Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… August 2022

August…In between surviving the heat many of you are getting ready for a new freshman corps and the proverbial “move in” days. Congratulations and good luck to all for exciting days. And on to 2023… the Common App is open.

Notable Twitter Quote: “Okay I think it’s time I just say it. I hate the ‘Learn More’ CTA.” Day Kibilds, strategy director at Ologie.

New for August: Taglines for some universities mentioned in the newsletter are included. Found those either on a Google search heading or on a home page. If you don’t see one it is because that school does not seem to use a tagline. Or it wasn’t obvious.
Janus Boye is holding a new Higher Education Connect conference in Manchester, U.K. this September 27-28. Janus creates the best organized, friendliest conferences I’ve had the pleasure of attending. Check the conference program here.

Increase your website recruitment strength. Keep potential students smiling after their first visit with rapid completion of the tasks that brought them to your site. Gerry McGovern’s Top Task webinar series continues on August 9. Register for “Top Tasks Overview.”

  • How to identify what matters most–the Top Tasks
  • How to measure the performance of the Top Tasks
  • How to create a classification / navigation based on Top Tasks

Join 901 higher education professionals on the members-only Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Check the latest post: “Top Task Student Recruitment Emphasis” with links to two university home pages that put academic program links in priority position. 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 August marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: ”how to give creative feedback”

In reality, 6 things you should never say during a creative presentation, starting with “Make the logo bigger” and ending with “Our priorities have changed and we need to ‘Pivot.’

See the other 4 at “how to give creative feedback.”
US News Rankings: 10 Schools Dropped for 2022

How does inaccurate data reporting happen at schools from Alverno College to Columbia University (“In the City of New York”) to Western Illinois University (“Your Potential. Our Purpose”) happen? Simply sloppy reporting? Intentional intent to deceive?

Check the list of schools excluded this year after serious inaccuracies in data ranging from student debt levels to graduation rates to financial aid awards and more.

The details at “10 colleges, including Columbia, now kicked off 2022 U.S. News Rankings.”
Online Enrollment Competition: The St. Leo Experience

The growth of online enrollments at schools like Western Governor’s University (“The University of You”), Southern New Hampshire University, Arizona State and others has masked a harsh reality: not every school that seeks enrollment and financial gain from online students will succeed.

St. Leo University (“One of the Top-Ranked Universities in Florida”) once operated academic programs onsite at military facilities (and still operates 13 “on site” education centers in 5 states, most in Florida)­­. To maintain “non-traditional” enrollment, it was an early adopter of online programs. Online enrollment peaked at 15,000 in 2015, then fell to 6,350 in 2020. A president has resigned after just 4 years in office.

Lessons learned from the St. Leo experience at “St. Leo’s Sudden, Quiet Change at the Top.”
Merger Boosts Enrollment: Mills College at Northeastern University

As COVID disrupted colleges across the U.S., Northeastern University (“A University Like No Other”) formed a mergers and acquisition team to review M & A opportunities among private sector colleges.

Mills College, once a college only for women, was acquired in September 2021after discussions that started earlier that year. The “official” date is given at June 30, 2022. Enrollment of new “Mills College at Northeastern” freshmen for September is projected at 520, the largest ever and up from only 191 two years ago.

See how Northeastern celebrated the acquisition and the opportunity to create at “bicoastal university” at “Mills College at Northeastern University.”

Not everyone, of course, was happy about the change. See “Oakland City Council Votes to Urge Investigation Into Mills College Closure.
Does the Admissions Process Favor Men?: A Higher Ed Data Story

Trust Jon Boeckenstedt when he says that the data isn’t all that easy to interpret… and results vary from one school to another.

That said, Jon has done another masterful job of presenting IPEDS data so that all of us can read the tea leaves and make our conclusions. You can sort results by 5 categories for more than 1,400 schools: Heavy Advantage Men, Advantage Men, Even, Advantage Women, Heavy Advantage Women.

If you’re not interested in the entire U.S., you can sort results within 9 regions.

Do men have an advantage? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Find your favorite colleges and universities at “Does the admissions process favor men?”
Ethics Discarded: UC Berkeley, 2U, Southern Methodist University

While I’m sure not everyone will agree, this $4.2 million sale of student admissions data pushes ethics related to the privacy of student applicants to a new low.

UC Berkeley sold the names and contact information to 2U for applicants to a data science program who were denied admission. 2U then used the data for further recruitment to a data science program at SMU (“World Changers Shaped Here”). The Berkeley applicants were not asked to give permission for the data transfer.

More details, including the 2U recruitment letter for SMU, from Brett Herda.
Focus Groups 101: Benefits and Liabilities

Keep this Nielsen Norman Group guide handy the next time someone on your marketing team suggests focus group research. Focus groups can yield valuable qualitative results, often in advance of quantitative research, but can’t substitute for the latter.

With respect to website design, NN advises that focus groups should not be used for:

  • Evaluating a design’s usability
  • Evaluating workflows
  • Creating a list of design requirements
  • Determining a UI’s impact on emotions
  • Quantifying satisfaction or other sentiments

With these caveats in mind, check the 4 benefit points at “Focus Groups 101”.
Financial Aid: “The Single Most Important Thing to Know… “

The headline says the most important thing to know is that, compared to what most people outside higher education might think, how most colleges award financial aid is a “scam.” Many colleges, Kevin Carey writes, adjust financial aid based not on financial need but on how much they think they must discount tuition to enroll a particular student.

Ursinus College (“A Top Liberal Arts College in Pennsylvania”) opens Carey’s story. A surprised applicant received a scholarship increase based on “recently received additional information regarding your application for financial aid and, as a result, a change has been made to your original award.” Ursinus, when asked, confirmed that no additional information had been received.

Clark University (“Challenge Convention. Change Our World”) awards to the same student are part of the story.

More at “The Single Most Important Thing to Know About Financial Aid: It’s a Sham.”

Only one college that I’m aware of tells potential students and their parents that the best financial aid packages (more grants, less loans) are made to the most desired students. That’s Muhlenberg College in “The Real Deal on Financial Aid,” web content they’ve been running for at least 15 years.
Most Popular in July Newsletter: “The Innovation Funnel” Cartoon

Tom Fishburne: “As ideas run the organizational gauntlet, they can get pruned, sheared, shaped, and watered down beyond recognition.”

Laugh and weep with Tom and think about protecting your best ideas at “The Innovation Funnel
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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