Creating significant change in small and midsized colleges is an art, not a science. There are some very critical steps that are often overlooked.
First and foremost, significant change is not about just driving new leads to the sales pipeline. In most cases small to midsized schools are structured as relics of the past with poor systems and processes for today’s adult and online student. In our Analytic work, we often find heavy reliance on print and billboard marketing strategies, followed up by many different points of entry into the institution where leads are lost and mishandled. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, a good lead generation group can fill the top end of the funnel, but strategists have to realize that is not the end goal. The goal is matriculated students who persist to graduation.
On the front end, how do you handle leads? How many institutional touches occur and in what frequency? How fast do you evaluate transcripts and package financial aid? In short, what is your speed to relationship engagement? Once engaged, the prospecting lead is off the market. If the institution is not able to engage appropriately, it will be fighting a losing battle every time with another school that does this very well.
Strategic change in adult & online education is about a paradigm shift… and it is just that…very strategic. It is a willingness to let go of the past and embrace a new very sophisticated population of students that are less impressed with your brand and more impressed with your ability to deliver and keep your promises in a timely fashion. And it doesn’t stop there.
Faculty must be retooled as well. In both the online and adult market, faculty are the retention experts. If you draw many students into the institution just to lose them with a big back door, your ROI is terrible. It is much better to recruit 20 and keep 19, than recruit 50 and keep 40.
Strategic Change in Adult & Online Education is a full circle revolution. Change involves pain and letting go of the past to embrace the present. It takes strong leaders to persist and drive the tactical initiatives. However, once accomplished it will keep your institution from fading away to irrelevancy in the 21st Century.