look-a-like segments to achieve a higher average student LTV at a lower cost to your school
    - Take away a new student-centric strategy to improve your SEMM outcomes by using data
    11:30 - 12:30
    What about WIL? Positioning work-integrated learning (WIL) within enrolment strategies
    Canadian postsecondary students are seeking schools, programs, and experiences that will prepare them for success in the labour market. More than ever, students are pursuing authentic work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities – such as co-ops, internships, and field experience – to ensure a smooth transition into the workforce after graduation. In this session, we’ll share some of HEQCO’s latest research examining barriers that students face when considering or participating in WIL programs and institutional strategies for mitigating them. Reflecting on these findings, the workshop will prompt participants to consider how they can position WIL success stories and programs as part of their institutional enrolment strategies.
    12:30 - 1:30
    1:30 - 2:20
    SEM - Establishing a Plan With Grit
    The early days of many SEM Committees are spent talking about some pretty apparent causes of missed enrolment goals; -Why do student's struggle in math? -Where should we be advertising? -What could some extra recruiting do for us?

    In reality, most well-meaning SEM teams fail and it is not out of a lack of passion or commitment but typically because their plan relies too much on influencing the behaviour of the people around them and not enough on creating the conditions for change to happen. Courageous SEM discussions around program mix, sun-setting weak programs, re-evaluating the effectiveness of services, positioning our "product," in the market place and positioning our offerings as a commodity remain elusive for many SEM teams.

    In a future of declining demographics and increased sustainability pressure, SEM teams will need to build some of this gritty dialogue into their planning in order to be effective largely because geography and a plethora of learners banging down the door are disappearing. This session will explore the tough and courageous side of building an SEM strategy that is warm and fuzzy enough to build buy-in but gritty enough to support change and success.
    1:30 - 2:20
    "Brand" Is NOT an Ugly Four-Letter Word
    Afraid to use the word 'brand' in internal meetings? Used to seeing eyes glaze over when you speak about 'positioning', 'promise' or 'story'? As many in the #HigherEd sector know, it is extremely important for a university or college to clearly define and consistently promote their brand. With digital channels like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, tumblr,, as well as 'branded' content being created by many within the institution (i.e. students, professors, recruitment officers, etc.), brand leadership and ownership is even more uncontrolled or mismanaged than ever before. The lack of focus and brand inconsistency is rampant... be it through the diverse mix of channels used to recruit new students, or across the institution, or within specific departments themselves.

    In this session we'll discuss what's happening - good and bad - with institutional brands, and how to ensure alignment and flexibility. We'll discuss why an institution needs to focus on that evil four-letter word, and how to support 'brand' through all engagement channels. We'll also talk about how to give the 'power to the people' without affecting the integrity of the brand. Coming out of this session, you'll be able to comfortably say the word 'brand' in the halls of your institution, give people a strong reason why it's so important, and see the impact of a well defined and unique institutional brand.
    1:30 - 2:20
    English Language Learners: Unequipped or Underestimated?
    The demographic make-up of the student body at post-secondary institutions across the country has become increasingly diverse in recent years. Students are coming to us from all over the world and in many cases their first language is not English. Whether they are new immigrants or international students the language barrier for these English Language Learners (ELL) can create similar challenges. While many have established language skills programming to support students in their transition and skills development, the academic success of these students is a common question and concern. A review of the academic performance of ELL after their first year of study at the University of Toronto Mississauga helped us identify:

    1. how these students performed in comparison to their peers
    2. opportunities for new/enhanced communication skills programming
    3. how we could support/enhance our admission processes

