Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… July 2023

July… Quite the weather events these past days. Hoping that everyone is doing well despite the heat and floods and more we are experiencing.

Notable Marketing Quote: “Just launched the sign up for my free newsletter, which will be a curated list of articles, podcase episodes, and other content most helpful to higher ed marketers!” Allison Turcio, AVP for enrollment marketing at Siena College. Subscribe here.

HE Connect Liverpool 2023: Janus Boye’s first higher education conference last year in the U.K was a success. See 11 top people participating in the September 26-27 program “tailored for digital leaders in higher education” at the conference website.

Join 915 higher education professionals on the members-only Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Join us at

Follow along with 7,200+ 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 July.
Cartoon of the Month: ChatGPT Early Adoption Perils

A recent survey told us that IT professionals placed priority on early adoption of AI capabilities. “Organizations are simultaneously pushing the accelerator to the floor while trying to work on the engine at the same time.”

See a cartoonist’s 6-panel take on the movement to ChatGPT from “There’s a lot we don’t know for sure” to “Only that we what to adopt it everywhere as fast as we can” at “Impact of Chat GPT.”
Ratings not Rankings: Money Magazine Makes a Change

In the new Money system, 34 of 736 “best colleges” received a 5-star rating based on their ability to graduate students who “get on a great career path without crippling debt.”

When you visit the “full list of ratings” you’ll find an alpha list of the 738 colleges included. You can search for an individual school at the start, or you can sort the schools by star category. Within each star group schools are listed in alpha order.

Start exploring the new system at “Why There is No Single ‘Best College” in Money’s Brand New Rating System.”
New “Threads” & Higher Education: Important for the marketing mix?

The immediate answer to the “important” point is that it is too early to say. For colleges and universities on Instagram (are any not there?) It is easy enough to join and monitor what’s happening. Unless, of course, you are a European Union school and can’t join for GDPR privacy reasons.

A quick visit shows that many universities have already joined… and many of them are welcoming one another to the platform. Search for “university” and follow your favorites to see what they do from this point forward.

For a good initial review from a higher education perspective, try Terminal Four’s blog post “Instagram Threads turns up the heat on Twitter: everything you need to know.
Marketers Beware: Confidence in higher education at a new low

Gallup is reporting results of a June poll showing that confidence in higher education continues a fall that began prior to COVID.

Combined totals for “Great Deal” and “Quite a Lot” were 57 percent in 2015, 48 percent in 2018, and 36 percent in 2023. The “Very little” group went from 9 percent in 2015 to 22 percent in 2023.

Confidence fell in each of the 4 groups reported: Political identification, education, gender, and age.

  • The confidence level among people with postgraduate degrees was severe, from 67 percent to 50 percent.
  • Among people aged 18 to 34 confidence fell from 60 percent to 42 percent.
  • Only one subgroup, Democrats, reported confidence above 50 percent and that was down from 68 percent to 59 percent.

More details from Gallup in an article by Megan Brenan at “Americans’ Confidence in Higher Education Down Sharply.”
AI and Student Recruitment: ChatGPT recommends 7 steps to improve results

How might colleges and universities use AI in their student recruitment efforts? Why not, as a starting place, go right to ChatGPT. And thus, this question: “How can universities use AI for student recruitment?”

The 7-step answer included several points that were not surprising. “Predictive Analytics,” for instance recommended using AI to sort inquiry pools to discover those most likely to enroll and focus on that subset of a large inquiry pool. We didn’t call it AI in the 1990s, but many recruitment plans included that in the great long ago.

Overall, most answers focused on how AI can help people spend their recruitment time more efficiently.

Check the 7 steps and details on each one at “How can universities use AI for student recruitment?”
Federal Grants and Loans: Where does the money go?

The HEA Group has published data on over 3,000 for-profit, public, and private not-for profit schools that receive Federal grants and loan funds.

Grand Canyon University “Find Your Purpose”) leads at just over $1 billion followed by Arizona State University at $900 million. Schools in the Top 10 whether for-profit or not, lean toward high online enrollments. Southern New Hampshire University (“Degrees to Propel You Forward”), for instance, is listed in 6th place at $773 million.

Scan the Top 10 schools and download a complete data set (loans & grants) at ‘Where Your Taxpayer Dollars Go in Higher Ed.”
Closings & Acquisitions: State by State Results Since 2016

Higher Ed Dive gives us an easy-to-scan map listing colleges and universities that have closed or been acquired since 2016. Pick your favorite state for results.

Is it up to date? Calvin University here in Michigan announced in early July that it is planning to acquire a nearby film school. That’s on the Michigan list now.

If you need to know this information visit “A look at trends in college consolidation since 2016.”
Enrollment Future: Public Flagships and Regional Publics

The almost proverbial “demographic cliff” is combining with increasing skepticism about the value of a college degree to reduce the pool of potential students. Alas, that is the reality for at least the immediate future.

Regional public universities are suffering from this decline more than the flagship schools in most states. Robert Kelchen, head of the department of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, gives us specific data on 5 representative states (Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee) together with 3 recommendations on how some places might “thrive” while others retrench.

For possible salvation details see “The Haves and Have-Nots of Higher Education.”

For a quick graphic view of undergrad and graduate enrollment at flagships, regional publics, and community colleges from 2011 to 2021, here’s a photo from Jon Boeckenstedt.
Digital Marketing: Surviving in the Future

Eric Greenberg, senior director digital marketing operations at the Wharton School, thinks that very few schools have invested enough in digital marketing to thrive over the next few years. Especially when investment involves hiring the right people.

  • An aspirational goal: “Track prospects all the way through enrollment so you can identify what resonates with target audiences back at the beginning of their prospect journey and use that information for your next round of applicants. This is more “level 2” and will require you to merge your GA data with your marketing automation data.”

More on advancing digital marketing capabilities including recommendations for a CMS and a Marketing Automation Platform at “Higher Education digital needs to move to the next level.”
Most Popular in June Newsletter: “Online Student Recruitment: Websites Not Working Well”

One of the findings in the 2023 Education Dynamics online student survey summarized by Carol Aslanian in an introduction: “Students turn to school websites as a primary source of information, but they have a difficult time finding the information they most seek.” That failure illustrates why top task research among potential students (and the willingness to design websites based on the results) should be an essential marketing element.

Download the report at “Online College Students in 2023: What Matters Most.”

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