Interesting summary by Inside Higher Ed regarding a recent Council of Christian Colleges and Universities meeting in Washington

Posted on February 14, 2019

Presidents of faith-based institutions of higher learning, including Mormon, Jewish and Muslim leaders, found they have common cause in defending the value and uniqueness of a faith-based environment and education. While I think their tone may have been a bit too defensive, the reality is that they have been under fire by many liberal organizations. The chief complaints by these outsiders, it seems, are the anti-gay attitudes (I won’t elaborate here) and limits on free-thinking by faculty imposed by many Christian colleges and universities. Stands taken by evangelical institutions especially tend to rouse the liberals. Requiring students to sign pledges that they will not have premarital-sex contradicts human biological tendencies, many argue. Maybe so, but here’s the rub: No one forces students to enroll in these institutions, and if they do enroll and soon feel out of step with progressive thinking – or their own sexuality – I am not aware of anyone being chained to their dorms or desks to assure their purity.

While it’s not Moses parting the Red Sea, the divide between traditional secular colleges and universities and those that are faith-based, appears to have widened over the past decade. Falling enrollment for many is a real threat as traditional feeder systems gradually diminish; Catholic prep schools, mostly in urban areas, for example, have all but disappeared. Much the same thing has happened to Presbyterian, Lutheran and other Protestant sects. Many of these schools are small – less than 10,000 students – and do not have the budget for modern marketing techniques, plus they tend to put people in charge of marketing that have little or no relevant experience. The result is falling enrollment and diminishing revenue while expenses keep increasing. The solution to this dilemma for many is to embrace proven digital marketing techniques; that’s one of the reasons my organization developed College Lead Exchange, an open, easy to use online platform where colleges have access to prospective enrollees whose profiles neatly fit with each school’s target student.

It should be of interest to faith-based schools that another component of my organization has for the last seven years examined over fourteen hundred colleges and universities while we looked for good, reasonably priced but little-known colleges and universities (www.bestvaluecolleges.org). For 2018-19 we selected thirty-eight faith-based schools as Best Value Colleges. Key to final selection is the requirement that more than sixty-five percent of a school’s students and alumni must have positive comments about the school, it’s environment, faculty and fellow students. As a result of our research, it is very obvious that there is a place for faith-based institutions in the American higher education landscape.  Families and students who feel comfortable in a God-centered environment should have places to go to further their education without feeling threatened or uncomfortable. Similarly, those who are part of the LGBTQ movement or mindset should be free to choose a college that supports their way of thinking. There are good reasons why faith-based schools are an important part of America’s higher education landscape. I only hope that their administrators open their eyes to proven digital marketing techniques in time to preserve their institutions.

Inside Higher Ed’s article can be found at https://bit.ly/2HPIJKo

College Lead Exchange can be accessed at www.collegeleadexchange.com

 

M.B.A. Applications Decline at Top Elite Schools

Posted on February 4, 2019

Applications to American M.B.A. programs went down for a 4th straight year, with even exclusive universities beginning to show signs of struggling to entice young professionals out of the solid task market.

 

For the very first time in almost a years, winding down interest in the conventional master of business management level hit organisation colleges that draw the most applications, consisting of Harvard and also Stanford universities, according to a survey of 360 colleges by the Graduate Administration Admission Council, a not-for-profit that provides the GMAT admissions examination. Those top-tier programs were till lately believed to be immune to the shakeout plaguing less-prestigious programs.

 

Americans have encumbered even more university financial debt than ever, as well as they have actually expanded progressively hesitant to leave work for a year or more to go after one of the country’s most costly levels, school managers state– particularly as the economic climate has enhanced. In feedback, colleges recently have actually released less expensive, extra versatile or more tailored master’s levels in hot locations such as information scientific research as well as supply-chain administration.

In the application year finished this springtime, U.S. organization institutions got 140,860 applications for programs consisting of the typical two-year M.B.A., down 7% from the previous year, GMAC data shows.

 

Till lately, international trainees had actually been an intense place for U.S. service schools. Now, foreign students face steeper hurdles to obtaining job visas after college graduation, leading less to put on U.S. institutions, university administrators say.

 

Total applications dropped extra dramatically this year than in 2017 as international pupils submitted 11% less applications this year. Applications from UNITED STATE candidates dropped 2%.

