Your institution’s mission has not changed.
Despite all that is swirling around us, you are still in the business of helping people improve and achieve. You are still helping them understand what to learn and how to learn it.
Resilience is Built
Many institutional leadership teams are demonstrating the very resilience their mission statements say they will instill in their students. Others are suggesting business as usual with little change to their operations beyond physical distancing practices.
Investing in adaptation and innovation builds long-term resilience. This is what students are doing by investing in their educations – building resilience.
What is the story we tell students and parents? “Take the risk. We know it is a lot of money, but you’ll be better off in the long-term.” We tell students to invest in a 4-year growth plan, and we reinforce it along the way, “Don’t be deterred! Finish in 4 years!”
Are academic leaders following that same advice to build resilience for their institutions? Or are they crying poor, just like the students they are trying to convince to spend savings and take on debt for future gains?
Here’s the thing: institutions rarely stick to their own 4-year plans.
Example: Enrollment marketing initiatives often start with 3-5 year plans. The team acknowledges that real returns won’t materialize in years 1 or 2. And then, turnover in senior administrators and other outside factors suddenly defund the growth plan and little to no progress gets made. The planned investment halts after just 12 months.
I’m sure you’ve seen this happen all too often.
What To Do?
Develop the vision. Build the buy-in. Invest in the execution. Stay the course.
We will be adding a new set of research and resources available to our Intead Plus members over the next 8 weeks to help you do just that.
Read on to take a look at where forward-looking institutions are making these investments for longer-term growth (case studies are available).
The Current Storm is So Very Real
A recent article from Inside Higher Ed by Scott Jaschik reports on many institutions seeing their enrollment deposits continue to follow historical norms. Yet, we all have this sense of foreboding about what will actually happen this summer and fall to actual enrollment numbers.
The Chronicle of Higher Ed this past week has numerous stories telling us that bringing students to campus this fall will be a disaster and is simply not ethical.
You know the reasons to worry about how this fall goes: unemployment claims right now are astronomical and the looming potential for new virus blooms around the US and the world give us pause, to say the least. While many students’ aspirations remain undeterred, an older community, your faculty, holds significant concerns about teaching in person this fall.
Investing Leads to Growth and Risk Mitigation
There is so much to consider as we attempt to mitigate the many risks we are facing for our students, faculty, community, and institution. The risks of people falling ill and dying, for one, and the risk to our institutions’ very existence if we don’t enroll enough students.
Now is the time for academic leaders to look forward, far forward, and put in place all those risk mitigation efforts they’ve known were important for a long time but have long resisted.
- Programmatic changes that rapidly develop academic offerings to match marketplace and employment realities. Investment required to retool academic department focus, faculty composition, and curricula.
- Innovative approaches to teaching that deliver high-quality online learning. Successful models are now well established but require investment in technology and faculty training/support.
- Enrollment marketing initiatives that put the technology in place and access to skills to create and disseminate engaging and relevant content to targeted audiences along with the investment in consistent analysis of results (weekly).
These are commitments to growth that have led other institutions to great heights, far beyond where they started years before.
The Smart Investments
Near term, your local and regional community is going to be your saving grace. Staying closer to home makes a lot of sense right now and enrollment numbers this fall will reflect that change.
As we think about the current flow of students enrolling and planning to attend your institution this fall, take look at the composition of your intake: are those depositing far more local and regional than in year’s past? As you calculate melt, are you weighting by distance from your institution? As fall approaches and melt sets in, you'll see the wisdom of prioritizing and nurturing those closer to you.
Invest more into digital marketing to your regional community. Tell them about the career growth opportunities that will prompt them to act.
Hedging Bets: Marketing to Distant, Regional, and Local Students
- International Student Recruitment – innovate and adapt
That focus on international students is still valid and important and must adapt to new realities. Your cohort of Chinese students is not going to be coming to your US campus soon. So, what can you offer them?
Many institutions have built international campus partnerships that offer students an international learning opportunity in their home country. Others are feverishly working to create those opportunities for their international students. Our recent post about Turnkey Global Campuses that can be established for your January 2021 intake is a must-read.
- Non-Traditional Student Recruitment – demand will grow
Non-traditional student opportunities will fill revenue gaps and grow in the future. Start small and test what you are able to offer. Think low cost, quick hit skills that help those who suffered a furlough or job loss become highly employable and resilient in this new, remote, market reality.
Our Non-Traditional Student ebook (downloadable): Quality. Cost. Convenience. offers 9 different case studies to help you find an approach that fits your institution. The Intead Plus extended edition offers marketing plans and student personas.
Our research confirms: so many office environments are not planning to reconvene on site until January or later. Working remotely is where it is at for so many jobs. So, what becomes important now?
A simple step: take a scroll through Indeed and see what kind of jobs are being offered in your region.
For older employees, offer them new business skills in providing value remotely – IT support, software development, digital marketing and graphic design, database management, statistical analysis.
We anticipate more people will need skills in HR training and the new reality of remote management of employees:
- How often should you do employee check-ins and morale builders?
- How do you offer mentoring for less experienced staff who cannot build value for themselves and the company without the guidance and learning that was more common in an office setting?
The bottom line: How are your academic programs and certificates addressing these skills and personal career advancement needs? Are you using the current shakeup you are seeing around you to plan for the future? Our enrollment marketing team sees the big picture and knows how to execute on the industry insights we share.
Invest in long-term growth. Add the talent you need to make that growth happen. We’re right here.