Archive for September, 2011
October is just a day away and another week has flown past. That means it’s the time of the week where we deliver up a heaping plate of higher education news and, this week, there’s the menu is big. From the Education Department easing some gainful employment regulations to discussions about outsourcing classes to proprietary schools, here’s everything you need to know about the industry:
- Going Off on Online Rankings (Inside Higher Ed)
- Survey Reaffirms That Colleges Are Fed Up With Federal Regulation (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Education Department Seeks to Ease New Program Approval Under Gainful Employment (Reuters)
- New GI Bill Now Covers More Job Training (ArmyTimes)
- APSCU Responds to Critical New York Times Op Ed (APSCU)
- Nevada Plan To Outsource Classes To Proprietary Schools Meets Resistance (eCampusNews)
(Image by Rene Schwietzke)
Attendees get ready to tee off during CUnet’s inaugural Premiere Vendor Summit. Second Row: Jon Delrusso, left, Ben Counter, Brad Gibbs (CGO – Plattform), Patrick Mckenna (CEO – DMI Partners), Jerry Slavonia (CEO – CampusExplorer), Matt McLaughlin, Brian Eberman (CEO – Avenue 100), Greg O’Brien (CEO – CollegeBound). Front Row: Dante Aubian (Sr Account Exec – CollegeBound), left, Greg Loeffelholz (Managing Director – CUnet), Brian Keigley (SVP – CampusExplorer), Doug Brown (CEO – All Star Directories), Rob Carbonaro (SVP- Avenue 100), Anthony Rolon (President – Americolleges)
The weather’s turning colder, the leaves are turning color, and CUnet has officially wrapped up another exciting summer season. The warm weather always brings good opportunities to reconnect with partners and customers – we thought we’d share some of our favorite highlights here.
CUnet Vendor Summit
This year, we kicked off with our inaugural Premiere Vendor Summit, a free event that brought together our clients and vendors for two days of discussion about news and trends within the online education space, the impact of government regulations on vendor partnerships, and one-on-one networking opportunities.
“It was an opportunity to engage our vendors in a discussion about how to thrive under the new government regulations.,” said Greg Loeffelholz, managing director of Inquiry Generation at CUnet. “We wanted to allow our top vendors to interact directly with executives from our agency schools to build a better understanding of operational change.”
Oh. And we also managed to squeeze in some golf at the lovely Paramus Golf & Country Club and take in a Mets game at Citi Field.
The event was a rousing success. According to Greg O’Brien, CEO of CollegeBound:
“The CUnet Vendor Summit was a very focused, balanced forum for higher education marketing leader. It provided a unique opportunity for leading organizations to share opinions, voice concerns, and discuss changes in the industry. If this becomes an annual event, I certainly look forward to next year.”
September is a great time to be a stats nerd. No sport more than baseball and no book (or movie) more than Moneyball highlights the value and, yes, thrill, behind data-driven decisions. Did I mention I was a stats nerd?
But here’s the thing. As business schools and executive trainers will attest, the object lesson that was the Oakland Athletics rise from perennial basement dwellers to a string of division champions is applicable beyond the sphere of…well…baseball.
Using expansive data, creative thinking and a willingness to question the very questions being asked, any organization can see major improvements, even if they are underdogs in a field of behemoths.
In the same way Billy Beane and his team of stats jockeys built a unique scorecard from the litany of obscure statistics attached to a player (batting average, on base percentage, walks hits per inning pitched, 40 yard sprint times), enrollment marketing has its own litany (think Contact Rate, Pacing, Scalability, Compliance, Cost per Start, Quality Score) to draw from.
If you don’t have your own scorecard in this market, you’re a high school team stuck on the pro ball circuit.
Simply summing up the metrics to get to 1 score per player wasn’t enough to turn the Athletics around. And here’s where you have to take the leap yourself. Billy Beane questioned the fundamentals of his game; not in the sense of throw the ball-hit the ball-catch the ball, but by playing with his stats weighting to value different qualities of a player.
Beane concluded that on base percentage was a much better indicator of a player’s value than the tried and true batting average. He did this by repeatedly attacking the wealth of data at his fingers. Slicing, resorting, hitting dead ends, and starting again were all part of the process to come to the conclusion. He had a hunch, he checked it against the data, and then he executed.
And that may be the final piece of the puzzle. In a professional, competitive landscape like higher education there’s little room for delay. You have to choose the pinch hitter for that last ditch attempt at a comeback win for your 20th straight of the season in seconds, not hours. You need a system that can respond to your decisions as fast as you want to make them. And you have to have a methodology to help you make your decision as accurate as you can.
Data + Scorecard + System + Methodology = Competitive Advantage
So what does all this really mean to a higher ed marketer? With the right tools in place, and an openness to test assumptions based on data, you can see dramatic results.
It means that when you’re having trouble with a specific program or specific campus, you don’t need to be afraid to shuffle your lineup with actionable analytics that not only tell you what decision you should make but make it easy to execute it. And this extends beyond proactively tuning buying strategies. If you’re a scout out in the field recruiting prospects to pass on to the big clubs, nothing’s better than knowing exactly which team is on the lookout for a left-handed shortstop that seems to live on the bases; nothing’s better than knowing where a nerdy baseball fan who loves long analogies and is looking for his MBA would fit in.
Turns out stats, just like sports, are 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. It also leads to truly win-win situations. In fact, Beane himself refers to the revolution he inspired in baseball, as a quest for “inefficiencies in the game”.
