Miami Dade College (MDC) currently has an enrollment of about 165,000 students (“Enrollment & graduation statistics,” 2015). The fact that MDC’s campuses are in various locations allows the college to provide its students with extremely flexible scheduling alternatives for the at least 300 programs offered by this educational institution. For instance, students may opt to undertake the degree courses lasting for four years, associate degrees lasting for two years, and numerous college-credit and vocational certificate courses (“Facts in Brief,” 2015). In addition, MDC provides weekend and evening classes that are mostly administered via an online learning environment – MDC’s Virtual College. MDC including its staff has received numerous recognitions by several high-status honors and awards. In addition, the institution is also well-known for its extensive cultural programming. It embarked on a rigorous strategy aimed at increasing the number of campuses in order to ensure that the college intensified student registration in the process of expansion. Nevertheless, in MDC, the student enrollments trends have been declining for the recent years (“Enrollment & graduation statistics,” 2015). The paper has the main purpose of conducting a trend analysis of student enrollment in MDC. To this end, this research provides the background information regarding the student enrollment at the college and tracks this trend over the last five years. The paper also discusses different programs that should be implemented by MDC in order to ensure that the institution continues to improve its student enrollment amidst its expansion strategy.

Background of the Student Enrollment Trends at MDC

MDC was established based on the idea that each individual desiring to get college education ought to be provided with an opportunity. MDC was founded in the 1960s; this time was characterized by the increase in the influx of the Cuban immigrants and racial desegregation (“Facts in Brief,” 2015). During its early years, MDC was called Dade County Junior College; it was open to any resident of the US who had graduated from high school. It was the first integrated junior college in the state of Florida. As of the mid-1960s, MDC’s enrolled had expanded to over 15,000 students. In 1967, the college obtained the status of the largest higher learning institution in the state of Florida. The next decade of its existence was characterized by the increasing students’ expectations and establishing a new trend for the American community colleges. As a result, MDC focused on the enrollment of the minorities and women. As a step to enhance its enrollment in line with its vision of providing every person willing to learn with an opportunity to do it, MDC employs a policy of a 100-percent acceptance rate for admissions applications made to the college. The student body is ethnically diverse with Latino/Hispanic comprising the majority (67.94 percent), followed by African Americans (16.23 percent), Whites (6.31 percent), American Indians (0.07 percent), Asians (0.99 percent), Pacific Islanders (0.06 percent), and unknown (2.92 percent) (“Facts in Brief,” 2015). Since its establishment, MDC had been pursuing an expansion strategy aimed at increasing the number of enrollments through different efforts such as increasing the number of campuses, adopting an open admission policy, and engaging the minorities. However, the last five years has seen a plunging trend in the number of enrollments at MDC. Table 1 illustrates the downhill trend in the MDC admissions over the last five years. From the table, it is apparent that admission was on a steady drop throughout the 2010-2014 period and had only started to show an insignificant progress in 2015.

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Academic Year Enrollment

2014-2015 – 165,000
2013-2014 – 161,632
2012-2013 – 164378
2011-2012 – 166,660
2010-2011 – 174,645

Programs Needed to Increase Enrollment at MDC

In order to reverse the downward trend in enrollment at MDC that has been observed for the past five years, two programs are suggested to be implemented by the college. They include the development of a marketing strategy, which will aim at increasing the enrollment, and the development of a strategic enrollment planning (SEP). These two programs are discussed in detail in the following subsections.

Development of a Marketing Strategy Aimed at Increasing Enrollment at MDC

Several factors had a crucial impact on the development of a downward trend in MDC enrollment, including the technology-driven and competitive market of higher education (Howe & Strauss, 2003), issues associated with access and cost, and demographic challenges that affect the pool of the existing students (Barnes, 2012). Many institutions attribute reduction of enrollment to external factors, which are beyond their control. In the context of businesses, when a company faces a downturn, it implements intervention strategies in order to adapt to the new conditions and be successful in the dynamic business environment. In the same light, learning institutions experiencing a downturn in the enrollment figures must develop and implement effective strategies in order to reverse the trend. Successful companies are notable for effective teamwork, general excellence, and superior customer services (Burke, 2013). However, these values depend on the nature of the interaction between employees. In order for MDC to increase its enrollment figures, an effective marketing strategy should be implemented, to help increase the public interest in the programs offered by the institution.

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A number of steps have to be taken when developing a marketing plan: gathering and analyzing the data, setting goals, developing and implementing the strategy, monitoring the progress, and evaluating the results (Lovik, 2014). When coming up with a marketing plan to help in the recruitment of students to the institution, the first step involves collecting the data regarding the core factors that students take into consideration when applying for admissions (Howe & Strauss, 2003). The location has been identified as one of the most crucial factors for students seeking admission to the colleges. As a rule, most are concerned with the distance between the college and their place of residence (Dreer, Weston, & Owsley, 2014). Owing to the fact that students are likely to spend at least four years in the institution before completing their studies, it is imperative for them to feel comfortable. In order to address the issue of location, some colleges offer online classes and increase their physical presence by opening several campuses in various locations. Financial aid is associated with factors such as part-time opportunities for employment, scholarships, percent of students who get aid, and deadlines for making the payments (Hope, 2014). The environment of the learning institution is also an important variable that students take into consideration when selecting the college. It includes the religious affiliation of the institution, size and location of the closest city, setting (either rural or urban), and the type of the institution (4-year, 2-year or both). The size of the institution also plays a crucial role in determining the choice of colleges. The size of the institution depends on the two main factors including the physical space and size of the institution and the enrollment figures (Hopkins, 2013). Large colleges often provide more diverse majors and degree programs as compared to smaller ones. In most cases, smaller colleges place emphasis on the liberal arts and a small number of specialties. In addition, large colleges are characterized by extensive resources available for students such as athletics and on-campus accommodation, as well as computers and libraries. Another additional advantage associated with the large colleges relates to the diverse student body comprising of students from various cultures, backgrounds, and interests. Nevertheless, smaller colleges provide the advantage of fewer distractions and knowing almost every student in the institution (Mina, 2014).

