Archive for the ‘Worthwhile Reading’ category

A Transformation in Higher Education?

June 8th, 2010

Is a major transformation in higher education imminent? Will more people question the value of a college degree in the new economy? Has the cost of college risen beyond what could be considered a reasonable investment for many students and families? Is it possible that higher education could be delivered through open source channels? Will the new era of growing social networks enable people to find their own paths to higher learning?

The answer is yes, according to reporter and author Anya Kamenetz.

Always on the lookout for new and different perspectives on higher education, I ran across an interview on C-SPAN that I think is notable and worthy of bringing to your attention.

In this interview with C-SPAN’s Pedro Echevarria, Kamenetz talks about her new book, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education .

Kamenetz is a Yale graduate, child of two college professors, writer for Fast Company magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post, contributor to The Huffington Post, and author of two books about higher education.

Get More Production From Your Admissions Office

December 2nd, 2009

When you think about how much revenue a college generates annually and the source of that revenue, the trail typically ends in the office of admissions. For state supported colleges, the percentage of total revenue generated through tuition may be well over 60%. For privates, it’s often 80% or more.iStock_000009277706XSmall

When I suggest that the trail of this revenue ends in the admissions office, I’m referring to the department that employs and manages the people who are responsible for generating interest among prospective students, managing the “sales” process and “closing the sale”. The aim, of course, is to match the student’s needs and preferences with the attributes of the institution: to best serve the student’s educational aspirations and personal growth. Fortunately for students, they may choose among many fine institutions that are fully capable of doing just that.

In truth, academic sales and marketing is similar to that of the B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) marketplaces. That is, generate interest, prove that the institution is a good fit, and manage the communication and human interaction process toward a successful conclusion (enrollment).

Here’s the $64,000 question: how much does an institution invest in the people and processes that are central to generating the vast majority of the revenue collected by the college? I’m not referring to things like direct mail and website development. I’m referring to people and processes –  the hiring of  the admissions team, building a motivating culture, engaging in a comprehensive training program,  implementing effective sales management, providing CRM software designed to enable sales, and enhancing communication between people and departments.

The answer? Not nearly enough. And why not, when the potential return on investment is so large and immediate?

Every institution can find its own reasons why they aren’t investing in these areas. We’ll often explore those reasons as part of our consulting engagements with clients. The most common barrier is perceived cost. But that barrier is easily removed – at little cost – with a change in perspective.

Here’s something that any institution can begin doing tomorrow that promises improved functioning and production out of the admissions department: identify the strengths of each and every member of the department, fully align their tasks with those strengths, and lead them with an understanding of how someone with their strengths is most productive.

While this may sound simple in concept, it requires a radical change in thinking on the part of many organizations. All too often, organizations work more on trying to fix a department member’s weaknesses than maximizing their strengths.

strengthsfinderbook2I highly recommend two books from Gallup Press that define this philosophy and enable you to take immediate action. The books, Strengths Finder 2.0 and the companion title, Strengths-Based Leadership give you immediate access to assessing the strengths of each member of the admissions team and, what’s more, provide direction in managing each member of the team based on their individual strengths.

I suggest purchasing the Strengths Finder 2.0 book for every member StrengthsBasedLeadershipof the team because each book contains a unique code that provides access to an online assessment that isolates and reports their top five strengths.

When we work with enrollment management departments as a part of our consulting engagements, we use a similar model to enhance productivity. You would be amazed at the results achieved when people are allowed to discover and play to their strong suits.

Likewise, in our Interactive Training Workshops for admissions offices, we see team members revitalized by the commitment that their leadership has made by investing in their future with professional training.

We see it work every day: hire the right people, put them in roles that let their strengths shine through, give them the proper tools, and structure their compensation to reflect the value they bring in terms of revenue generation and populating the institution with students who will be successful and committed to the institution long after graduation.

Bob Longmire is the President and CEO of Longmire and Company and has been helping colleges and universities across the country maximize their yield for over 20 years.

Go Ahead And Blink

September 7th, 2009

blink-by-malcolm-gladwell

Don’t call it intuition. Rather, call it a rapid cognitive response that delivers, in the blink of time, the best decision you can make, the most accurate perception of a situation, the best pathway to success.  According to author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink, the actions you take based on your most immediate thoughts and perceptions are the ones that most often serve you best and drive your best course of action.

Blink is a book that takes you on an intellectual journey. If you have a tendency to over-analyze, this book brings you back down to the firm footing of the planet Earth and your own intellectual and emotional capital. It provides reassurance that the snap judgments you make every day, on items of simple or supreme importance, can be trusted.

You’ll see this at work with prospective students with a successful campus visit. They’ll take it all in. Connect with a current student. Encounter a friendly professor. Find something in the environment that they respond to emotionally. Then, in a blink, they know they’re home. They know your institution is where they want to go to college. All of the external is internalized.

How much do colleges design their campus visits, or communications programs for that matter, around the tiny but critical stimuli that add up to awakening a student’s motivation to attend? Not enough. But they could.

Learn more about Malcolm Gladwell and his other best selling books at www.gladwell.com.