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Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman

Competition In Edtech Is Off the Charts

Every time we turn around there is another set of edtech companies showing off their wares. At NACAC, NAFSA and the American Marketing Association’s Higher Ed Group, everyone has a tech solution.

We’ve been watching the rise of edtech and loving the growth and the disruption. From offering new ways of delivering educational content to how we confirm that students are absorbing that content, there are beautiful things happening. And the data being collected is going to help us all improve our education outcomes.


There are more than 15,000 companies in some form of edtech position. And by some estimates more than $50B (likely more) has been invested in making them grow. Some of the names are familiar to you and some are new to all of us.

But everything is not rosy here. All too often, the marketing for these companies shout out “Artificial Intelligence” and “Predictive Modeling,” when they are anything but “intelligent” or “predictive.” If you scratch the surface when you meet them at a conference, you’ll find that their “predictive modeling” is simply filtering their list purchases in sophisticated ways. We're thinking their marketing pitch might be better termed “Artificial Modeling.” To wit, they are selling stuff with no substance.

Intead will be doing a series of posts and webinars with industry leaders addressing edtech in the coming year. We’re excited to shine a light on those that are doing incredible things. As always, our Intead Plus members will get the best stuff from us.

Please read on for a nice summary of the wonderful ways edtech will transform the classroom, our employees, and our lives in the years to come.

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How much to pay commission-based student recruiters?

The agent debate ended a number of years ago for most of us. Sure, there are a few stragglers complaining about the unethical practices out there.

Our view: Every industry has unethical characters. Commission-based recruiters, as a group, have more than their fair share. Basic buyer beware precautions are the rule. Careful vetting and management of your recruiters will keep you from getting burned more than once.

Rather than being asked whether commission-based agents are a valid recruitment channel, we are now consistently asked, “What is the going rate?” And the market is shifting.

Intead and AIRC set out to understand as much as we could from both universities and agents in the current market. We published our report late last year and offered up a well-attended webinar.

Want to learn more about what others are paying their agents and how they are managing those relationships? Our most recent research findings and the webinar recording are just a click away.

Read on…

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3 Essential Budget Questions: A Framework for Planning

Is it moving forward? At the pace you want? Are you getting where you need to go?

If you are like most institutions, the answer is, “no.”

Or at least, the answer is, “Not as fast and at the level of quality I need and want.” So, here’s the most important question: Why not?

Budgeting for Student Recruitment

The season is upon us and whether you are submitting your budget for approval or evaluating the budget requests others submit to you, we thought we might offer some insight for your process.

Business school professors love to apply the latest 4 square analysis that simplifies complex industry quandaries. The marketing texts (Kotler anyone?) are full of flowcharts and other grids to help you make sense of the 4 Ps (Product, Price, Placement and Promotion). And then there is the ever-elusive ROI analysis.

And the best line of all that sums up our most cynical fears: We will beat the excel spreadsheet into submission until it tells us what we want to hear.

Oh, those budgeting meetings and the spreadsheet assumptions. How often do we go back at the end of the year and take a look at what we projected and what we actually achieved before we approve the next project budget?

Not often enough and usually not with enough of a critical eye.

Sometimes, having outside expertise performing an analysis or assessment of your processes and capacity against your strategic goals can really help move an institution forward. Send us a quick email to learn more about what Intead can do to help.

Download Intead’s 3 Essential Budget Questions – a 1-pager that offers a simplified approach to considering any budget request/evaluation. With this framework for evaluating your plans and whether they merit additional investment, you’ll take those complex quandaries down to a basic starting point to help identify where the opportunities for growth really are. We think you’ll want to share this one widely.

Read on to access the downloadable chart...

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Insights from AIRC & ICEF 2018

This week, we are just returning from the whirlwind Florida adventure that is the annual AIRC and ICEF conferences. This is our 9th year taking this trip, connecting with colleagues, sharing ideas, presenting new data and working together to drive innovation.

There was much discussion around emerging digial marketing techniques, assessment of our current global political situation and the students who are at the heart of it all. As with all higher ed conferences, we find ourselves loving the swirl of new ideas, invigorated, encouraged and looking to share our experience with all of you. 

I invite you to have a quick read through some of the insights from the two conferences and scroll down to enjoy a brief video we produced with several industry friends and colleagues who each have a deep and unique expertise in areas including: launching global brands, innovating, connecting people around the world and crunching data.

