Helping Students Thrive in College Life and Beyond
Guiding college students toward a successful and sustainable life
Dr. Robert Massa is the Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Institutional Planning at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Through this role, he is responsible for admissions, financial aid, athletics, career planning and institutional research. Recruitment of the best and the brightest plays a large part in driving his position and the success of the university as a whole.
There is a great deal of competition between colleges and universities across the country and Dr. Massa realizes the work it entails. As he states, “Our goal is not just to admit a freshman class, it’s to admit a class that’s going to graduate.”
Peter Kraft and Evolution Labs help Dr. Massa with his enrollment management, and Kraft notes how savvy Drew University has been with the “cradle to the grave” approach of supporting their students. Drew uses Evolution Labs’ S360 platform to help reach a variety of goals for engaging and recruiting new students. “Sometimes just buying them a cup of coffee and listening makes all the difference in the world,” Dr. Massa says.
Throughout the forty plus years that Dr. Massa has been involved in higher education, he has seen the roles of admissions officers, administrators and professors evolve. “The role of the faculty member in an undergraduate program is not only teaching in a classroom, but it’s really mentoring students and helping them to find their way,” he says.
“We’re there to help young people mature into adulthood, help them learn how to make their own decisions,” he says. “To grow and develop in ways that are necessary to have a successful and sustainable life.”
Dr. Massa starts by doing everything he can to assure a student’s success by using the right criterion for admission. Sometimes colleges admit students who are not the right fit academically, motivationally or as Dr. Massa says, who lack “grit.” He believes enrollment management is relationship management. It’s not all data-driven with logistical regression models. “We use some tools to help us maximize our yield on students who are admitted,” Dr. Massa explains. “But what we’re trying to do is to build and sustain those relationships.”
A robust advising and counseling system helps support student needs once on campus. Dr. Massa directs his admissions staff to check in on undergraduates from time to time throughout their school year – reaching out as far as their junior and senior terms. Mentors remain critical in helping students cope with the extraordinary pressures of university and higher education.
“A lot of the best learning occurs in applying what you’ve learned whether it’s in the classroom or online to a real-world situation,” explains Dr. Massa. “Having a mentor take you through that is critical.” It’s the university’s responsibility, according to Dr. Massa, to help students stay in school and be successful both in academics and in future life pursuits.
About Dr. Robert J. Massa
Robert J. Massa serves as Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Institutional Planning at Drew University in Madison, NJ. He is responsible for admissions, financial aid, athletics, career planning and Institutional Research. Prior to assuming his current position in January, 2015, Massa served for five years as Vice President for Communications at Lafayette College, his son’s alma mater.
From July, 1999 through June, 2009, Massa was the Vice President for Enrollment and College Relations at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. For 10 years prior to joining Dickinson, he was the Dean of Enrollment at Johns Hopkins University. Beginning in 1974 he held various positions in admissions, financial aid and student affairs at Colgate University and Union College.
He has published widely in books and journals in the field of college admissions and enrollment management and is active as an instructor and journal editor in national organizations for admissions and financial aid professionals. On August 28, 2000, his New York Times op-ed piece, “Who Needs the SAT,” resulted in Dickinson’s appearance on CNN several days later with the filming of convocation events, and interviewing students and faculty on the college’s optional testing policy.
He has also written and spoken extensively on the use of academic scholarships in student recruitment and on the abuse of national rankings of colleges and universities. When he left the field of college admissions in June, 2009 to head up Communications at Lafayette, the Chronicle of Higher Education did a major article on his contributions to the profession after 35 years. Each year, he is the keynote speaker at over 30 high schools nationally with his program, “Selective College Admissions – YOU do the Selecting,” which helps students keep the college admission process in perspective and shows them how to determine what makes a good college for them.
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This article was originally published in the Huffington Post
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