 

The decrease in M.B.A. candidates hadn’t impacted top company institutions until now, also as smaller sized programs such as those at the University of Iowa as well as Wake Woodland College shut their front runner two-year programs citing weak demand. A handful of large, top-tier M.B.A. programs such as Harvard Company College and also the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Institution in 2014 received a little bit majority of all business-school applications, according to recent GMAC information.

Harvard Company College obtained 9,886 applications for this autumn’s going into course, down 4.5% from in 2014– the biggest decrease because of 2005. Applications to Wharton dropped 6.7% to 6,245. At Stanford’s Graduate School of Company, they slid 4.6% to 7,797. Such top schools are still receiving many more applications than they can accept, however, the declines mark a turnaround after years of growth.

 

” People are assuming, ‘Oh my gosh, if the top is struggling to locate applicants, what are the rest of us going to do?'” said George Andrews, supervisor of admissions at Rice College’s Jones Graduate College of Service, which saw a 27% drop in full-time M.B.A. applications to 587 this year.

 

Agents of Harvard and also Wharton declined to comment. A Stanford spokeswoman claimed that the number of applicants will certainly vary from year to year, yet that an M.B.A. degree, as well as the Stanford experience, continue to be beneficial.

 

The M.B.A. was as soon as considered a requirement for climbing the monitoring ladder at several major American corporations. Yet as trainees have looked for much shorter and also more customized levels, applications have actually been spread across a broader range of institutions and kinds of organization levels, additionally weakening the M.B.A.’s hang on differentiating high-performing talent to companies.

 

GMAC’s survey this year included a document 1,087 business-school programs, including 571 M.B.A. programs. In 2015, it consisted of 641 company degrees, 426 of them M.B.A. programs.

 

” The growth of new M.B.A., as well as master’s programs throughout the country, has actually been enormous,” Mr. Andrews said. “Are there really enough students to load all these colleges?”

 

Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC’s president and president, said it is feasible business-school applications are bad as the UNITED STATE economic climate approaches its optimal and also can rise once more in the next economic crisis. But more competitors from high-caliber colleges in Asia and also Europe, integrated with the Trump administration’s heightened analysis of job programs for worldwide students, can continue to press American organization institutions, he stated.

 

Worldwide, the number of M.B.A. applications was flat from 2017, partially due to a rise in pupils wanting to pursue their levels in Europe and Asia, according to the GMAC study. Applications rose 8% to institutions in Canada and also 9% to schools in East and South Asia.

 

Soojin Kwon, admissions supervisor of the permanent M.B.A. at the College of Michigan’s Ross College of Service, said that in spite of a 9% decrease in applications in 2018 at the college, she anticipates extremely rated programs will recoup from the current dip. These M.B.A. programs “offer accessibility to tasks with eye-catching firms as well as great wages, with a solid alumni network. That’s what pupils are getting,” she claimed.

 

Smaller sized institutions likely won’t be so lucky, she included. “Students are wondering about whether the worth deserves it, as well as if they can, in fact, get work after that,” Ms. Kwon said.

 

 

Original: http://ow.ly/OiY530nzMgl

College Lead Exchange Launches to Address Need for Smarter Student Recruitment

Posted on December 4, 2018

BOCA RATON, Fla., Dec. 04, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — College Lead Exchange, a division of WhatsBestforMe, Inc. and the higher education world’s first cloud-based, SaaS, self-service platform to match prospective students and the schools most likely to admit them, was formally launched today, following a testing period involving thousands of students and nearly one hundred schools.

“College Lead Exchange is an open platform for colleges of all types to connect with prospective students of all ages,” said L. Joseph Schmoke, founder and CEO, What’s Best for Me, Inc. “It’s all based on first-person data, so colleges can reach the right-match students based on what students want to achieve and in what environment they believe they will thrive.”

www.collegeleadexchange.com is a proprietary platform, purpose-built to help colleges address their ever-present need for faster and smarter student recruitment. It’s based on a very simple premise: a better set of leads, accessible on demand.

“College Lead Exchange recognizes the value of purchasing quality leads that meet an institution’s demographic needs,” said Christina Shade, vice president of admissions, American National University, who has tested the platform. “The product is user friendly, flexible, cost effective, and should change the way institutions work in admissions.”