Analyzing the information gathered from the survey of students provides important insights concerning the factors that influence the decisions made by students in selecting a college. These insights can be used in the development of effective promotional and marketing plans for MDC. When developing a strategy to recruit students, Howe and Strauss (2003) emphasize the importance of conveying to the potential students that the college is a significant part of their life plan in broader context, and it can help them develop crucial skills, habits, and values that will be crucial for their desired adulthood. In addition, Howe and Strauss (2003) highlighted the importance of looking beyond the graduation if the college is to be effective in attracting millennial students. This goal can be achieved through the career counseling services, trend analysis of the labor market and employment, and working in partnership with different organizations that appear appealing to the millennial students. Moreover, a number of promotional tactics such as friendly employees can help in attracting customers, which mean students, in this case. It is imperative to note that the superior customer service plays a crucial role in making customers patronize this particular organization and not another one. Through the use of these fundamental principles, an effective promotional and marketing strategy can help increase the number of students interested in enrolling at the institution (Barnes, 2012).

The goal of the promotional and marketing approach is to surpass the expectations of customers in order to strengthen their loyalty. In the context of the today’s digital age, a customer-centric approach has become crucial for any business organizations. This approach can be implemented through regular communication with existing and potential clients, being enthusiastic, and generating excitement, as well as fun. For the case of an organization providing service to college students, a number of objectives are identified as being important. They include enhancing awareness, increasing goodwill of the community, encouraging trial, and providing frequency (Barnes, 2012). Despite the fact that these objectives and their corresponding tactics are not suitable for increasing the enrollment figures, they can be adapted in an appropriate way. Awareness is often considered the first stage in attracting new customers. In this respect, prospective students must be aware of the existence of the factors that distinguish MDC from the other colleges. Goodwill of the community is associated with the development of a positive image of the organization in the community (Dreer, Weston, & Owsley, 2014). Regardless of the size of the educational institution, the image portrayed by it plays a crucial role in influencing the manner, in which the prospective students will perceive and treat it. The frequency tactics focuses on making the college the destination of choice when compared to other of the kind. The generation of traffic places emphasis on encouraging people to develop an interest in the institution whereas the stimulation of trial focuses on making customers/students try the academic services offered by it. Overall, the marketing strategy can help MDC adapt to the changing factors of the external environment that are contributing to the declining trends in enrollment (Hope, 2015).

Strategic Enrollment Planning (SEP)

SEP has been defined as a long-term student recruitment plan that draws upon a data-informed process. It places emphasis on aligning the enrollment, as well as co-curricular, academic, and financial resources, with the dynamic environment and primary objective of achieving the mission of the college and guaranteeing the institution’s long-term success, financial health, and enrollment figures. SEP focuses on the internal aspects that can be used in increasing enrollment at MDC (Burke, 2013). It focuses on aligning the internal environment of MDC with its external environment, as well as identification of the high-impact strategies that can be adopted to help reverse the downward trend in student enrollment. SEP assesses the preparedness of the institution to meeting the dynamic academic and employment demands, and a growing learners’ diversity in the future. It also assesses whether the institution uses a reactive or proactive approach to dealing with the downturns in the higher learning market. According to Hope (2015), SEP can benefit the institution through various ways including strengthening the long student enrollment and financial health, offering measurable and realistic goals relating to the student success, enrollment and market position of the institution, generating precisely defined and cost-effective outcomes, and aligning the mission of the institution with the dynamic market environment.

The first aspect associated with SEP relates to the implementation of a data-informed process with respect to planning the enrollment and setting the enrollment goals. In this respect, it is imperative to note that strategic enrollment comprises data-informed course of action that seeks to align the MDC’s academic and financial resources with the dynamic environment in order to achieve the college’s mission and guarantee its long-term financial health and enrollment. For the enrollment plan to be strategic, it has to be based on reliable data on the academic areas for potential students in the secondary and primary market, MDC’s main competitors, students’ perception of MDC in terms of quality and value, and the alignment between the existing missions of the institution with the present market environment (Burke, 2013). The second important aspect of SEP is an all-inclusive plan for retaining students. The open aspect of MDC and other community colleges highlights the importance of planning the student retention. Planning retention involves assessing the student demographics, including online students, students under professional training, associate degree students, adult students, and conventional students, who have graduated from high school. Lastly, it is imperative for SEP to incorporate different methods of tracking the progress and benchmarking (Burke, 2013).


From the trend analysis, it is evident that enrollment figures at MDC have been on a downward trend over the 2010-2014 period. It is only in 2015 that MDC reported a slight improvement in its enrollment figures. This downward trend in enrollments comes amidst the strategies adopted by the college, which aimed to improve the figures by increasing the number of campuses and courses offered, and adopting flexible scheduling options. In order to reverse the trend, two programs are suggested. They include developing a marketing strategy and SEP and can help tackle the internal and external environments of MDC. The development of the marketing plan comprises gathering and analyzing the data, setting goals, developing and implementing a strategy, monitoring the progress, and evaluating the results. On the other hand, SEP focuses on adapting the mission and resources of MDC to the external environment through a data-informed process.

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