The author introduces grounded practical theory (GPT) as a useful research approach in the field of strategic enrollment management (SEM) and its focus on persistence-retention. The GPT approach is then illustrated by engaging sample voices of persistence-retention and SEM; scientific theory (the philosophical level) and normative theory (the technical level) as observed in the literature. The scientific theory voices and normative theory voices are then positioned in relation to voices of students and practitioners (observed respondents) who have identified real world persistence-retention and SEM problems. These problems suggest implications for reconstructing the relationship between persistence-retention and SEM philosophical, theoretical, and problem levels. In that the GPT process culminates with the researcher presenting a grounded practical theory, a persistence-retention and SEM model of what “ought to be” in the first 100 days is presented for the purpose of stimulating discussion, beyond this article, among practitioners and academics.



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