    This presentation will demonstrate the importance of data driven decision making in all elements of strategic planning for student success and how a strong statistics team positioned within the Office of the Registrar can have a significant impact on strategic enrollment management.
    2:35 - 3:30
    Institutional Accountability in Agent Management
    Reliance on agents to support and/or exclusively conduct international recruitment has grown substantially over the decade - as has agent fraud. This session will review strategies to help educational institutions mitigate risk through careful selection, vetting, training, oversight & contract development in your international recruitment program.
    2:35 - 3:30
    The Strategic Enrolment Planning Imperative
    Canadian institutions are facing a challenging and highly competitive future enrolment environment. This presentation will give an overview of these challenges and recommend both strategic and tactical initiatives to attract students to your campus. Included in the presentation will be key factors in post-secondary institution choice, recommendations for using data management to minimize surprises, and specific tips on building and shaping enrolment. Recommendations for utilizing institutional resources will also discussed.
    2:35 - 3:30
    Leveraging National Associations to Support Program Branding and Engagement
    Communication disconnections between academic instructors and senior administration, as well as a lack of a national driver, can cause barriers to large scale discipline improvements beyond competency related matters. As a result, silos and inefficiencies develop with program’s focusing on locally relevant change. Alternatively, programs may slowly implement trending information, processes and techniques as passive late adopters. Either way, the delayed outcome can brand a discipline across time and the profession as less attractive to potential students. To support consistency in discipline-specific messaging, academics and administrators can leverage the knowledge of professional societies and associations. This under-tapped source represents an area of opportunity to support branding and increase student retention.

    Through the example of the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science and the Simulation and Clinical Placement Initiative, this presentation will provide the audience with a concrete example of how to leverage a national society to support large-scale change through purposeful involvement, knowledge transference and networking projects. As a direct advantage of the Initiative, medical laboratory science programs are increasing simulation within their curricula in alignment with the health science trend, collaborating more with other programs and clinical settings, sharing information that would have previously been considered proprietary, and, in general, participating in a national movement. An indirect outcome was the increase in student-centred projects and inclusion in program development, and the natural development of an updated language to describe the profession.
    3:45 - 4:45
    What Students Are Thinking: Six Things You Should Know
    Maclean’s magazine this year surveyed more than 23,000 post-secondary students across Canada to get their perspectives on their education, campus life, money and whether they feel prepared for life after school. This session will offer insight into a number of surprising findings from the survey and what they illustrate about what students value in an education. Plus, we’ll answer any thorny questions about the magazine’s annual rankings themselves.
    4:45 - 5:00
    Closing Remarks
  • Day 2:
    Click on titles for full descriptions
    8:00 - 8:45
    8:45 - 9:00
    Opening Remarks
    9:00 - 10:00
    SEM in Canada: Who’s at the Wheel?
    Who are Canada’s SEM professionals? What are their best practices and how do they make decisions about their school’s SEM strategy? While there is much information on how Strategic Enrolment Management is practised within the United States, less exists on how different Canadian institutions practice SEM on both a long-term and day-to-day basis.

    This talk will draw insights from Academica’s propriety survey-based research on Canadian SEM professionals to learn more about which staff members drive SEM, how many schools have multi-member SEM committees, and other questions pertaining to who is truly at the forefront of SEM in Canada. This research will offer attendees the opportunity to learn more about how SEM is practised at schools large and small, and will also address common challenges, such as the need to make more time for strategic planning within SEM teams.

    Topics will include the development of multi-year SEM plans, the supporting of those plans with data and benchmarking against comparator institutions, the crucial role of SEM committees, and what higher ed professionals believe SEM actually means within the context of their institution. Finally, the talk will establish the three key ingredients for breaking down silos and successfully practising SEM at any institution.
    10:15 - 11:15
    Creating and Executing Kick-Ass Content Marketing Campaigns
    Seth Godin contends that “content marketing is the only marketing left”. He’s probably right, given Forbes magazine estimates that the average person sees between 3,000 and 20,000 ads and brand messages per day. Marketers, therefore, need to know how to create content that will attract and engage target audience(s) and know how, where and when to deploy that content to maximize its impact.

    In this session, Chris Wilkins and Lauren Lord of The SchoolFinder Group will lead a detailed discussion with specific tips and proven best practices about how campus marketers and recruiters can create and deploy content at every stage of the student recruitment process—from high school to grad school. Actionable take-aways for you and your campus colleagues include how to:

    - Come up with great content ideas;
    - Craft titles that will capture attention;
    - Choose the style of content that best suits each topic and each audience (e.g. tips vs webinars);
    - Write engaging content designed for mass sharing;
    - Determine how, where and when to deploy each content type for each segment of your target audience.

