Managing the Whole Student Life Cycle: A Handbook for Higher Ed

Make retention a whole-campus initiative in more than just name. From matriculation to graduation, walk through how to coordinate across enrollment management, student affairs, and academic affairs to create conditions and programs that drive student success. Managing the Whole Student Life Cycle: A Handbook for Higher Ed: Order 10+ copies and receive a $19.99 discount on every copy you purchase.

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See the Table of Contents and Read the Foreword.


By Paul Marthers
634 pages

Make retention a whole-campus initiative in more than just name. From matriculation to graduation, walk through how to coordinate across enrollment management, student affairs, and academic affairs to create conditions and programs that drive student success.


Why This Book?

In this era of declining high school graduate populations, the competition between colleges to enroll students is fiercer than ever, provoking escalating costs for recruiting, yielding, and enrolling each student. But while it is common for institutions to chart their recruiting return on investment, it is not yet a widespread practice for colleges to calculate the high cost of attrition.

Yet in a higher-ed climate where enrollment scarcity is the norm, strategic institutions are those that consider both student input and student throughput. The goal is not just to admit, yield, and enroll, but also to create conditions and programs that support student success from matriculation to graduation. If such conditions are to succeed, it is crucial that college and university leaders do not compartmentalize the stages of the student life cycle, but that they instead plan comprehensively to manage the entire student pipeline.


What’s Included?

Paul Marthers’ Managing the Whole Student Life Cycle: A Handbook for Higher Ed offers a thorough guide for reconsidering that life cycle holistically. Each chapter reviews practical approaches that have taken root and demonstrated proven success at varied institutions, offers worksheets and guiding questions to prompt thinking and application at your own campus, and suggests practical first and next steps. The topics addressed include:

  • The role of faculty on the front lines of student success
  • Establishing equity in student success programs
  • Keeping students on track from matriculation to graduation
  • Creating an articulated, integrated, and unifying undergraduate experience
  • Removing policy and procedural barriers to completion
  • Helping students develop grit and resilience
  • Using data and metrics in student success

Whether your institution is a research university, liberal arts college, or community college, in this 600-page handbook you will find effective approaches to consider and helpful questions to challenge prevailing perspectives, as well as a roadmap for holistic student-success planning across enrollment management, student affairs, and academic affairs.



“Managing the Whole Student Life Cycle is a must-read for every higher education professional. Dr. Paul Marthers provides essential insights and actionable solutions that have the potential to take student success to a whole new level.”
– Christy England, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, State University System of Florida Board of Governors “Marthers has taken strategic enrollment management to the next logical step in its evolution. This book provides a comprehensive overview of the student life cycle and provides tangible solutions for administrators and faculty to improve student success and achieve institutional retention, graduation goals in an equitable and collaborative fashion.”
– Robert J. Alexander, Dean of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Enrollment Management, University of Rochester “Managing the Whole Student Life Cycle is an indispensable guide to reforming student success. Too often the various stages of student life—from recruitment and enrollment, through orientation and retention, to graduation and alumni engagement—are treated by different units on campuses. This siloed approach serves neither the students nor the institutions. Having served in admissions, retention, and student affairs roles at several institutions for more than 20 years, Paul Marthers brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the table in this book to help institutions change existing mindsets and shift towards a more holistic approach that can bring all campus stakeholders together with a unified mission to serve students at every stage.”
– Dwight A. McBride, President & University Professor at The New School “Many higher education institutions are at a tipping point—confronting the dual crisis of fewer students and lagging completion rates. Managing the Whole Student Life Cycle puts the student, not the institution, at the center of our work and provides a roadmap and multiple examples to support leaders in breaking down silos and enhancing ROI for both institutions and students. Marthers’ experience at both small liberal arts institutions and a large public, comprehensive system provides him with a rare perspective and first-hand knowledge from which to understand how we need to support students on a campus and as they swirl among multiple campuses. The future of higher education is in collaboration, not competition, and this book charts that path forward.”
– Jason E. Lane, Dean of the College of Education, Health, and Society at Miami University and co-editor of Higher Education Systems Redesigned: From Perpetuation to Innovation to Student Success “Paul Marthers’ Managing the Whole Student Life Cycle provides a helpful survey of national efforts on student success, as well as guided questions to help administrators from diverse academic institutions enhance the student experience on their campuses. Dr. Marthers’ vast experience in admissions and enrollment at a variety of institutions, as acting vice president for Campus Life, and as Vice Provost of Enrollment at Emory University, give him deep insight into the need for colleges and universities to think holistically about their educational mission and the success of their students.”
– Pamela Scully, Advisor to the Provost, Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Professor of African Studies, Emory University; President-elect, Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities; Chair, Committee on Gender Equity, American Historical Association

“As his colleague at the SUNY System, I witnessed Paul’s ability to galvanize leaders from a variety of college environments, moving campus leaders from academic affairs and student affairs to work towards visioning enrollment as a concern for all campus departments. Not an easy feat at the time.

“Excellent book. Lots of takeaways. I appreciate the handy worksheets and summary sections. I could see this book used by campus teams that are now struggling to address ‘melt’ and ‘student engagement’ challenges.”
– Liz Droz, Associate Dean of Students, State University of New York at Oswego “This book is timely, relevant, and critically important for college and university leaders, enrollment management teams, student success teams, and truly everyone committed to the success of their students and the viability of their institution. Paul Marthers has done a masterful job articulating the challenges colleges and universities face today and are likely to face in the years ahead as the higher ed landscape becomes more competitive and faces even greater pressure for students, demonstrating relevance and ROI, and creating a compelling and convincing student experience and student success story. Marthers’ writing is a joy. He lays out the dimensions of managing the full student life cycle in a way that should compel and convince all college and university leaders, as well as their boards, and their faculty and staff. This book makes the case and offers a roadmap: management of the full student life cycle truly is everyone’s business.”
David V. Rosowsky, Ph.D., Vice President for Research, Kansas State University, Former Provost and Senior Vice President, University of Vermont

About the Author

Paul Marthers brings a uniquely experienced, and critically heralded expertise to this book. He currently serves as the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Co-Executive Director of the Undergraduate Project at Emory University, where he has also served as Interim Vice President of Campus Life. Prior to joining Emory, Marthers worked at the State University of New York System of 64 campuses as the chief enrollment and student affairs officer, as well as at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Reed College, Oberlin College, Phillips Academy, Boston College, Duke University, and Vassar College. Each of these roles involved managing a high degree of coordination between divisions that are often compartmentalized in higher education, granting him unique insights into how strategic integration of enrollment management, student affairs, and academic affairs can yield significant gains in student persistence by empowering a life-cycle approach to managing student success.

In 2007, The Chronicle of Higher Education named Paul Marthers one of “10 Admission Deans Who Are Shaping Their Field.” His nearly 30 articles and book chapters have appeared in publications such as American Educational History Journal, College and University, History of Education Quarterly, The Journal of College Admission, The Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, Inside Higher Ed, University Business, College Unranked, and Leadership Lessons: Vision and Values for a New Generation. He is the author of a book on the history of women’s colleges (Eighth Sister No More) and co-author (with Janet Marthers) of a college guide (Follow Your Interests to Find the Right College). A first-generation college graduate, Marthers has degrees from Oberlin College (B.A.), Boston University (M.Ed.), Reed College (M.A.), and the University of Pennsylvania (Ed.D.).


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