Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… Coronavirus Edition… April 2020

April. Not the happy month we were expecting. The April newsletter focuses on the impacts and adjustments from the coronavirus plague. None of us can claim to truly foresee what awaits us. Flexibility is more needed now than ever. Hoping everyone will find something helpful below. Most of all, stay safe.

No travel required for the April 22 online “Higher Ed Content Conference” from Karine Joly at HigherEdExperts. Details of 10 minute sessions by 12 speakers at 2020 Higher Ed Content Conference.

Gerry McGovern’s Top Tasks partnership group is doing a pro-bono coronavirus analysis for the World Health Organization for both civilians and health professionals who visit the WHO site. That work is open to similar health organizations. If you know health care professionals with website responsibilities who might be interested have them contact Gerry for details at

Join 815+ higher education professionals on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Visit to see higher education’s best task-oriented alumni relations site. Request membership at

Follow along with 7,300+ people who get my daily marketing updates on Twitter at

Forward this newsletter to a friend. Only email required here to subscribe for a personal copy.

And now, here are your April marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: “Virtual Collaboration”

Everyone is placing great reliance on virtual meetings as most folk work from home. Tom Fishburne notes the tech challenges in his “Virtual Collaboration” cartoon. As an added bonus, there’s a link to a Harvard Business Review article, “What it Takes to Run a Great Virtual Meeting.”

Start your pathway to stronger virtual meetings here.
Campus Sonar: Monitoring How Students are Talking About Coronavirus Changes

The folks at Campus Sonar monitor and report on how students talk to one another about higher education on social media. The result now includes a regular “Coronavirus Higher Education Industry Briefing” blog post from CEO Liz Gross.

The latest April 3 report is based on “438,000 mentions of the coronavirus and higher education March 31-April 2, ranging from 130,000-160,000 mentions per day.” Pay special attention to the growing “Admitted Student Conversation” category to help plan your marketing communications.

Read past posts and sign up for future ones on the coronavirus impact at “Brain Waves Blog.”
Enrollment Deposit Deadlines: Schools Moving to June 1 or Later

The list of colleges and universities extending the traditional May 1 deadline is long and varied.

Scan a list from the ACCEPT group last updated on April 3 at “Colleges That Have Changed Deposit Deadline to June 1 or Later.”
Student Surveys: Explore the Many Available

Surveys of what colleges and universities can expect re possible enrollment changes are out and about the countryside. Best to explore them all in search of the most common findings. A note: silver linings are rare. Some might say non-existent but that’s open to interpretation.

For links to surveys from Carnegie Dartlett and Primacy visit the Chronicle of Higher Education story: “COVID 19: The Crisis that Launched 1,000 Student Surveys.”

For links to surveys from Art & Science Group, cirkled In, and Kaplan Test Prep (parents) visit the Inside Higher Ed report “Will They Return?

Results from other firms are also reviewed in each article but without links.
Higher Education in 2025: Accelerating Rate of Change?

Wiley Education Services earlier asked members to project ahead to 2025 and predict higher education changes in 3 categories: “Students” and “Faculty” and “Institutions and Programs.” The 17 predictions are presented in an easy-to-scan infographic format. Coronavirus reactions over the past few weeks suggest that some of these changes will take place more rapidly than anticipated.

For faculty challenged by the rapid move to online courses: “They’ll need to stay abreast and be comfortable with new instructional technologies and changes.” An understatement, for sure.

For institutions: “Expect online and traditional face-to-face learning to merge.” If that didn’t seem inevitable two months ago, does it now?

How likely are the 2025 predictions? Review “2025: A Look Into the Future of Higher Education.”
Instagram: 5 Practical Marketing Tips for Student Recruitment

Marketing isn’t dead but it does need new approaches to maintain effective contact with potential students, especially those who have not yet made a final decision.

Waybetter Marketing’s Lindsay Bay offers 5 “simple ways to engage with students now while you continue to develop your long-term game plan” with footnotes to help you implement the suggestions.

Step 1: “Go live on your Instagram account to host a Q&A session or campus tour.”
Step 5: “Post to your Instagram story and ask current students to share what they’re doing while off campus.”

Review the full list to select what might help you at “How to Leverage Instagram While Students are Stuck at Home.”
Texting: 3 Tips on Adapting for Coronavirus Messaging

Mongoose Research offers 3 tips developed with the help of client recommendations on how to best use (and not use) texting for student communications.

Top tip: create a texting hotline for coronavirus updates and questions and “share your texting number on your social channels, on your website homepage, and on any learning platforms or portal pages, via email” and any other relevant place.

More texting advice at “3 relevant tips for highered texting through COVID-19.”
Coronavirus Creativity: Students Creating Campuses on Minecraft

“I’m not going to really see campus alive again. I can go to the buildings, I can go to the space, I can go to the actual square… but I’m not going to see camps as I remember it” says University of Chicago senior Jay Gibbs.

That sense of loss is motivating students to recreate their campus experience on Minecraft. Oberlin College student Pearce Anderson writes about the motivation and the results at many different campuses: Oberlin, Berklee School of Music, Boston University, Bowdoin College, UCLA, University of La Verne, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Texas.

More at “Campus is Closed, So College Students are Rebuilding Their Schools in Minecraft.”
Test Optional Policy: Coronavirus Increases Temporary (?) Additions

Test optional admissions policy have been growing at a faster than usual rate over the past year. Now in the face of the Coronavirus disruptions more schools are at least temporarily dropping ACT and SAT test requirements. Some say they might make this move permanent at a later date.

New at least temporary test optional additions include Boston University, Case Western Reserve University, Drury University, Tufts University, and University of the Cumberlands, Meantime, University of Oregon and Oregon State University also have dropped the test requirement. No public universities in Oregon now require a test score for admission.

More at “Coronavirus Drives Colleges to Test Optional.”
Budget Impacts: Cornell University Example

Expect new budget controls throughout higher education, even among relatively wealthy schools.

At Cornell, for instance, the president and other top admins are taking (unspecified) salary reductions for the next 6 months. New budget controls include: Hiring Freeze, Salary Freeze, Travel Ban, Summer Programs, Discretionary Spending (including outside consultants), and Capital Projects.

More Cornell details are at “Managing the Financial Impact of COVID-19.”
Most Popular Topic in March Newsletter: Email Marketing Audit Guide

Jens Larson at Eastern Washington University offers an easy-to-follow email audit guide divided into 10 sections: List Management, Optimization, “From” Line, Subject Line, Pre-header, Header, Headline, Content, Footer, and Analysis: The Bare Minimum.

Start your audit at “Email Audit for colleges and universities.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D.

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