SEMM 2019

  • Enrolment Management, Recruitment & Engagement

    The 2019 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.

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  • The Program

    Learn from recent case studies, discover current research, and explore best practices at SEMM 2019.

    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


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  • 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.

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SEMM 2019 Preliminary Program (Additional Presentations TBA)

  • SEMM Forum 2019
    Presentation Descriptions (Timing TBD)
    Post-Secondary Education in the 2020s: Threats and Opportunities
    In this presentation Dr. Woolf will outline the current and likely immediate future global and national context for higher education. He uses the word ‘threats’ rather than the euphemism ‘challenges’ deliberately—there are some potentially existential threats looming to the PSE system in Canada as we know it, some endogenous others emanating from changing global circumstances and technological change. The presentation will examine such issues as changing student/parental expectations as to what a university education should ‘buy’, including employment prospects, blue-chip mental and physical health supports, and a stress-free or ‘safe’ environment. It will also examine external threats such as increasing governmental intrusion into university affairs; unstable revenue streams; the difficulty of balancing research and economic development expectations with a commitment to teaching; the relative lack of levers that university administrators have to effect change; the promise and also risks of internationalization; and, the threat to traditional liberal values in a highly polarized world. The final part of the presentation will suggest some ways in which universities can protect the core of what they do best and also adapt to face these new circumstances.
    Supporting Student Success by Building Financial Literacy — One Email at a Time
    Developing students’ financial literacy is integral to their success and ability to complete their studies. In 2018, Algonquin College's Financial Aid and Student Awards Department piloted its Smart Money Plan, a program to build students' financial literacy. A major component included personalized monthly emails to all domestic students to deliver timely information, establish relationships between students and their financial aid officers, and spark conversations about financial literacy. With open rates above 50%, we proved that email isn't dead -- it just needs to be relevant. This session will explore how we successfully leveraged email, built our content plan, and the lessons learned along the way.
    What do they REALLY think? Generate Deeper, In-the-Moment Insights to Build Empathy and Drive Decisions
    Everywhere we turn there is easier access to 'data'. Survey information and 'big data' are great for answering many questions, but often leave us wondering 'what do they REALLY think, say, do, feel or even wish?’ This is the critical role that qualitative research plays. Only qualitative research can help build empathy with your target at any stage of their journey. We will show with specific case studies how online qualitative methods like in-the-moment video-based mobile tools, and online discussion boards can uniquely and efficiently bring you into the moment. These tools provide us with amazingly candid and relevant insights. They enable you to engage directly with students, prospects, alumni, employers, faculty and staff (or any target group for that matter) in a way that is convenient and comfortable to them. Further, we will demonstrate how mixing qualitative methods and use them iteratively, consistent with design thinking principles, enables faster and more confident decision making.
    An Enrolment Intelligence Platform - Machine Learning Your Way to Better Marketing
    In this presentation Josiah will share how predictive analytics can better help marketers make data-driven decisions on where to put their next marketing dollar. Josiah will share what machine learning is and isn't and how we can use tools and platforms to help us as marketers achieve our enrolment objectives leveraging the latest technology on tight budgets and limited resources.
    Post-Secondary Education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
    Janet Hyde’s presentation will touch on the nature of post-secondary education in 2030, including differing views of what the academy may look like and how it may operate. Through research, example and discussion, she will present some of the challenges and opportunities inherent in supporting the emerging economy, changing demographics, and changing expectations of post-secondary educators. She will suggest some approaches to consider that could lead to more nimble post-secondary organizations and will conclude with techniques for achieving meaningful change in the post-secondary sector that require collaboration between SEMM professionals, academic leaders, and faculty.
    How to Shape Recruitment and Enrolment Management to Enhance All Students' Ability to Graduate
    Description TBA.
    SEM Again: How to Respond When Wildfires and Recession Devastate Your Enrolment
    In 2015, Fort McMurray dipped into a serious recession. When this was followed by a wildfire in 2016, enrolment dropped by 25%. Layoffs, restructuring and regular changes at the executive level removed any connection to previous SEM work. Needing to rebuild, required us to plan for "SEM Again". We will share the process, the journey, the successes and the challenges that we have experienced in our first two years of "SEM Again". Using collaborative tools, we have built a very solid foundation for our roadmap moving forward. Connecting business change management in our pursuit of enhancing the student experience is providing us with the vision to truly achieve Strategic Enrollment Management. The dream team on this project includes key people: the SEM manager, the Organizational Development Advisor and the Institutional Research Analyst. By combining the talents of topic expertise, organizational expertise and research expertise, we bring a comprehensive approach to SEM again.
