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Back to School: Coda

Earlier in this series Amy Kinney, Winebrenner’s Director of Enrollment Management, noted that Winebrenner has started the fall 2021 term with record graduate enrollment (you can read the full post by clicking here).  But, high enrollment by itself is what Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup and The Startup Way may call a “vanity metric” – something that makes you feel good but really doesn’t clarify much about actual performance and overall organizational health. […in other words, be wary of those schools who announce “record…” anything without providing further context and explanation.]

Like many things, there is always “more to the story”!

2007 was the previous high for enrollment at Winebrenner Seminary.  According to the ATS Data Visualization Tool, Winebrenner’s expenses in 2007 were $2,033,745.  This compares to projected and budgeted expenses for 2021-2022 of $1,250,425 (for what it’s worth, Winebrenner’s expenses are consistently less than what is budgeted).

Why should overall enrollment be viewed in the context of overall expenses?  Imagine a school that increases the marketing or promotional budget by $100,000 – enrollment should increase for that school. While increased enrollment in that context should be celebrated it also must be noted that it was expected.

A helpful way to place enrollment within the wider financial context of a school is to evaluate the Cost to Educate (CTE) a student (you can read more that I’ve written about CTE by clicking here)

Let’s compare the Cost to Educate a single student in any program in 2007 and our current year:

CTE in 2007 = $15,644.19

CTE in current year (2021-2022) = $7,718.67

Winebrenner has cut the cost to educate a single student IN HALF since 2007!  So, for Winebrenner, announcing increased enrollment is not a vanity metric but an acknowledgement of the way God is allowing us to engage more students at a significantly lower overall cost.

There are many ways to define stewardship, but we believe that we are being wise stewards with what God is providing for us as we continue to equip leaders for service in God’s kingdom.

– Dr. Brent C. Sleasman, President