One of the many unique elements of the College Lead Exchange platform is that both sides of the marketplace are answering nearly identical, complementary questions; those two sets of first-party data translate to a transparent, frictionless connection.

“Schools tell the platform what their most-successful or needed prospects look like, while enrollees register with their goals and needs. Our proprietary engine weighs answers on both sides to optimize the connection, “said Barry Layne, chief operating and chief marketing officer, What’s Best for Me, Inc. “The future of student recruitment has arrived, one that allows higher- ed institutions to identify and acquire candidate profiles in an efficient manner.”

Registration on College Lead Exchange is free for institutions, with no subscription or contractual commitments. Profiles may be changed on demand by schools to allow them to focus on specific needs like filling new programs or addressing under-enrollment in specific areas of study.

ABOUT COLLEGE LEAD EXCHANGE: College Lead Exchange, based in Boca Raton, FL, is a WhatsBestforMe, Inc. (www.WBFMInc.com) company, as are student-facing www.WhatsBestforMe.com; and www.BestValueColleges.org, home of the Best Value Colleges Award program.

James A. Boyle
Boyle Public Affairs, LLC
jim@boylepublicaffairs.com
571-213-3979

Anatomy of a Startup – My 13th – This One in Higher Education

Posted on November 9, 2018

When my wife is asked, “What does your husband do?” She always says “Ask him.” When they do ask me I reply by saying that I start or acquire companies. It’s a short conversation unless the person runs or invests in small to mid-sized companies (or wants to). Then the conversation generally segues to an oft-asked question, “Where do you get the ideas?” That is what this article is about – where the ideas come from. To answer that I will provide some detail regarding where the idea for my thirteenth startup came from, how it developed, and where it’s at now.

Most of my ideas have come from being immersed in a business or industry and becoming frustrated at what I perceive as shortfalls in either product or service quality in my daily dealings. We all from time to time think we can do things better and tend to complain, either silently or loudly, about something that falls below our expectations. That was the case when I was CEO of a small university that needed to increase enrollment so we bought leads from several marketing organizations. I had to sign a contract for a certain number of leads per month, which was okay, but I couldn’t choose the characteristics of the leads, which was not okay. But that’s the way things worked: buy leads and hope that two out of a hundred somehow ended up enrolling in our degree programs.

The calls from lead vendors came in every week and the vendors all said their leads were better than anyone else’s and would I give them a try. Sometimes I did, but it was always the same problem: the leads weren’t what I was looking for, which were people in their 30s who needed to start or finish a degree program. They were out there somewhere, but the vendors couldn’t pinpoint them for me. That bothered me and I kept saying to myself that if I were running a lead vendor I could do so much better.

In December 2010 I transferred control of the university to a venture capital-backed group, and semi-retired. But in the back of my mind, I still thought the higher education lead generation business needed to be brought into the twenty-first century by borrowing best practices from other industries. Those thoughts lay dormant until I met a gentleman with a strong background in digital marketing. He and I talked about what each perceived as unique opportunities. I mentioned the archaic state of lead generation and lead purchasing in higher education, and described the shortcomings as I saw them. He thought for a second and then asked me, “Are you familiar with programmatic exchanges?” I had no idea what he was talking about.

Programmatic exchanges are used in the advertising industry so publishers, for example, can post pages that are unsold and agencies bid on some or all of the unsold pages. Publishers fill their publication with advertisers and the advertisers get bargain prices on the page space. All this is done online in frictionless transactions. This was all new to me, but I could see what he was getting at. Instead of advertisers bidding on space in a magazine I could see college admissions departments bidding on the kind of leads they wanted. My digital expert friend and I said: “let’s do it!” And we started College Lead Exchange.

As you might imagine there’s a big gap between deciding to do something – start a company in this case – and launching the company’s product. As I didn’t want to start from scratch with technology the first thing we did was contact organizations in the advertising and investment industries about licensing or acquiring their technical platforms. We were met with a deer-in-the-headlights response. Every company we spoke with said, in essence, we’re not in the education lead business and we don’t have any interest in licensing or selling our technology. That was bad news. Now we would have to develop the technology ourselves, which would be expensive in both dollars and time. But we had no choice.