    The presentation will include findings from original research conducted in the Fall of 2017 with The SchoolFinder Group’s community of students, parents and guidance counsellors will be presented. They’ll cover some of the participants’ most commonly asked questions regarding the post-secondary selection process, as well as what distribution channels are effective in reaching these audiences.
    10:15 - 11:15
    From Application to Admission to Attending: Campus-wide Collaboration and Support for Aboriginal Students
    Concerns about Indigenous or Aboriginal people’s participation and completion of post-secondary education are well documented. At the University of British Columbia's Okanagan Campus, Enrolment Services and Aboriginal Programs and Services have joined in partnership to develop and implement a Supportive Admissions Framework for Aboriginal students.

    In this presentation, participants will hear from Admissions personnel and Aboriginal Programs and Services personnel about how the program was developed and how it is implemented in each admissions cycle. The presenters will also outline the work that was done with the University’s Faculties and Senate to bring the initiative into being. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of the presenting panel and develop relationships and networks. Lastly, we will present the program’s application, yield and retention data.
    10:15 - 11:15
    Academic Program Planning to Support Strategic Enrolment Management Objectives
    Many articles and books about SEM briefly mention the importance of program planning but don't delve into how to develop a SEM-based academic program plan. This presentation will provide research and examples to support why a different approach to academic program planning is needed, a step-by-step approach to academic program planning that supports enhanced traditional and non-traditional student attraction and retention as well as providing outcomes achieved by organizations who have used the process.
    11:30 - 12:30
    Recruiting from A to Gen Z
    Student recruitment officers are encountering the next generation of students that are already entering post-secondary: Gen Z. It is important that recruiters are equipped with creative ways of engaging Gen Z students both on and off campus. This session explores engaging methods that work for Gen Z students, identifying and leveraging the use of your story, and tips when making your 30-second “elevator” pitch.
    11:30 - 12:30
    What Students Really Want from Their Careers & How This Impacts SEM
    We know that students with clear career goals are more likely to succeed in with their studies and graduate. But what do students really want from their careers? What support do they expect from their school to get them there? And how can schools leverage a recruitment advantage through career development and related programming?

    In spring of 2017, Brainstorm Strategy Group surveyed more than 14,000 university and college students about their career aspirations; impressions of employers; evaluations of their campus career services; and, how they chose their post-secondary institution. Come hear some Millennial myths dispelled and learn more about how career development can impact strategic enrolment management.
    11:30 - 12:30
    Retooling Student Retention from Remedial to Remarkable
    There are 101 strategies that contribute to student retention and engagement, but which ones are the most effective, achievable and affordable? How do we maximize the strengths of the student, the faculty, the program and college services? This seminar outlines high-impact retention strategies based on the essential factors of student motivation, program culture and high-performance learning: improving faculty engagement; maximizing program culture, relationship building and career vision through a Day 1 career launch seminar; NISOD published student first-impressions Day 1 survey results; building student confidence through 8 Secrets of Career Success, TED talk by Richard St. John with 14 million views; back on-track program for at-risk students and all students; Reboot from Remedial to Remarkable – turning study skills into the 10 Steps to High-Performance Learning.
    12:30 - 1:30
    1:30 - 2:30
    What’s SEM Got to Do with it? The Value of SEM in Event Management
    From recruitment travel, to advertising, to hosting events, the costs associated with student can be significant. But how can institutions continue to offer quality recruitment programming given the threat of budget cuts, a declining student population, and the pressure to do more with less?