    How to Recruit and Retain Students Whose Job Titles Don't Exist Yet
    Students are being asked to answer the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? This question perpetuates the myth that they will be just one thing: one profession or one job title. This is no longer true. What is much more likely is that they will work on several different challenges, problems and opportunities over the course of their lives. To recruit and retain students in this new reality, we must be help them make the connection between their program of study and the impact they want to have on the world. The Challenge Method addresses this new reality head on by engaging students to 'flip the model' of career development: First, choose a problem you want to solve. Next, find companies that are working on this problem. Then, learn about the people who work there, their skills and their paths. Finally, choose an education program based on what you need to know to solve the problem you chose. Participants will learn how Canadian colleges and universities are using game-changing tools to 'flip the model' of career development to recruit, engage and retain students.
    Convincing Stakeholders to Do What You Want: Challenging the Status Quo of Higher Ed Marketing & Communications
    In the endless war between marketing and communications professionals and the academics and administrators of higher education, leave this session equipped with new ammunition for the battle of "Less is (actually, quite a lot) more". We aren't writing rubrics, syllabuses or policies, but our stakeholders are. While keeping your compassion hat on for the concerns, anxieties and limitations all stakeholders face, learn how you can challenge the status quo and improve your stakeholder relationships so that you can create dynamic, engaging and interesting content for Gen. Z, helping you to recruit prospective students and keep current students interested and informed. Join Laurier's MARCOM duo as they share trials and triumphs of ongoing relationship building and communications refinement. Learn how you can empower stakeholders to adapt their communications, why the Viewbook isn't everything, and how to leverage research to promote data-driven decision making.
    "To Agent" or "Not to Agent" - That is the Question
    This presentation will review the usage of agents as a strategy for attracting international post-secondary students. With Memorial as a case study, the presenter will provide an overview of the usage of agents, particularly within the Canadian university context. If your university/school is (1) interested in seeking best practices information, (2) wanting to assess the value of students recruited via agents or (3) determine how your school compares with others, this presentation is for you.
    Conducting a Marketing Publications Audit
    As a SEM initiative, Humber College undertook a consultation and review of its printed calendar and other recruitment collateral, to determine whether current practices were aligned with the needs of its key stakeholders, now and in the future. Humber's Marketing, Recruitment & Conversion committee engaged in this multi-step, consultative process that included surveys, interviews and focus groups, in order to create an implementation plan with short, medium and long-term recommendations. The focus was on the needs of the audience - prospects, parents, guidance leaders and even current students - and how Humber will continue to engage with them in an increasingly digital environment. This session will describe Humber's rationale and methodology for this project, challenges faced, and key project outcomes. We will share our strategy for prioritizing implementation initiatives.
    Student Retention, Residence Living and Creating Brand Loyalty
    For those institutions with on-campus residences, there exists an amazing opportunity to retain students and turn those living on campus into brand advocates. Advocates that will be embedded and actively engaged in the university or college experience. Many will thrive socially, and bring other students into #reslife. Some will carry on into residence leadership roles, while others succeed in their studies. All of this delivers engaged students or advocates that will carry forward the institution’s brand during and after their time on campus. There are studies that confirm students excel academically and personally in-residence vs those that live off campus. However, to ensure they stay involved and engaged year after year, institutions need to look beyond rooms, beds, and burgers. Powerful #reslife experiences offer vibrant social programming and activities, community spaces that foster creativity, ‘making’, socialization and fun, as well as food services that feel like the Marche or Whole Foods. Well fed, well rested and involved students come back, stay connected and are loyal. They’ve lived (literally) the institutional brand and will be strong advocates going forward. In this session, Sean Williams will speak about the connection between residence living, student retention and brand loyalty. An alignment that will foster a never-ending level of engagement.
    How to Build a Chatbot for Higher Ed Recruitment – An Ongoing Case Study
    Chatbots offer new possibilities to higher ed institutions to provide popular content, answer questions, complete tasks and guide prospective students to optimal outcomes. The promise of this technology sounds great, of course, but the challenge for marketers and web administrators is to crack the complexity of these new tools, determine their best use cases and to implement them in complex web environments with limited resources. This goal of this presentation is to reduce some of that complexity by providing information, insight and practical examples of how a chatbot can deliver value to web managers, higher ed marketers, and students and to demonstrate specifically how a chatbot can be applied in a student recruitment context.