Eighteen months and about a million dollars later we had a platform that was pretty much what we wanted. The important differentiators, those that addressed issues I had identified as university CEO, were an integral part of the platform. These features included the ability of colleges to determine criteria for leads they wanted, for example,  a  thirty-year-old female RN interested in a bachelor’s degree in nursing that wanted to enroll in three months. The platform had to be self-serve and available 24/7. Contracts to purchase a minimum number of leads were not necessary. Automatic download of leads plus a credit line were must-haves. All this had to work seamlessly. It took time, it was expensive, and every bit necessary.

We learned that, in version one, we couldn’t offer bidding so that was tabled for v.2. And in beta testing we quickly learned that our proprietary lead generation source provided an inadequate number of leads. I told people that it was kind of like we had decided to get into the gold business and to do so had to find a vein of gold, sink a shaft, mine and then refine the gold. But our beta testers, college admissions departments, wanted gold immediately. So we decided to source additional leads from two trusted third parties, one generating leads just for us and the other a twenty-year-old lead generation organization. Supplies of leads were now assured.

Now we had to sell colleges on using the platform. For those of you used to dealing with administrators in higher education you will understand that new things are a tough sell. New things threaten the status quo; they make people take what they perceived as risks. Many higher-ed administrators, even those in the admissions (e.g., sales) departments are wary of anything new. They think they’ve heard and seen it all, and they have up until now as very little has changed in the way they market their schools or buy leads in decades. Now we had to address the challenge of convincing the old fuddy-duddies to take a look. Some did, and they were surprised that someone had come up with something like this. Asked to rate the platform on a one-to-ten scale the worst rating was an eight. That’s where we are now after about eighteen months of developing the technology and refining the way it works.

Lastly, there is always the challenge of finding some dollars to fund a new venture and, as important, finding a few good people to make it happen. Fortunately, I have been raising money for companies I start or acquire for over forty years so that was not a problem for us. We did not seek venture capital funding. The few outside investors we have are people who have invested in other companies I started or acquired. We kept the company lean and watched every dollar. People took less than market compensation which was offset by equity or options. I have always shared ownership with those who help get a company off the ground and this startup is no different.

Now that we have what we feel is a unique platform that we expect will revolutionize the way colleges obtain prospective enrollees the next challenge is gradually rolling it out, first in our primary target market of non-elite colleges, and then all across the spectrum of the nation’s eight thousand colleges, universities, career schools, apprenticeship programs, and executive education. The real work has just begun, but the startup phase is behind us. Number thirteen is not an unlucky number for me!

California university students can take totally free online course from any state organization

Posted on October 26, 2018

The California State University system is more broadly promoting an effort that will permit its domestic student to gain access to online courses at any of its 23 schools through a brand-new database released today, Inside College reported. Students will have the ability to take one totally free online course each term.

More than 2,400 students have enrolled through the system.

In November, Quartz reported that 200 more universities were using complimentary enormous open online courses, contributing to some 800 organizations that have provided about 8,000 MOOCs considering that 2012.

Given that 2013, the system has permitted students to enroll at other schools, and now some 3,000 are offered to students who have completed one term and 12 credits, acquired a minimum of a 2.0 GPA and paid full-time tuition.

If courses are ideal for them, the CSU Completely Online database was launched last week with a self-test to assist students to see. The database will make the classes more available, system authorities hope, and a marketing project through social networks and numerous system sites will promote it. Each student’s specific website will have a link to the database, and school advisors will be trained in how to describe the usage of the system.

Hawaii, Illinois, Nebraska, New York City and Texas are amongst the states that provide comparable course-share programs.

Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania revealed just recently that it was moving into the online arena to expand its appeal and attract its students to summer season courses. A university authority stated the college was preparing to establish a mixed program quickly as part of an effort to use e-learning to its students. EdSurge has reported that smaller personal colleges are providing online courses to their students to survive.

The relocation belongs to a Graduation Effort 2025 through which the state university system wants to reach objectives to raise the graduation rate for state students and remove the accomplishment space. When one they hoped to go to is complete, it is likewise ending positioning tests and assisting students to discover another state university.

