Graphic image with the phrase 'How to pick an enrollment management system'

How to Pick the Right Enrollment Management System

Increasing higher education enrollment is a complex group challenge. Low or stagnant enrollment isn’t caused by a single factor, and thus, increasing the number of students enrolled at a college or university isn’t possible through a single initiative overseen by any one office. 

Instead, institutions of higher education must implement strategies across multiple departments to attract more prospective students, increase retention, and lower attrition. Managing it all requires steady communication, streamlined processes, data-informed decision-making, and smooth collaboration. 

An Enrollment Management System (EMS) makes it possible—even with limited staff resources. 

What is a student Enrollment Management System?

An Enrollment Management System is a software solution designed to help colleges and universities manage the student enrollment lifecycle. Its tools help institutions adopt efficient strategies to better attract prospective learners, support the persistence and retention of current students, connect alumni with upskilling and reskilling opportunities, and more.

Features are community-designed to support initiatives related to the admissions process, marketing, financial aid, course registration, catalog management, student records, student affairs, alumni engagement, and continuing education. 

When implemented well, these systems enable institutions to improve staff efficiencies and exceed modern students’ expectations. In other words, an EMS optimizes institutional resources while improving the entire student experience to support increased enrollment, revenue, and longevity. 

How to pick an Enrollment Management System?

Evaluate your institution’s needs and goals

Start by identifying your institution’s current enrollment challenges and goals. 

Consider student demographics, enrollment targets, processes that need improvement, and unmet needs from staff and students alike. If possible, consult institutional data or conduct surveys to better understand what your prospective students want out of their first-time enrollment experiences and what challenges led them to stop or drop out. 

Understanding what your peer institutions are doing well in support of enrollment can also inform your institution’s strategies, as can consulting regional or national reports on enrollment, admissions and retention trends. 

Define key features

Based on your needs and goals, determine the essential features your institution requires in student enrollment software. Among others, this may include:

  • A web content management system (CMS) that makes publishing easier for your web administrators and other marketing staff while delivering web personalization to aid student recruitment, showcasing your programs’ projected ROI (return on investment), and encouraging more visitors to engage with your website
  • Catalog, curriculum, and class scheduling solutions to engage students with quick and intuitive registration experiences that keep them on track toward their academic goals
  • A co-curricular engagement platform to better engage students in experiences outside of the classroom and help learners develop workforce-ready skills to support their persistence and satisfaction with your institution
  • Communication tools to better guide students through the application and enrollment processes, connect them with campus resources that support their success, and measure the success of your communication strategies through data.
  • Non-traditional student management to boost enrollment within your continued education, workforce development, and other non-credit programs through tools not offered through your main-campus SIS or traditional registration systems

Consider the integration with other systems

Ensure that the EMS can effectively integrate with other systems your institution and individual departments use, such as your student information systems (SIS) or learning management systems (LMS), and customer relationship management systems (CRM). 

A seamless integration and data migration can improve data accuracy, simplify processes, and enhance the overall efficiency of your enrollment management efforts.

Look for customizability and scalability

Just because an EMS works wonderfully for another institution, that doesn’t mean it will work well for yours. Look for an Enrollment Management System that is flexible and can be customized to fit both your current needs and the unexpected needs that may arise in your institution’s future. 

Consider also how your institution might grow. Will your enrollment solutions keep up with a larger pool of prospective students, additional offices, or more academic programs? The right EMS will drive an increase in scale. 

Seek a user-friendly interface

No EMS will be useful if, well, you don’t use it. The most effective systems will be easy for staff and students alike to use frequently, customize, and experience the top benefits from. 

Ideally, it should be intuitive enough for new users to learn with little or no direct assistance from the system’s administrators on your team. Overall, it should provide a smooth and rewarding user experience. 

Evaluate data security and privacy 

Your Enrollment Management System should comply with relevant data protection regulations, such as FERPA or GDPR, and provide robust security measures to protect sensitive student information. 

Your IT team should consider other elements like encryption, security audits and monitoring, data minimization and integrity, and access controls. 

Understanding the data, reporting, and analytic capabilities

A data-centric EMS can make your enrollment strategies possible and inform your development of those strategies in the first place. 

The ability to track enrollment trends, software usage, academic success, co-curricular engagement, student demographics, and other key metrics—including the effectiveness of your enrollment strategies—can help you make informed decisions and continually rework your initiatives in line with student needs. 

Consider not just what metrics your EMS will supply but how. Ask about the possibility of customizing filters, segmenting demographics, simplifying student data integration, reviewing real-time event analytics, and generating visual reports. 

A robust, intuitive analytics dashboard will enable more departments to understand your students better and make data-informed decisions.

Review training and support

Consider how the company behind the EMS will support your usage. 

A responsive support team can guide you through a smooth and timely implementation process and provide ongoing support to customize your usage and manage your enrollment initiatives successfully. 


Managing enrollment and providing learners with a strong experience across the entire student lifecycle requires colleges and universities to embrace new trends, take creative leaps, and evaluate ongoing processes. 

An Enrollment Management System makes this possible with tools specifically designed to support departments and professionals across the institution while promoting collaboration.

Unlock Your Institution’s Growth Potential with Modern Campus - Modern Campus helps 1,700+ institutions simplify the enrollment journey, making it seamless for every prospective student to explore offerings, understand costs and enroll effortlessly. - Learn how.

Jodi Tandet

Jodi Tandet

Jodi Tandet is Modern Campus's Manager of Brand Content. She's holds a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing from Emory University and a Master's in College Student Affairs from Nova Southeastern University. As a campus professional, she's advised student organizations, planned co-curricular events, developed leadership programs and staffed trips abroad. Jodi lives in Riverview, Florida with her canine roommate, Maisi.

Connect with her on LinkedIn:

Last updated: March 4, 2024


We use cookies on this website to enhance your experience and improve our services and our website’s functionality. By continuing to use our website, which includes remaining on this landing page, you consent to the use of cookies and agree to our Privacy Policy.