The diagram above represents our most current thinking about the evolution of enrollment management. In contrast with the conventional enrollment funnel that ends when a student enrolls, the decision points in the relationship between an institution and the student are depicted as a series of funnels that encompass a studentís entire higher education lifecycle. Instead of thinking about the process in terms of a single vertical funnel where students fall, by chance, through different levels and land at the bottom as enrolled students, consider each major decision point in the entire educational lifespan as an individual funnel through which a student may or may not pass.
Most will start at the very beginning as prospects. Some will then choose to become inquirers. Some inquirers will choose to become applicants. A vast majority will choose not to pass through the very first funnel. Others will introduce themselves into the system without being part of a preceding funnel, such as a student who applies for admission without any previous contact or a generous donor never before associated with the institution. At other points in the cycle, it is impossible to appear without being present in a previous funnel (students cannot be admitted to the institution without applying first and cannot enroll without being admitted, etc.).
To effectively serve and manage the entire higher education lifecycle, we must recognize that each step along the way requires an active decision, requiring deliberate forward momentum to reach the next. And as such, it is incumbent upon the institution to serve the students well and address their needs so that they will continue to move through each funnel and continue their active relationship with the institution.