Planning for Higher Education Journal

Using Scenarios and Simulations to Plan Colleges

Journal Cover
From Volume 33 Number 1 | September–November 2004
By Chuck McIntyre
Planning Types: Strategic Planning

Institutions referenced in this resource:
College of the Desert

Using a case study, this article describes a method by which higher education institutions construct and use multiple future scenarios and simulations to plan strategically: to create visions of their futures, chart broad directions (mission and goals), and select learning and delivery strategies so as to achieve those broad directions. The four scenarios described in this article are written by combining two assumed “external” sets of future trends and conditions with two “internal” sets of institutional policies. Simulation of future college enrollment under each scenario enables planners not only to mitigate uncertainty and explore implications of different numbers of students but also to analyze the characteristics of these students to design educational content and delivery that is learning centered and, therefore, likely to be effective. The simulations also frame fiscal issues for a broad range of future conditions, thereby alerting planners to long-range strategies and options such as distance learning, partnering, and differential pricing, among others, that might not otherwise have been pursued.

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