I love a good example when making a point.
A real-life, real-world, real-deal, been-there-done/saw/heard-that event is a pretty critical lesson that makes any philosophy or intention more accessible. You can talk about a theory, but living it firsthand is more helpful.
I could talk about new program creation as an enrollment strategy, but a) others are writing to that philosophy here, and b) the science/art of it is an absolutely compelling process to which 300ish words can’t do justice. So, here’s my lesson of two:
- Small private college in turmoil had smallish latest class. Overall enrollment clocked in at a more than 70% tuition discount rate. Nearly 85% of students were in athletics (all getting scholarships), many majors had no bodies. New president’s solution—differentiate through academic programming (good!). With no research but a hunch, she started a musical theater major (genuinely “differentiating”), capping enrollment (“quality is important”), and gave large scholarships to “seed” the program (bad!). They closed the doors 18 months later, although to be fair, I am not sure even a Broadway-bound talent mill would have saved them. It was classic too little, too late.
- Nearby, its sister school weighed its own situation. With more than 50 majors on the books for 600 students (there were over 1,000 students once for that number of programs), the math was bad. New president had the situation analyzed; I presented what was known as Slide 16 that showed their Board 90% of students were in six majors and Slide 17 which showed how there was hope. With courage, they could eliminate many majors that were NOT mission-critical to focus limited resources; consolidate others into cross-pollinated, more powerful options (some pretty differentiating); and build some fully new options on the foundation of those winners (health sciences) they had. Today they are creeping up to 1,000 students again.
Today’s science of program degree conferment data and marketplace analyses to make product decisions (Whoa, just like REAL business!) is the right thing to do, and I hope you will consider the investment. My two schools here are a blip—I’ve got “but you don’t understand, OUR MBA will be different!” and “I know we’re in Michigan, but THIS online program will kill in Texas!” stories out whatever a wazoo is.
But when you can help influence and inform, remember the aforementioned former president whose short and brutish tenure went Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark rather than Cats.