No one is surprised anymore to hear that colleges need to change a lot of things about the way they do business. Brandon Busteed is a specialist on this very topic and has hit upon a change that few people might have considered to be high on the list of changes that college should make.
Colleges do an incredible job of marketing themselves to starry-eyed students. The enormous amounts of data that is crunched and purchased by colleges can pinpoint students from specific schools, neighborhoods, income brackets race and ethnicity that allow colleges to target certain groups of students who are most likely to respond when contacted. The image of a Cheetah running down an Impala comes to mind… But what if colleges used all this money and information to give the student something helpful that would result in identifying their best fit college?
Instead of spending an increasing number of dollars for more and more data, what if the college let the student sample what they have to offer? Some of this has been done in the past with campus visits but the pandemic closed the tap on most of that type of travel. Also, only a small percentage of students were able visit all the campuses on their lists if they were not near their homes. This idea involves providing prospective students with a variety of engaging short courses. These online courses could serve as an initial test drive in order to sample the brand. Institutions that claim to be superior to others of their peers would need to produce a superior short course to prove their claim. It would also give little-known campuses that do an excellent job in targeted majors an even playing field on which to compete with colleges that are household names. This shift in marketing strategy has the potential to outstrip all the glossy brochures and targeted mail-outs that regularly clog our postal system.
Students gravitate to things they like and social media is the behemoth by which they communicate. An outstanding short course would grab the attention of students interested in that subject by simply being one of the best. Trending algorithms would then deliver those courses into mainstream news feeds. This idea appears to be a win-win for colleges and students. I hope the colleges are listening.