Redefining what education is about

In a recent meeting with a client who’s spent 30 years as a consultant to large education publishers as well as private colleges and universities, we started talking about the 800-lb question: How can the people responsible for marketing private colleges re-stage what the experience is about?

Private college is expensive. Get past it.

Any roundup of the usual suspects that are guilty of making private colleges so expensive usually includes:

  1. Privatizing student lending. When Sallie Mae was privatized in 1996, private sector lenders stepped in and the priority was profit, not progress.
  2. Sports, administration, and “amenities.” Division 1 sports present an easy target for tuition hikes. Administration-heavy structures are also to blame. And the rise of insane on-campus amenities has also drawn the criticism that education costs are being inflated.
  3. There’s no regulation. We buried the lead. “Universities extract money from students because they can,” said Andreas Schleicher, the German education researcher.
    In many countries, such as the UK, the central government caps tuition. Not so in the U.S, where we spend more on college than nearly any nation.

But it’s time to put the past where it belongs and focus on what to do next, which is to redefine what education is.

3 ways to reposition education

  1. Position the college as a partner to the student. Look at how Adtalem/DeVry’s Student Commitments take a step in this direction. It creates a sense of shared responsibility and shared success regarding process and practices.Or, to be pathetically self-serving, look at how we staged an online university’s content to bring students into the admission process feeling empowered and understood.
  2. Build content marketing that speaks to student realities. A survey of the Top Blogs for College Students reveals the everyday life of college students: Food, fashion on a budget, relationships, study hacks, life hacks, getting out of the parents’ house and, of course, the dark specter of debt.
    The lesson: Create content that speaks to student issues in real terms and stop acting so….institutional.
  3. Make it about the person, not the paycheck.
    Instead of defending tuition and with salary projections and aging stories of famous alums earning big bucks, talk about what it means to become a smart person – knowledge is what matters, being informed is what matters.

    Get them into your college by offering to change their lives. Then success, as they say, will be a matter of degree.

If you’d like to discuss where you went to school or where your current school is going, contact us.