Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… December 2022

December… The month when we all look forward to a holiday break. An early Happy New Year to everyone.

Pro tip: If the first page of your Net Cost Estimator lets potential students get a quick scholarship estimate in seconds without registering, link to that from your “affordability” or “financial aid” pages. Just visited two universities that are not doing that.

Notable Twitter Quote:

  • “One of the best things you can do for yourself, your team, your marketing staff, and your faculty, is to show them where your non-enrolling admitted students attended. I guarantee it will put things in focus for everyone.” Jon Boeckenstedt, Vice Provost, Oregon State University

Tagline Reports: Taglines for universities mentioned in the newsletter are included. Found those on either a Google search result or on a home page. If you don’t see a tagline after a name, it is because that school does not use one.
Plan Now for Higher Education Connect 2023: Janus Boye’s first higher education conference this year in the U.K was a success. And, he’s started planning the 2023 event. Janus offers the best organized meetings I’ve had the pleasure of attending. See the first 3 speakers and sign up for updates as the agenda develops at “Higher Education Connect 2023.”

Join 906 higher education professionals on the members-only Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Join us at

Follow along with 7,100+ people for my daily marketing updates on Twitter.

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

And now, your marketing news and notes for December.
Cartoon of the Month: 20 Cartoons Over 20 Marketing Years

Tom Fishburne, as part of his 20-year anniversary as Marketing Cartoonist, selected his 20 favorite cartoons over the past 20 years. Treat yourself and follow along in his video presentation. See how much marketing has changed. Or not changed.

Visit “Marketoonist: 20 years of marketing in 20 cartoons.”
Test Optional Admissions: Fewer Students Using ACT, SAT Scores

A review of Common Application early admissions data for 2023 shows that only 48 percent of students are including test scores, down from 78 percent in 2029.

That may well reflect the fact that this year only 4 percent of colleges and universities require test scores, down from 55 percent in 2019.

More on changes in test optional admissions at “In college admissions, “test-optional” is the new normal.
Increased Marketing Spending: “Step-up” vs. “Stair-up” Results

If you have more money to invest in your marketing efforts, should you use it all at one time or gradually increase over extended time?

Seth Odell at Kanahoma agency says the gradual approach is the best: “When you spend a lot more in marketing chances are a lot more is going to go wrong.”

The best choice, Seth advises, is to spend new money to expand activities that are already working.

More on steps and stairs in a thread on Twitter.
Search Rankings: Google’s Guide to Success

While Google never tells us the details of exactly how much different factors count in search results, everyone will benefit from reviewing the information that Google does provide in a wide range of areas.

Under the “Page experience system” heading you’ll see that “how quickly pages load” and “mobile-friendliness” impact results. You can find old favorites under “Retired systems” but note that the best features on old favorites like “Hummingbird” are now in new systems.

More on how to improve search results in “A guide to Google search ranking systems.”
Email Marketing: 6 Tips for Better Results

Along with texting, email marketing to potential students remains an important part of nearly every college’s communications plan.

Compare your email marketing with the 6 recommendations from Higher Education Marketing Solutions. My favorite was #4: “Clarity above all else.” You’ll find examples from several schools, including McMaster University (“Committed to Creating a Brighter World”), Arizona State University, McGill University, and University of Pennsylvania.

Boost your email marketing at “6 Tips for Writing Email Marketing Content for Prospective Students.”
College Admissions: Even Presidents and Provosts Get Confused

You can still find people who say that students who can’t grasp everything about college admissions, including financial aid, are not well prepared for college.

Compare that attitude with comments from high-ranking college and university officials in Melissa Korn’s Wall Street Journal report as they try to help their sons and daughters through the admission process.

The article starts with FAFSA completion. Richard Holz, chief academic officer at Colorado School of Mines (“Earth. Energy. Environment”): “It’s like they want to know your shoe size. They want to know so much, and why is it relevant or pertinent? It should be so much easier.” (For readers outside the U.S. completing the FAFSA form is required to receive financial aid supported by the Federal government.)

Read comments from officers at University of Utah (“Innovators, Explorers, & Leaders”), Bentley University, Carleton College (“A Leading Liberal Arts College in Northfield, Minnesota”), and Rice University.

More on college admissions from higher-ups in higher education at “Even University Presidents Lose Their Minds When Their Teens Apply to College.”
Twitter for Higher Education: Is Mastodon a social media alternative?

Twitter practices and policies since Elon Musk took control have some people in higher education searching for possible alternative ways to communication for both institutional and personal accounts.

There’s been interest in moving to Mastodon. What are the possibilities and perils?

The folks at TerminalFour write about Mastodon works, how to join it and more. Start at “Everything you need to know about Mastodon for higher education.”
Cost of College: New Task force to Explore Price Transparency

A new Task Force featuring the presidents of 10 higher education associations (including ACE, NACAC, and NASFAA) has formed with the goal of making financial aid award letters easier to understand.

Peter McPherson, task force chair, claims that “College leaders agree that students need clear, accurate, and consistent information on aid offers.”

No time line for the work was in the announcement. See the 10 task force members, 6 “Task Force Subject Matter Experts & Technical Team” members, and how to contact the task force at “National Organizations Collaborate to Improve Student Aid Offers & Transparency on the Cost of College.”
College Rankings: Impact of Top Law Schools Refusing Data

How will the decision of many “top 15” law schools to no longer participate in the US News law school ranking process impact other higher education rankings?

Robert Kelchen, chair of the department of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and data editor for Washington Monthly’s ranking program, shares his informed speculation that the impact will vary depending on the type of institution involved, from “elite” schools to those striving for upward mobility to schools that just don’t care.

Kelchen expects the US News “reputation” question to possibly disappear as US News is receiving fewer responses from the people asked. He predicts: “The rankings fun is likely to continue over the next year.”

If rankings interest you, be sure to read “What is Next for College Rankings?
Most Popular in November Newsletter: Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World

You likely can get the first few, starting with Google. Hint: The 2nd most visited is not Facebook.

See how you do with the rest at “The World’s Top 50 Websites.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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