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Higher Education is Changing. Are You Keeping Up?

Today on the Recruiting Intelligence blog, we’re excited to broaden the enrollment conversation.

You may have read our guest post a few weeks ago from Dr. David Di Maria about the commonalities between international and non-traditional students.

Most Wednesdays, we cover topics related to international student recruitment. As our readers know, effective international student outreach requires an understanding of two fundamental concepts:

  • The first idea is cheesy, but true: no matter where we’re from, we’re all people with common core desires, fears, and drives. The desire for a safe and enriching environment, fear of isolation or failure, and the drive to succeed in our chosen field are pretty universal.
  • The second concept is the hard part: While we all share the same broad needs, our background does shape the best ways to capture our attention, meet our desires, assuage our anxieties, and encourage our dreams.

Understanding that duality is the key to effectively reaching international students and prompting them to take action (read that as "prompting them to apply"). It’s also the key to reaching another, increasingly important group of students. We’ve been thinking about these learners a lot lately, and we’re jazzed about discussing them here today: “non-traditional students.”

Non-traditional students are the future of education—both international and domestic. This is a group of students that clients are asking about more and more, and a market segment none of us can afford to ignore it.

We’re so certain of this, in fact, that we wrote a whole book about the subject. 

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Selecting a Marketing Agency: What Makes an Effective Team?

You know your organization needs to do a better job of recruiting in key markets, but how do you find the "right" marketing team? This is a complex question, but from our experience, there is one clear answer. 

Exploring an array of works by strategic thought-leaders including Brene Brown, Jocko Willink, Reid Hoffman, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, comparing and contrasting a range of theories and approaches, strategic and tactical advice about creating effective teams – a pattern begins to emerge.

The answer: When you are evaluating vendors, consider team culture carefully. With global marketing, there’s a lot that can go sideways quickly, and you want the right group of people by your side to launch effectively and adjust when needed.

Will your agency adapt to change with grace and thoughtful expertise, and still deliver results given the new reality on the ground? Will they have the global network that identifies the need to change and share it with you on the spot? Or will it become apparent later, after the campaign funds are long gone?

The "right" team is hard to find. We know that truth from experience. Read on for a bit of wisdom from one of our clients about choosing the team that will move your institution forward. 

But before you click on: Last Chance for a free pass to today's Intead Plus webinar, "What's A Muslim Student to Think?" with my guest, Wajahat Ali, Journalist, CNN Talking Head, NYT Op Ed Contributor and all around thoughtful, analytical, humorous guy. Starts at 11AM DST. You won't be disappointed.

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Leading Enrollment Planning, Leading Change

How’s enrollment going these days? Are your numbers where they should be? Is the trend on the right track?

For so many enrollment administrators, these questions prompt a level of anxiety because the trend is down and the storm clouds on the horizon bode more of the same.

There are steps you can take. And it is time to stand tall and act. Our advice: Never waste a good crisis.

Regardless of the field you work in as a leader, there is the perpetual challenge of launching new initiatives. The ideas and business plans are one thing – coming up with them is actually quite manageable. The world is full of opportunities that absolutely can and will succeed with the right team and resources behind them.

So here’s the question: Are you doing the assessments necessary to find the best path forward?

Market research looking outward can tell you where the opportunities are. Couple that with a deep internal assessment that identifies what is working well and where your investment of staff time and resources is doing the greatest good (and where it is not).

Learning Opportunities

One common element of this work is typically our digital audit to understand your online presence, web traffic and email performance. The results of this audit provide both market receptivity metrics as well as internal performance metrics.

You can access our experience and chart your path forward. At the AIRC annual conference this December, we will deliver a full-day workshop on global digital marketing and enrollment planning. This could be the low-cost opportunity that helps you jump start your enrollment plan overhaul. We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity.

Of course there is also our deep recruitment research and instructional library available to Intead Plus members (have you signed up for our can’t miss Intead Plus Webinar with Wajahat Ali: What’s a Muslim Student to Think?)

Read on to learn a bit more about what we look for as we develop customized enrollment plans for our clients…

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Student Recruitment Mistakes of the Desperate: Part 1

Perhaps it was the Saudi and Brazil bump that put your institution in good shape a few years back, with international students flowing in. But, you aren't impervious to changes in the market. Like many institutions, you may now find yourself looking around thinking things seem a bit less rosy.