Original Post: http://ow.ly/4olM30mobrt

WhatsBestforMe, Inc. Launches Higher Education’s First Student Recruitment Platform to Match Learners of All Ages with Appropriate Post-Secondary Schools

Posted on October 9, 2018

Founder and Team’s Intent is to Disrupt Decades-old Student Recruitment Paradigm

BOCA RATON, Fla., Oct. 09, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WhatsBestforMe, Inc. unveiled today its revolutionary new online-based higher education student recruitment platform, one that allows higher ed institutions to identify candidate profiles and acquire them in a fast, efficient and exclusive manner.

The platform is comprised of three elements: the college recruitment-focused www.CollegeLeadExchange.com; the prospective student-facing www.WhatsBestforMe.com; and www.BestValueColleges.org, a site dedicated to assessing and recognizing schools beyond existing rankings services.

The announcement was made by WhatsBestforMe, Inc. founder and CEO, L. Joseph Schmoke, and Barry Layne, the company’s COO/CMO.

“Admissions offices within higher education are spending billions a year on a process that has not changed much in a half-century,” said Schmoke. “I’ve spent decades starting companies that disrupted legacy processes and industries, and student recruitment is the process that needs change now.”

CollegeLeadExchange.com is a dynamic, cloud-based platform designed exclusively for schools to connect with prospective students. Schools register on the platform, specifying student traits and interests; that data is then matched with prospective enrollees who have indicated those same interests.

Student-facing WhatsBestforMe.com, a mirror image to CollegeLeadExchange.com, provides students the platform entry point to register their targeted educational goals. Recruiters then have immediate access to these high-intent candidates.

“Over the last two years, thousands of prospective students told us what they want from an institution and how to be noticed by schools that meet their needs,” said Layne. “Nearly 100 higher education marketing and recruitment professionals also told us what kind of students will best fill their programs and what they want to know about them before they make direct contact. It is that combination of first-party data from both prospective students and schools that helps power our dynamic and efficient platform.”

The BestValueColleges.org platform introduces students to schools that the company’s advisory and review team deemed to be award-worthy based on academics, costs, quality of life, and student feedback.

ABOUT WHATSBESTFORME, INC.
WhatsBestforMe, Inc. is a Boca Raton, FL-based student/college connection company that enables prospective enrollees to register with its proprietary platform  www.WhatsBestforMe.com and colleges to do the same at www.CollegeLeadExchange.com, where they can identify candidate profiles and acquire them in a fast, efficient, exclusive manner. It also supports www.BestValueColleges.org, the leading independent award program in higher education.

Jim Boyle
jim@boylepublicaffairs.com
571-213-3979

Select the college enrollee profiles that are most likely to convert to a start, then shop online for leads that match your selected profile. Do it when you need leads. No contracts and no minimum. No, we’re not kidding.

Posted on September 26, 2018

“After listening to lead vendors pitch to me several times a week for over five years, none of which converted as promised, I decided to create a lead source that I’d have given my right arm for back then,” said former private university CEO Joseph Schmoke. “Fortunately, I met a long time digital marketing executive, Barry Layne, who suggested we look at what was being done in other industries and adapt it for the higher education marketplace.” That led to the creation of higher ed’s first platform designed to effortlessly serve admissions departments at the thousands of US-based colleges and universities that want to increase enrollment and revenue.

Borrowing ideas from the likes of match.com, eBay and other online transaction and matching services, Schmoke and Layne developed College Lead Exchange. This pioneering service does away with some of the irritating requirements set by traditional lead vendors. Layne says schools are not required to sign contracts. A college does not have to buy a minimum number of leads each month. “Buy what you want when you want. Buy one, none or a hundred. Once a day, once a month, or a few times a year. It’s up to the admissions team,” Schmoke said.

Maybe the best feature, according to Layne, is the ability to determine an admission team’s ideal enrollee profile, see if there are lead files in College Lead Exchange’s dynamic database that match the profile. The admissions officer can buy whatever number, at the stated prices, that the team needs to meet its enrollment goals. “The admissions team can change their criteria at will, online, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” Layne commented. He also said that to simplify financial arrangements, College Lead Exchange will offer automatic credit terms and bill the school on a net-30 basis.

