Archive for March, 2013

Survey Sheds Light on Cost/Value Question

March 25th, 2013

The high cost of attaining a diploma has been publicly bemoaned by students and parents, and has even become a national legislative issue recently as Congress debates student debt. So it may come as a surprise to learn that students and parents who believe that cost will be the driving force in their college selection decision will often dip deeper in their pocketbooks to pay for a college they deem more ‘valuable’.

We’ve surveyed thousands of students and asked the question in this way: “How likely is it that you would reconsider a college you initially believed to be too expensive if it could demonstrate greater value?”

On average, 75-80% of students responded that they would in fact consider a more expensive school if it could demonstrate greater value. Even among those students who claimed the top factor in choosing a college was the lowest price, over one in ten said that they would be likely to reconsider a college on the basis of greater value. These findings suggest that even though cost is an important factor, price alone can be overridden by other factors if the school can present their value proposition in a compelling enough manner. Whereas a prospect might originally reject a school based on price, there is still a window of opportunity to change their mind and convert them with a strong set of value statements.

This is good news for colleges and universities hoping to win over cost-focused students and parents, but the onus is on these institutions to present a persuasive case that appeals to the prospect’s perceptions of value. When asked to specify which factors would offset the additional cost of college, the leading answer was better job prospects and placement upon graduation. No surprise here considering the stagnant job market. Timely graduation (i.e. earning a degree in 4 years rather than 5 or 6) was another recurrent factor. Other factors named included campus life, greater prestige, and personal attention, to name a few.

You truly have access to a pool of prospects that you may have considered previously unattainable. It’s your challenge to isolate the added values your institution offers, and communicate that message relentlessly. Showcase robust job placement numbers and graduation rates if you have them. If your campus has a thriving and energetic student life and a wealth of activities, make it known. While there are many mediums to spread your value proposition, your website should be the first place to start. Scan your site and count how many times “job placement”, “graduation rates” or other key phrases appear throughout the site. You can easily do this by typing a keyword or phrase, followed by “site:” in a Google search box. For a more thorough analysis, you can purchase a program called InSite4 from, which will count and monitor keyword use. Pay attention to how prominent or buried these keywords are in your site. Ideally, keywords reinforcing your value should be front and center and heavily promoted throughout your site.

The takeaway: Don’t give up on students who say that cost will be the sole criterion in their college selection decision. If you can prove that your institution is worth the extra investment, they may be willing to reconsider.

In late March 2013, Longmire and Company will launch a national co-sponsored study called “The Value Proposition” to deeply explore the issue of how students and parents perceive value, and how their value perceptions influence college selection. To obtain information about becoming a co-sponsor and obtaining survey response data that is specific to your institution visit our Contact Us page.

To view copies of our previous national co-sponsored studies, click here.