The Four Rs of Higher Education
Today, colleges and universities are spending millions each year to create awareness and attract new students. And once they do, what happens? In many cases, one-third will transfer or drop out after one year, and often less than 50% will graduate from the same university at which they began their education.
And that’s only part of the problem. Now more than ever, the prospective student population is older, less affluent and, in many cases, less prepared than previous generations to deal with the rigors of college. That means that today’s higher education marketing strategies cannot stop at enrollment. They must support retention and ongoing student success programs, as well as create lifelong brand ambassadors.
Consequently, higher education marketing strategies need to include the FOUR Rs:
Keeping students — not just at your school — but completing a degree anywhere, is going to become an increasing pain point. While overall attainment rates in the US have increased to upwards of 40-50%, the same rate for African Americans averages only 28% and an even lower 20% for Hispanics. Moving forward, retention will become an increasingly important measure for students and their families for selecting a school, as well as an opportunity for schools to improve their financial outlook if they can improve their success in attainment.
Today, prospecting cannot stop at acceptance. Prospective students are uncertain about their educational future and applying to a larger number of schools in search of scholarships, grants, and other assistance. That’s why strategies to effectively manage yield are increasingly important. Colleges and universities need to continue to connect with accepted students until the end of their college decision-making process.
To remain financially viable, institutions need to engage not only prospective studentsÂ but also re-engage them throughout their lifecycle — all the way through to alumni, so that they not only become your brand ambassadorsÂ but also financial supporters as well. Building programs that connect current students with alumni is another effective way to develop an ongoing bond between alumni and the school. Plus, it provides students support in terms of career planning, resume development, internships and career placement.
Building a strong reputation is as critical as building a strong brand. While marketing cannot create a college’s reputation, it is possible to harness the power of a brand to help influence reputation. Building strong emotional connections with all brand stakeholders, both internal and external, through an integrated university brand will work to deepen and broaden connections increasing overall brand commitment.
Learn more about how BVK can use proven marketing and advertising strategies to propel your institution’s four Rs throughout the student to alumni life cycle.