5 Essential Research Studies

Becky Morehouse

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Sherlock Holmes once said, “You can’t make bricks without clay.” The “clay” that many of us need these days is data; a clearer understanding of the students we want to recruit and the marketplace in which we must succeed.

While there is no end to the number of studies that you might conduct, we believe that research-savvy marketing and recruiting offices should consider routinely conducting the following:

1. Nonmatriculant study (frequency: yearly)

    • Why do some students who apply (and are accepted) not enroll?
    • How do students compare you with the school they ultimately chose?
    • Where were you in their choice set at the inquiry and application stages?
    • How do these students compare the admissions process of your school with the admissions process of the school they chose?
    • What college-choice characteristics were of most importance to this audience, particularly as they made their final decision?

2. Prospective student study (frequency: every other year)

    • How are you perceived (and misperceived) by prospect students (and parents)?
    • What college-choice characteristics are of most importance to this audience
    • Who influences these students?
    • What are their media habits?
    • To what recruiting strategies and communication tactics are they most likely to respond?

3. Tuition pricing elasticity and brand value study (frequency: every other year)

    • What role does cost play in the decision making process?
    • How will changes in tuition or discount impact share?
    • At what price point will you attract the most students?
    • At what price point will you generate the most net tuition revenue?
    • What role did brand play in the college-choice process?

4. Competitor assessment (frequency: every third year)

    • Learn how your academic programs compare with those of your top competitors on such variables as:
      • Enrollment by program
      • Tuition and fees (net, discounted)
      • Financial aid awards/packaging
      • Debt upon graduation
      • Time to degree
      • Cost per graduate (how much do you spend per graduating student)
      • Number of job offers
      • Starting salaries
      • Quality/rank/prestige of employers
      • Communication and web promotion, including secret shopper activities
      • Key/articulated distinctive qualities, characteristics, special experiences

5. Study of outcomes data (frequency: yearly)

    • Where do our students go after graduation?
    • What are our graduate school placement rates?
    • What are our job placement rates?
    • What are the average starting salaries of our students in specific academic programs/majors?

Gathering and synthesizing these data will provide significant marketplace clarity and dramatically increase the effectiveness of both your marketing and recruiting strategies.

Want to learn more? Schedule a free consultation today.

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