    In this session, we discuss how the Simon Fraser University recruitment team leveraged the SEM approach to improve the effectiveness of recruitment events. Through a case study, we share our successes in achieving multi-stakeholder buy-in to produce quality events that were within budget. Learn event management best practices and the benefits of adopting a data driven approach to improve your event management outcomes.
    1:30 - 2:30
    Rebranding and Embracing The Future
    Collège de l'Île is the French language community college in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Previously known as Collège Acadie Î.-P.-É., the college has existed in one form or another - and a variety of names! - since the mid 1990s. It became its own diploma granting institution in 2008. Why rebrand then after only 6 years? As part of the 2015-2018 strategic plan, stakeholders identified the need to broaden the Collège's horizons, engage other institutions in mutually beneficial partnerships and carve out a stronger position in the postsecondary market. How does an institution go about tackling these challenges? In many ways including taking a brutally honest look at itself, its current and potential markets and embracing a vision for the future. Join us to explore the highs and lows associated with the rebranding of a small and mighty community college that was open to change its historically and culturally significant brand to better embrace its future.
    1:30 - 2:30
    Student Journey Mapping for Enrolment - A How To Guide
    People on campus love to tell you what they think students need. Let's talk about how we can actually find out and avoid anecdotal debates. Rooted in creating a user-centric experience, the concept of User Journey Mapping (or Student Journey Mapping) can be a cornerstone for decision making in higher education and more specifically, in the enrolment process.

    Having gone through this process with over a dozen institutions, I’d like to share my successes and failures in order to help you in preparing your own Student Journey Mapping process. In this workshop we will:

    - Understand the fit of a Journey Map
    - Discuss audience identification
    - Identify the data collection process
    - Learn to prioritize findings into an action plan

    This process will help you understand how to bring together data from both administrative and student-based interviews (surveys, focus groups, 1-on-1 interviews and analytics), how to turn this data into information, and finally, how to develop that into a document that your organization will understand. You will leave this session with the framework to begin your own student journey mapping exercise that will help you to use data to drive your decisions. When executed correctly, these Student Journey Maps can allow you to make student centric decisions that are driven by data.
    2:45 - 3:45
    How Students Really Make Their Higher Education Choices
    Traditionally, research on students’ institutional choice has been something of a black box. “The choice” is presented as having been made by a single actor (usually the student), based on information gleaned from family and friends, and to some extent self-education as well. But how independent are students in making their choice? How does their decision-making proceed and what influence do friends and family really have?

    Over the past three years, Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) has been conducting research on this question, interviewing over a thousand high school students and parents on the question of how higher education preferences are formed and higher education decisions made. In this session, HESA President Alex Usher will provide an overview of this research, and show how much of the received wisdom about student decision-making needs to be re-thought. He will also, based on research conducted for the European Commission, show how this kind of decision-making differs across countries, and how institutions can use these insights to market to international students.
    3:45 - 4:00
    Closing Remarks

Pre-Conference Workshop

  • Strategic Planning for Post-Secondary Professionals (Full-Day Workshop)

    Presented by
    Graham Donald, President, Brainstorm Strategy Group Inc.
    Tuesday, November 20, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM

    Driving change starts with effective planning that engages your team, your stakeholders, other departments or faculties, and even your broader communities. This full-day pre-conference workshop will provide training in strategic planning that has been developed specifically for leaders of departments or divisions on campus.

    The workshop will focus on developing your process for creating clarity through an effective mission statement, definition of goals and objectives, and supporting your team working collectively. The workshop will not be particularly focused on enrolment planning, but rather share principles and processes to maximize the effectiveness of any team or group in an educational setting.

    The program will be led by Brainstorm Strategy Group’s Graham Donald who has experience facilitating strategic planning with offices at McGill University, Simon Fraser University, Rutgers University, Wilfrid Laurier University, UBC, George Brown College, University of Regina, Simon Fraser University, York University and numerous others.

    This full-day pre-conference program includes lunch and two refreshment breaks.

    Register Now

  • Half-Day Workshop – To be announced

    Tuesday, November 20, 1:30 – 4:30 PM

    Details to be announced soon.


  • Address
  • Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Toronto
    475 Yonge Street
    Toronto, ON
    M4Y 1X7

    More Details

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