And here’s a twist. In the online enrollment marketing space, there are actually a lot more opportunities for win-win than in baseball. This is because each school and each inquiry generator is different; what’s a perfect match for each combination is different. You don’t have to have the budget of the Boston Red Sox to compete successfully because, you don’t have to hunt for the same things the other guys are!
And the best part? Giving you the tools to make these kinds of game-changing calls is exactly the reason CUnet’s Sparkroom platform was invented.
- Why We Need For-Profit Colleges (The New York Times)
Corinthian Colleges Cuts Jobs As Enrollment Slows (The Los Angeles Times)
- Why Capella Isn’t Participating in the U.S. News & World Report Online Education Survey (The Huffington Post)
For-Profit College Supporters Take Aim at Justice Dept Over Whistleblower Lawsuit (Higher Ed Watch)
- Portrait of the Military in College, Before the New G.I. Bill (Inside Higher Ed)
Florida Government Considers Privatizing Higher Education (Sunshine State News) Report Shows Career Education Students Have Higher Employment Rates (Career Technical Education Consortium)
Do all inquiries have the same properties? Or does the origin of the inquiry impact its time to convert into a start for schools? In an effort to answer this question, we recently conducted an investigation into the conversion cycle of inquiries across different channels, with some very interesting results.
While it’s important to note that our findings are based on a single school, the insights we gained into the PPC conversion cycle could have a significant impact on media spend and optimization, and are worth taking into consideration for any school that runs PPC campaigns.
What We Found
Using a monthly rolling conversion report, we plotted out the starts received each subsequent month from a given month’s media spend. While, anecdotally, a school’s average conversion window from inquiry to start is 90 days, the data for PPC inquiries we examined indicated a noticeably longer timeline.
As the graph illustrates (below), inquiries generated in October 2010 continued to convert to starts six months later. While 80 percent of the total starts came through within expected timeframe (the first 75 to 90 days), a significant number of inquiries were still converting to starts after that window. In fact, we found that on average, it took five months to generate 90 percent of the total starts.
(Photo by Williac)
It’s that time of the week again where we start to wind down from our busy schedules and sit back and ponder with insightful reflection on the past seven days of our lives.
Okay, maybe not. But it is Friday morning and that means it’s time for another round-up of important news you might have missed this week.
- For-Profit Seal of Approval (Inside Higher Ed)
- Conde Nast to Open Fashion and Design College (BBC
- Your Mom Really Is Going To College (Huffington Post)
- Comparing the Default Numbers on Subprime Mortgages and For-Profit College Loans (Rortybomb)
- The Practical College Degree Job Market: Forget the US News College Rankings. Enroll Here and Actually Get a Job (MotherJones)
We are very excited today to publicly share some recent client wins. Northwestern College, National College and Wright College have all selected CUnet’s Inquiry Management team to help them oversee and advise on their media planning and inquiry vendor management, expand their reach, support their brand, and generate more interest from prospective students.
This announcement is particularly meaningful as it comes during a challenging year for the for-profit sector. CUnet’s continued growth this year remains a clear testament to the quality and effort of our team members, our commitment to customer service, and our ongoing investments in the leading technology and compliance tools to support our clients.
We look forward to working with all three schools to help them to recruit and enroll the best students to suit their program offerings. You can read the full release on our website.
It’s almost the end of the work week! You’ve been working hard, attending meetings, answering phone calls and, in general, being fine exemplars of what it means to be a business professional. In celebration, here’s a compilation of links that you might have been too busy to notice.
First, kudos to Lincoln Group of Schools for capturing the human side of their students in their 65th birthday video:
Now, without further ado, some of the interesting stories floating around the Interwebs this week.
- How For-Profit Colleges Can Save Themselves—and Higher Education (The Atlantic)
- Imagine America Foundation’s Adult Excellence Award Offers Funds to Underserved Non-Traditional Students (Imagine America)
- Are We Ready To Support Online Learners? (Inside Higher Ed)
- Program Integrity Regulation Q&A (Department of Education)
- University bids for students on Groupon (Chicago Tribune)
Yesterday, National Louis University announced they are running a Groupon “deal of the day” coupon offering a 60-percent discount on tuition for a grad-level course. This interesting approach has, at the very least, garnered a great deal of “buzz” for the school, with over 100 articles to date, in a wide range of publications (not to mention a lot of activity on Twitter and other social media sites).
As the first offer of its kind, the school took on a number of risks by testing out this marketing strategy. I suspect in the coming days, we’ll hear the usual suspects share in their criticism over how this is another sign that the for-profit sector is turning education into a commodity, and how it illustrates that for-profits are willing to stoop to any level to recruit new students.
But when you read the fine print, it actually appears that the opposite may be true. In fact, the Groupon deal offers a discount on an “Introduction to the Profession and the Craft of Teaching” course that was designed specifically for Groupon, to “guide you through making the right decision about whether this vitally important profession is for you.” Upon completion, the course credit can be applied to a Masters in Education degree at the University, but no further commitment is required.
This may actually be a really effective way for prospective students to ensure they are a good fit for both the school and the course material, without the financial and other personal commitments a full degree requires. And by using Groupon to promote the deal, I suspect the University reached a much broader audience than they could with through other, more traditional channels.
Many schools struggle with retention concerns; one of the biggest challenges is finding ways to better screen for students that are prepared to take on the demands of a program before they begin. Maybe National Louis University is on to something here by offering a highly-discounted opportunity for students to “test the waters before taking the plunge”.
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