Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dehne Visit Notes

We had a visit from consultant George Dehne of GDA Integrated Services today. A lot of what he said resonated with our retention research that led to the Plan 9 project. Specifically, he said that first-second year attrition is generally a sales problem, and after that it's programs. A small rural liberal arts college has three strikes against it, according to Dehne, because the so-called Millenial student is looking for an urban experience (lots to do), doesn't care much about size, and doesn't understand what liberal arts is (maybe it involves crayons?). To underscore the second point, he said that their research tells them that 65% of applicants don't know how big the institution is that they're applying to. But generally, preferences for size have grown from an ideal of 2500 ten years ago to about 6500 now.

One of their specialties is finding a distinctive element (big idea) around which to rally marketing and delivery of the educational product. The big idea is the project of brainstorming, involvement with the institution, and market research. I think we're capable of doing most of the first two parts, but aren't in a position to do our own market research. Part of the idea there is to cast a large net and find out what part of the college-bound pool isn't applying to our institution. Maybe we're missing part of our ideal market. The other part is to test out these
"big ideas" before adopting one, to make sure it really works.

One interesting idea that worked at another school was re-branding the core requirements as a major--every student has two majors (they value majors, and don't value 'general education', being the hypothesis). Another interesting idea was having first year seminars on topics like The culture and history of football.

No comments:

Post a Comment