The objective is to make it easy, simple and fast to obtain good leads at a fair price when you need them, said the College Lead Exchange founders. Schmoke uses an analogy that most people quickly grasp. He says “Say you are at home and you’re hungry. You know there’s nothing in the fridge or the cupboard, or what’s there you don’t want, so what do you do? You probably go to the grocery store, pick exactly what you want, buy it, and make something that satisfies your hunger. Same thing with College Lead Exchange. Only with the kind of leads you want instead of food.”

Schmoke and Layne know that this new service will take some time to be fully accepted by college and university admissions staffs. It’s very different from what these staffs have worked with for decades, and to many in higher education change is threatening if not frightening. “But there will be those who immediately see the advantage of this new platform and will step forward and incorporate it into their operations,” Schmoke suggested, “and we will do everything possible to help them benefit from its use.”

College Lead Exchange can be browsed for free, and admissions staffers are encouraged to register and see how many leads currently meet their criteria. Beginning in October lead inventory will change daily. There’s no cost or obligation to check it out, and Layne says “Come on, tell the platform what kind of leads you’re looking for. You don’t have to buy any.” www.collegeleadexchange.com

College Lead Exchange is part of the WhatsBestforMe, Inc. group of companies, which includes www.whatsbestforme.com and www.bestvaluecolleges.org and is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida in the Research & Development Park at Florida Atlantic University. They can be reached at 561-877-0071 or info@collegeleadexchange.com

Sixth Year Selecting Best Value Colleges; Only 56 Made the Grade

Posted on September 10, 2018

In 2013 a small group of former college and university presidents, CEOs and executives decided they had enough of the various rankings published every year by “the usual suspects.”  Forming an organization called University Research & Review, they set out to ferret out good, reasonably priced but lesser-known institutions. Many of the thousand-plus schools were eliminated because of their high cost to attend; others because their students and alumni had less than complimentary things to say about their school.

The first year twenty-one colleges were awarded the University Research & Review Best Value School designation. For 2018-2019 there are fifty-six colleges and universities that withstood rigorous examinations and earned the Best Value designation. Further, the award branding was changed to WhatsBestforMe’s Best Value Colleges to more accurately reflect the Award’s original goal.  The goal was to offer suggestions to individuals of all ages interested in college that there are very good schools where students are happy and costs are reasonable.

Examples of 2018-2019 Best Value Awardees are two Saint Marys, one a college in Omaha, Nebraska one a university in Leavenworth, Kansas. They are both Catholic institutions but don’t want to be labeled “religious” as all faiths and ages are welcome at both schools. The College of Saint Mary is for women only. The University of Saint Mary is coed. Both institutions have an annual cost to attend in the $20,000 range, and our research indicates a great majority of students and alumni love the schools.

The full list of fifty-six colleges and universities can be found at www.bestvaluecolleges.org and there is no cost to use the site and each institution selected does not pay for their selection or inclusion on the site..

Thousands of college freshmen drop out ever year. So what!

Posted on July 23, 2018

I am so tired of hearing “…55 percent who started (college) were gone the following year.” The college referred to is Texas A&M-Texarkana but could be any one of the thousand of non-elite colleges and universities in America.  I am also sick of hearing about strong recruiting efforts but weak retention efforts. Recruiting, on one hand, generates revenue and it is apparently a bit easier than retention, which takes the kind of effort few institutions are willing – or able – to muster.

Since it’s not in cricket to complain absent a solution, I’m going to suggest a solution or two in honor of my cricket-playing buddy now traveling the world, Kurt the Canadian.

If one of the big worries in higher education is the loss of a large percentage of college freshmen before they start their second year, and it apparently is, I suggest everyone involved look at this for what it is. It’s a naturally recurring event, folks.  Lots of first-year students leave college after experiencing – and paying for – something that for whatever reason is not right for them.

When I come across situations like this I am reminded of the dilemma McDonald’s franchisees faced once they opened their new restaurants. These franchisees, most of whom were responsible businesspeople, were appalled at the turnover they experienced with their young help. They tried hiring smarter, whatever that means, but that didn’t solve the problem. Eventually, the headquarters field managers convinced the franchisees that turnover was always was going to be part of an operator’s challenge.  Accept that as a fact and deal with it, the managers said. The fact that lots of first-year college students do not become second-year college students is a fact of life; accept it and deal with it.

