If your campus is like all the rest – there’s a drive from leadership to increase revenue. The conversations are probably at some point in the following cycle that admissions leaders know so well:
Stage one: just grow enrollment
Whether it’s a new President, the board, the cabinet, or someone else, there’s a belief that surely, we should have more students than we do. Solve that problem, you’ll solve any budget challenges before you.
Stage two: just grow the recruiting budget
Eventually, admissions leaders help the “just grow enrollment” voices see that there are market forces at work, and that indeed, the institution has been doing the right things to recruit students. Certainly not perfectly, there’s always room for improvement, but in most cases, unless the bottom has dropped out, it will be on the margins.
Stage three: just grow net revenue
The dreaded, “we’re the best kept secret” perspective strikes again. At this stage, someone looks at the following equation:
students x net revenue per student = total revenue
and has a eureka moment – if we just pick a different number for net revenue per student number, all of our financial challenges will be a thing of the past.
While that is technically true, it ignores one harsh reality – almost all of us are either optimized already, or real close to it. Not perfect, to be sure, but for colleges across the country, improvements in net tuition revenue is usually going to be marginal or fleeting.
Yet, we keep running through the cycle above. We get to the end, experience a change in leadership, and start back at the beginning.
One of the biggest reasons is that it’s a discussion we know. Non-enrollment people can understand the concepts and math pretty easily (although not the nuance), and it gives everyone a starting point for a discussion.
But here’s the thing – the solution to our enrollment challenges is not here. As I discussed a couple of months ago with my post, “There Is No Enrollment Problem” – we won’t solve our enrollment challenges with discounting dollars or more search names.
Instead, we need to reinvent and invest in yield.
Join me on July 25 at 4:00 pm eastern when I’ll walk through how that transformation is happening right now – bringing together data science, machine learning, and gamification theory, colleges and universities across the country are breaking out of this cycle.