Higher Ed Marketing as a Gainful Employment Resource By : Richard McCulloch

Higher Ed Marketing as a Gainful Employment Resource

As we all know, the only thing consistent in life is change; and adapting your approach and assets to meet and exceed new goals are the first steps in navigating change. 
Higher Ed institutions directly affected by the July 1st implementation of Gainful Employment regulations have a lot to consider and address in order to remain compliant and Title IV eligible. In addition to the variety of daily operational issues that have to be managed in order to effectively run these institutions, administrators must also dedicate appropriate assets and resources to ensure the achievement of Gainful Employment benchmarks.

Optimizing Debt to Earning ratios as well as minimizing Program Cohort Default Rates (pCDR’s) represent a new era of regulatory priorities affecting most for-profit programs and certificate programs at private non-profit and public institutions. Though many of these institutions utilize an outsourced or in-house marketing resource for the recruitment of students, there is an opportunity to redeploy some of these marketing resources to support institutional efforts in meeting and exceeding Gainful Employment outcome thresholds. Just as enrollment-focused marketing is a proactive tool for student recruitment, outcome-focused marketing can be a proactive tool used to facilitate career placement and default management efforts.

Here are just a few examples of how marketing assets can be redeployed to facilitate your institution’s compliance with Gainful Employment:

Website Enhancements: Your website is a key platform for engagement and digital interaction. We often see them as an information gateway to educate prospective students about institutional profiles, programs, and policies. What if your website was enhanced to better engage potential employers as employment partners, while also providing increased awareness about campus resources available to assist graduates with loan repayment options and default mitigation? Evidencing a commitment to student outcomes and providing a platform to improve those outcomes can be greatly facilitated by strategic enhancements to your site.

Creative print and digital content: Bill Gates once stated “Content is King.” When it comes to Higher Ed marketing, the King now needs to appeal to a different group of subjects. In Higher Ed marketing, we have traditionally formulated content with a focused “call to action” encouraging prospective students to fill out inquiry and other data capture forms. Today’s Higher Ed landscape requires print and digital content that also spurs action from employers and graduates. Utilizing a Social Media platform, such as an alumni page on Facebook, represents an opportunity to create and deliver content that informs, connects and engages graduates long after they leave your physical facility or online program.

Call Center Support: Even in the largest institutions, resources are finite. In private institutions especially, revenue generating efforts along with educational support are the main priorities to which in-house assets are usually dedicated. With Gainful Employment regulations focused on graduates and how they fare in terms of income and loan repayments, staying connected with recent graduates and reconnecting with past graduates needs to be a priority. The larger the institution, the more graduates need to be serviced. This is where scaling of resources becomes an important tool for enhancing institutional outcomes. Outsourcing batches of graduate contact information to a properly trained Call Center will increase your institutional reach without levying additional stress on your in-house resources. Having Call Center agents transfer unplaced graduates or those on the brink of student loan delinquency to your campus professionals will provide supplemental opportunities to help these graduates maximize their educational investment and avoid financial hardships.

With Gainful Employment as a barometer for measuring institutional performance, adapting resources already in play for student recruitment is a strategy that can provide measureable results while preserving internal assets.

While I don’t think any of these recommendations are necessarily groundbreaking, there is a certain advantage that we have within our group of Higher Ed marketing companies. With our company leadership comprised of former school owners and campus administrators, student outcomes such as those addressed through Gainful Employment are not new focus areas and benchmarks for us. Cultivating and sharing best practices with our colleagues in Higher Education will hopefully provide a benefit to these institutions and the students that are served by them.

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