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Strategic Research: Give Your Enrollment Vision a Reality Check Ruth K. Sims, Senior Vice President October 2007 Copyright 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Strategic Research: Give Your Enrollment Vision a Reality Check Ruth K. Sims, Senior Vice President October 2007 Copyright 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Strategic Research: Give Your Enrollment Vision a Reality Check Ruth K. Sims, Senior Vice President October 2007 Copyright 2008

2 The future is embedded in the present. - John Naisbitt

3 The best way to predict the future is to create it. - Peter Drucker

4 Planning is planning for change. There is no need to plan to remain the same or to evolve slowly. − John Bean, The Strategic Management of College Enrollments

5 Higher education mega-trends: Can you see what’s coming?

6 Keep “disruptive innovation” in mind


8 An innovation that eventually overturns the existing dominant marketplace model or status quo

9 Characteristics of disruptive innovation The new entrant often is at first inferior in quality The new entrant is willing to serve markets that the incumbent finds inconvenient or unprofitable The incumbent continues to focus on its existing market and model, believing that the disruptor is not real threat Once the disruptor has gained a foothold, it improves its quality and begins to gain market share

10 And then there is a “tipping point”…

11 What is a vulnerable market? Marked by the absence of significant growth or innovation The primary product is moving toward becoming a commodity Leading organizations are focused on moving “up market” in their own world Leaders have a high investment in the current model of delivery To use the product or service, customers must go to an inconvenient, centralized location

12 What or who are the potential disruptive innovations in higher education?

13 Characteristics of strategic research Systematic and planful, not random 360-degree: internal and external Ongoing, not a one-time event Uses both primary and secondary methodologies

14 The value of research: debate is replaced by action

15 Why make the investment? Debunks institutional myths Puts individual experiences in perspective Gives decision-makers credibility Establishes benchmarks for future comparisons

16 You will never have enough information The information you have will never be entirely complete or accurate You will never guess all the implications or outcomes of a decision Research isn’t a crystal ball

17 Create your SEP research plan MARKET COMPETITION PRODUCT

18 Methodologies have unique strengths Data collection and review Paper/mail surveys E-mail/online Telephone Focus groups In-depth interviews

19 Q: How do we need to change ourselves to meet our strategic goals?

20 Research focus #1: The institution Student satisfaction and engagement metrics Faculty/staff satisfaction and alignment with student expectations Alumni satisfaction/outcomes Student attrition research

21 Current student research reveals broad institutional issues…

22 …and suggests specific applications Strategy 1: Assign undecided majors to counseling and advising and require advising/career counseling; require major declaration by end of 30 completed credit hours. Strategy 2: Develop an advisor assignment approach for all students. Strategy 3: Provide training for all faculty and staff who provide advising or other support services and/or interact with students during the enrollment process.

23 Only 60% of students reported that their primary goal upon entering college was to earn a degree. Of non-returning students, 89% said they had achieved their goals or made satisfactory progress toward them. = Degree Completion? = Meeting My Goals Research can address PR issues with boards, legislatures

24 Alumni research can inform your institutional strategy

25 “Do you plan to go back to (institution)?” Yes58% Don’t know 11% No 31% Student attrition research yields useful data

26 Faculty and staff attitudes shape institutional culture “As a result of the findings, we have involved faculty and staff much more fully in the planning process, and have made improvements in wages and benefits and in our promotion process.” - Jackie Virgint, Director of Institutional Research Santa Fe Community College (New Mexico)

27 Research challenges what we “know” Institutional Priorities Survey Student F/S/A Item rank rank Security staff response 40 6 Adjunct faculty are competent as instructors 27 10 Student disciplinary procedures are fair 44 8 Channels for expressing complaints 58 20 Ranking of items 1-85; 1 = most satisfied

28 Q: How will the market’s characteristics impact our future?

29 Research focus #2: The market Demographic trends Projected demand for academic programs Price sensitivity Lost inquiries and applicants Brand/image research Delivery format preferences

30 Demographics tell a story

31 Create a comparative financial profile

32 Market share and enrollment potential IPEDS, U.S. Census Bureau

33 Pricing research replaces intuition

34 Program demand shows opportunity NRCCUA Postsecondary Planning survey of college-bound high school students.

35 Essential attitudinal research What level of awareness of our institution exists in out- of-state markets? Are our marketing messages resonating with prospective students? How can we use different messages to target different types of students? How are we viewed in terms of quality against our top competitors?

36 Research reveals your brand strength The best brands have: Clarity – they are differentiated Responsiveness – to customer needs Trust – they deliver on promises Source: MacInnis and Park,, February 2004

37 Perception research can be a wake-up call “Name a positive perception that students have of MyStateU…” Percent Don’t know, nothing 42.5 Community, area, scenery 19.2 Programs, courses (general) 9.8 Social atmosphere, environment 8.5 Campus 9.0 Reputation 5.8 Smaller classes/student-to-teacher ratio 3.8

38 .. Research drives marketing strategy

39 Research reveals knowledge of cost “What is your best estimate for the cost of tuition for one year at one of (state’s) four-year universities?” –Less than $2,000 ( 4%) –$2,000 - < $3,000 (22%) –$3,000 - < $4,000 (21%) –$4,000 - < $5,000 ( 9%) –$5,000 or more (24%) –Don’t know (20%) More than 50% of prospective students either don’t know or over-estimate tuition.

40 Non-enrolling admitted students Telephone surveys comparing features with school of choice In-depth interviews that get past the polite answers

41 Q: What is the evolving competitive context for our institution?

42 Research focus #3: The competition Competitor enrollment trends Competitor marketing messages Competitor academic program offerings Institutional image vis-à-vis competitors


44 What you can learn from IPEDS Institution characteristics Degree completions 12-month enrollment Human resources Fall enrollment Finance Financial aid Graduation rates

45 Tuition trend comparison dispels myths

46 Understand your market share trends

47 Measure the basics of your competitive position Have you heard of (our institution/competitors)? (Basic name recognition) Level of familiarity 1-5 (Knowledge) One word or phrase they associate with the institution (Perceptions) Top-of-mind (five-minute) telephone awareness survey

48 Awareness of your name vs. competition % Yes In-state FloridaAlabama GeorgiaS. Carolina

49 Research to determine positioning and branding 1.Ensure that we are not simply duplicating the positioning of other institutions 2.Help correct misperceptions that exist in the marketplace 3.Determine which brand messages should be primary 4.Define specific messages needed by specific audiences

50 Research ensures that we use the right marketing messages Quality is… Faculty who publish The smartest students US News ratings Quality is… Faculty teaching Career preparation Successful graduates

51 Competitor message content analysis

52 Unique academic program analysis

53 Knowledge comes by taking things apart; wisdom comes by putting things together. −John Morrison

54 Create your research checklist

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