Archive for June, 2014

Discovery Leads To Launch of National Higher Education Enrollment Study

June 18th, 2014

WELL KNOWN FACT: A student’s excitement about attending a specific college is influential in their decision to enroll. NOT SO WELL KNOWN FACT: The student’s excitement about attending is more strongly correlated to likelihood of enrollment (by a factor of two!) than the institution’s cost or the student’s perception of the quality of the institution. This is consistent with human nature. People need facts but they buy on emotion.

Student Light BulbThe magnitude of the influence of excitement on the enrollment decision was revealed in Longmire and Company’s most recent national co-sponsored study entitled, “Your Value Proposition: How Students and Parents Form Their Value Perceptions and Select Colleges.” Nearly 40 colleges participated in the study. It yielded new insights on many fronts, to be sure, but one of the most startling was just how strongly excitement becomes the driving force in the selection process. It’s pivotal. And it’s so often born in a specific moment in time.

After Longmire and Company released the Value Proposition Study report, we decided to investigate this X-factor of excitement further. We conducted focus groups on college campuses. We were able to meet with college freshmen to explore, in depth, how their college selection decision developed over time and up to the point of making their rational and emotional commitment to their college of choice.

In each focus group we arrived at the central question, “Now, can you tell us when and how you knew this was the right college for you.” That’s when things got even more interesting.

That simple question sparked a higher energy to the discussion. You could see it in the students’ faces, body language and tone of voice. They got more animated. Their descriptions were more detailed. Highly detailed! They remembered the exact moment. They could remember where they were. Who was around them. The weather that day. Even what they were wearing. They related their moment of decision in vivid detail. They remembered exactly how they felt. And that was the precise moment that all other colleges lost their shot.

You can likely remember a moment at which you made a life-changing decision and how you felt at the time. I can. Maybe you share a similar experience to the one I’ll describe.

My wife and I were looking to buy a house. We had told the real estate agent about all of the attributes we wanted: the number of bedrooms, size of the yard, the neighborhood, nearby schools, and so on. Facts. Attributes. Characteristics. She proceeded to show us 15 houses that met those criteria. We visited each and every house (ugh!). And then, this one house, sitting on a cul-de-sac, grabbed our attention as soon as we pulled up in front of it. My wife and I sat in the back seat as the agent got out of the car. We were quietly staring at this house. I felt an immediate attraction to it. So did my wife. We didn’t say anything.

The agent led us to the front door, opened it, and let us walk in first. I stopped in the foyer, looked around, and immediately knew that this was going to be our new home. My wife had the same reaction. “This is it,” I said. “This is what we’ve been looking for.” (This probably killed our chances of getting a good deal.)

I remember that experience as though it were yesterday. That house had attributes similar to all of the others we had looked at. But there was something special that drew us in.

The same is true for students in making their college selection. There is something beyond facts and attributes that hits them like a train. It’s emotion. Excitement! It tells them that they have found their college. And it can occur at any time or place.

Our newest co-sponsored study, called “The Excitement Factor!” is going to isolate when, where and how that happens with prospective students in their college selection process. We will uncover patterns, information, and insight to help colleges better understand how to put students in the environments and with the people who will create the level of excitement that will cause the student to feel that they belong there.

ExclamationCo-sponsoring institutions of this study will receive information specific to their institution. A report aggregating all the data collected for the study will be released nationally later this year. If you have an interest in becoming a co-sponsor and uncovering information about how excitement is – or is not – being generated among your prospective students we invite you download a prospectus that provides detailed information on the “Excitement Factor!” study. You can download it by clicking here.

If you wish to download results from our previous studies, please do so by clicking here.