We are continuously approached by universities and boarding high schools from around the world seeking international student recruiting advice. They are all at different stages of maturity in terms of their enrollment and admissions processes and we enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to resolve the unique problems each of these institutions face.

More often than not, institutions are hung up on the common challenges of people and budget. This is true of most service industries (and, in fact, product driven industries as well). There is no lack of ideas and opportunities. The only thing holding them back is the difficulty of aligning the team (people) and willingness to risk the funds (because there are no guarantees of success).

Often (more often than we all care to admit) we are approached by academic leaders who are desperate. It is late in the enrollment cycle and enrollment numbers are not where they should be. They were once successful and numbers were solid, and now they are not. Budget dollars are extremely tight. And yet, growth is demanded. What to do?

This is the first of a two part series in which we are discussing the all too common mistakes of the desperate. Those who have been in the industry for a number of years have seen this state of affairs at different times: the pressure to produce without the time and resources to do it right. And looking back at those times, we all know what the result was: ineffective and disappointing.

To do marketing effectively, you need experience, creativity, consistent project management (execution) and tracking (analytics). All of that takes time and money. When done well, you are in the strongest position to see results. When done hastily, without solid investment and for short, inconsistent bursts, there really is little opportunity for success.

This is why we do what we do here. We try very hard to keep institutions on the right path. Sustained growth is rare and difficult to achieve. Lean years happen. Our market research and creative agency services keep offer the industry intelligence you need to achieve growth and survive those years. These services do require a level of investment. Intead Plus is a great place to start, with full access to all of our research, planning worksheets, and state of the field webinars.

Read on for our first set of common mistakes academic leaders make when desperately trying to improve student enrollment numbers.

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#Trending: Managing the Process and Flow of Pathway Programs

 

This one is just begging for industry commentary. Kudos, REALLY BIG KUDOS, to Elizabeth Redden and Inside Higher Ed for her reporting on pathway programs. So many recruitment realities revealed, and struggles documented. Elizabeth’s research and prolific writing have advanced the industry conversation more than anything I’ve seen in a long time.

This post should be handy when your president or provost asks for your take on "what is happening with international" these days?

What just stole the industry conversation away from pathway programs is, of course, the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the Trump Travel Ban (aka the "Muslim Ban" that is *not* a Muslim Ban, cough, cough). With all the walls being built around this country by Washington to keep foreigners out, it just may be that pathway programs are more important than ever as a pipeline for recruiting international students. But as Elizabeth's reporting makes clear, institutions can't travel this path without clear leadership and a well defined strategy. Many are going this route in a way that will confound and harm them later

Our just-completed webinar with Karin Fischer addressed the Travel Ban decision and some of its ramifications. The recording will be available next week for viewing for all Intead Plus members (see below).

The institutions willing to share their struggles and successes with Elizabeth for the Inside Higher Ed story gave readers real insight into so many of the challenges in international student recruiting. Much of it has to do with factors external to the university and largely out of their control. Other factors are very much in their control and have everything to do with internal politics and alignment (or lack thereof).

When tied to Elizabeth’s article about recently released NAFSA research on the lack of planning that most universities have done around international student recruiting, one’s mind begins to spin. Lack of strategy and planning coupled with long-term contracts is a really bad mix. 

Read on for Intead's perspective on how pathway programs do and don't work. Buckle up...This will be worth the ride.

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The best-kept secrets in international student recruitment?

International student recruitment is hard work. So, when there’s help to be had, it’s silly not to take advantage... right? 

No, we’re not talking about hiring Intead to help you craft the perfect marketing plan (although...).

What we’re talking about right now is affordable, in-country support that not enough universities are using. We describe these options (and so much more) in our updated 88 Ways to Recruit International Students.  

That's right! The SECOND edition of our seminal ebook is now available as part of the Intead Plus membership. Fun fact: more than 8,000 of your global colleagues downloaded the first edition. And as part of the package, you'll have access to our exclusive webinar with Karin Fischer where we will reveal our latest findings about Indian and Chinese parents' perspectives. Gain a few new insights into what these important decision makers are thinking about a U.S. education for their children. Sign up now for the June 26 webinar.

The best-kept secrets we’re diving into in today's blog post are US government resources that can make a big impact on your recruitment efforts—and are accessible even if you’re on a budget. Please read on...

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