I know you’re thinking, Thanks, Joe, but my institution is not ready to accept that as we want students to continue with their education – that’s why we’re here at good old EDU.  Let me point out that Texas A&M-Texarkana’s 55 percent loss increased from 44 percent two years prior. The trend, I suspect, is real. Reject this reality at your peril, or maybe just stick your head in the sand.

But I think these dropouts, who collectively are an annual experience that will not go away, can be helped and at the same time be of help to the institution itself.  Here’s what I would do if all it took was a magic wand and the word Shazaam to make things better for everybody involved. I would create an environment that, first, acknowledged college isn’t for everyone, and second, that there are alternatives to a college degree. I would present those alternatives, including career-oriented certificate programs, in a non-judgmental manner.  In other words, allow that it is okay if you feel your choice to enroll in college might have been premature or even a mistake.  I would arrange articulation agreements with community colleges with career-oriented programs. I would invite outside career advisors to speak to the group who might be wavering in the commitment to a college degree. In doing so, I would expect two things to happen. One would be a great public relations coup, especially when testimonials come in from individuals helped by this unique approach. The second positive result, I would expect, would be some actual guidance and help for those students who will inevitably choose to drop out.

Of course, I do not expect even one college or university to adopt this approach.  I just hope that my somewhat unique observations and unusual suggestions will spark other, better ideas.  But whatever the reaction, I advise those of you in higher-ed decision-making positions to accept the reality of annual shrinkage between freshman and sophomore classes. It is inevitable.

How smaller colleges can find leads that convert to enrollments

Posted on June 18, 2018

The big challenge for many colleges and universities that don’t have a widely recognized brand name and elite reputation is finding enough qualified prospective students to meet their enrollment goals. Marketing budgets – and maybe expertise – are in many cases insufficient to generate the number of leads required to fill seats or online courses. Recruiting students is never easy nor inexpensive, but there are some best practices that have evolved, using new technology, that are proving to be a lifeline for admissions officers and representatives.

Make no mistake, the very best enrollment leads are the ones that call you. Conversion rates for leads you develop through your website, your publicity, and especially your happy students and alumni, are the highest of any lead source. But sometimes you can’t get enough of these calls to meet your enrollment goal. So what’s next best?

Many large institutions contract with third-party marketers to originate leads. Some score these leads and only pass on the ones that are likely, or somewhat likely, to enroll. The problem with this process is that it is expensive and priced out of reach for most colleges, especially those schools that are discounting tuition to be competitive in costs to attend.

There are other marketers who will handle generating leads, calling them, and processing enrollments. But you pay dearly for this service, many times a large portion of the tuition generated. This, by the way, works best for those institutions that don’t understand how to market themselves and “close the sale” with prospective enrollees. Many of us think this is a “fool’s game” that increases enrollment but decreases bottom line for the institution.

Of course, there are the standard lead generators like ClassesUSA. Many of you have used them or their competitors paid about $40 per lead and experienced a conversation (enrollment) rate approaching 2%. You have also experienced responses from these leads like “How did you get my name?” and “I’m not interested in college.” For the two-out-of-one hundred that enrolls your admissions team have been frustrated by the ninety-eight that proved to be a waste of time. And there are no refunds for the ninety-eight that didn’t pan out.

We think there’s a better way. An answer to locating prequalified prospective enrollees that is inexpensive, easy to use – it’s self-serve – and works somewhat like an eBay for college enrollees leads. It’s an online platform where admissions managers can list their criteria for “ideal” leads and quickly find out how many are immediately available.  They can then check the cost and, with no contract, download some, all or none. These leads originate from several sources, among them purpose-built and promoted websites like www.WhatsBestforMe.com as well as established marketing organizations specializing in higher education leads.

This online source is found at www.CollegeLeadExchange.com. Like shopping online, it doesn’t cost anything to browse, and no contracts are required. Purchases of leads, for those who choose to acquire them, are billed at the posted price on a net-30 basis. But here’s the problem: the site won’t be transactional until around August 1, 2018. You can browse now, establish your custom criteria for leads, and see how it all works, but you won’t be able to buy anything until early August. So take a peek now…