Managing a Grizzly: Enrollment, Admissions, and Retention for a New Decade



September 29, 2022 | Admissions

Who says 10 year-olds aren’t smart? Not Guttman’s Director of Admissions Sophea Sainsurin. “We’ve added some new AI tools this semester to help us better engage with prospective students,” says Sainsurin. As with all things Guttman, Enrollment is always on the look-out for innovation backed by research to provide more students with the best community college experience in New York City.

To that end, Guttman has secured two technology platforms that help us meet and exceed admission and retention goals through connecting with students at critical points in the school search, selection, enrollment and engagement/re-engagement continuum. Niche utilizes digital marketing to increase brand awareness in recruitment, and analytics to track inquiries and enrollment trends across similar institutions. Signal Vine, with chatbox functionality, connects prospective students, enrollees and alumni to Guttman staff and resources through intentional text messaging. A strong feature of this tool is that it can also be used to help re-engage and retain individual students who may have slowed or stopped their progress toward completing their degree.

Adopting these technologies complements the “high-touch” approach that distinguishes Guttman’s successful student-centered model. In his remarks during the 10th Annual September 8 “State of the College” meeting, Interim Dean of Enrollment Management Daniel Ambrose unveiled for faculty and staff the strategic framework that undergirds Guttman’s dynamic Spring 2023 Enrollment Campaign. A Hispanic-Serving Institution, Guttman combines innovative educational opportunities with highly personalized student engagement. Describing targeted recruitment efforts that improve access while ensuring the college’s fiscal sustainability, Ambrose outlined institutional priorities for increasing both growth and retention. “We continue to foreground student success at Guttman,” said Ambrose, “Success as we define it: high levels of learning, engagement, persistence, graduation, and satisfaction.”

Concurrent with plans to redesign the College’s website and increase social media marketing, the Division of Student Affairs in concert with the Division of Academic Affairs are nurturing existing and new relationships with high schools and community-based organizations while creating pathways for new student populations, such as non-degree, transfer, and adult learners. “Based on our data, we realized we needed to re-think the timing in our 4-Step Admissions process,” declared Sainsurin. “Where we used to admit students who listed Guttman on the CUNY Application only after they completed a required Group Information Session, we now admit them after they apply to Guttman on the CUNY App, and then we work with them on scheduling the next steps of the required Group Information Session and the optional Individual Meeting. We’re eager to see the results with this change in our Admissions process.”

Increasing our Admissions numbers means nothing without equal attention to improving our students’ graduation rates. And that means focusing on the retention of ALL students, particularly those we have not served well in engaging their strengths and potential over the past decade. Thus, strategic priorities for retention include an ongoing commitment to culturally responsive, experiential pedagogies, the redesign of Guttman’s Academic Success Center, and the initiation of robust academic recovery outreach to students who aren’t making  progress in their courses. With confidence in our mission and the sustained hope of Guttman’s first 10 years, we anticipate not just managing, but exceeding all Grizzly goals!