    This session will describe how George Brown College, Continuing Education, developed a hybrid, decision tree/natural language processing based chatbot, to support recruitment for an online technical training certificate program ( This talk with offer key questions, decisions made, and lessons learned, ranging from project goal setting, software selection, content development, implementation, and vendor relations, to on-going analytics, chatbot development and maintenance.
    Fostering Campus-wide Buy-in and Engagement to SEMM
    Workshop participants will learn proven methods of maximizing institutional buy-in and engagement in SEMM planning and implementation. Campus stakeholders are reluctant to embrace concepts and practices that they do not understand or necessarily value. Faculty and staff are extremely busy, so unless they see the institutional and personal value of investing their time in marketing and enrolment efforts, they are unlikely to become SEMM champions. Through a highly participatory process, workshop attendees will develop an internal communications and engagement plan for their school.
    Actionable or Inert?: Getting from Data to Decisions in SEMM
    There is always a need for reliable data in Canada’s post-secondary institutions, but an even greater need to make sure that data supports real choices with real impact. This presentation will focus on the many ways that your SEMM team can not only gather the data it needs, but also act on this data and share it across your institution to build confidence in your SEMM efforts, especially when converting applicants to enrolments. Best practices in data sharing and decision support will be drawn from Academica Group’s experience of working with institutions across Canada and beyond to ensure that SEMM data is actionable instead of inert.

Pre-Conference Workshops

  • Full-Day
    Pre-Conference Workshop A:
    Strategic Planning for Post-Secondary Professionals

    Presented by
    Graham Donald, President, Brainstorm Strategy Group Inc.

    Tuesday, November 12, 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.

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  • Full-Day
    Pre-Conference Workshop B:
    Foundations of Canadian SEM Success

    Presented by
    Dr. Clayton Smith, Associate Professor, University of Windsor and Senior Consultant, AACRAO Consulting

    Susan Gottheil, Vice-Provost (Students), University of Manitoba

    Tuesday, November 12, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM

    Are you looking to re-boot you institutional SEM efforts? Or perhaps you’re new to SEM?

    This full-day, pre-conference workshop outlines how strategic enrolment management (SEM) serves as a planning framework for shaping enrolment and supporting student success at higher educational institutions of all types. In this workshop, we examine SEM core concepts, explore the changing demographic and social environment, discuss how SEM can support the achievement of recruitment, retention, and completion goals, compare SEM practices across Canadian colleges and universities, and identify the campus culture factors that support successful SEM implementation.

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  • Half-Day
    Pre-Conference Workshop C:
    Creating a Memorable Campus Visit Experience

    Presented by
    Dr. Jim Black, President, SEM Works

    Tuesday, November 12, 1:30 – 4:30 PM

    It’s past time to throw out the traditional playbook for campus visits. There is nothing unique or memorable about the “old school” approach to the campus visit experience. Visits to campus represent the “make or break” decision point for many prospective students, so the experience deserves the same level of investment, planning, and execution that Disney gives to every attraction at its theme parks. Disney innovatively designs every “guests’ experience” to ensure a lasting memory emerges. Colleges and universities can benefit from the lessons learned by Disney.

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  • Half-Day
    Pre-Conference Workshop D
    Digital Marketing Strategies to Boost Enrolment

    Presented by
    Victoria Bomben, Independent Consultant

    Tuesday, November 12, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

    During times of political turbulence, financial pressures, enrolment challenges and demographic shifts, it is now more important than ever for higher education marketers, recruitment and admissions specialists to recognize how student decision stages fit within the context of the enrolment management pipeline and align their digital strategies to attract, recruit, and admit the right students into the right programs.

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Need Approval to Attend?

  • Download the Business Case

    Attending the SEMM Forum is a great investment to support the success students and your institution.

    It’s probably obvious to you that attending would be great for your professional development. The more expertise (and broader network) you bring to your work, the better.

    But your boss might need a little more convincing. So, we’ve created a template you can use to prepare your business case to persuade your leaders that attending will be an excellent investment. Click the button below to download the template.

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