Posts Tagged ‘cost of college’

Focus Group Reveals Hidden Influences in College Selection

July 13th, 2016

Our national higher education co-sponsored studies always yield new market intelligence that contribute to a college’s ability to grow and control enrollment. I think our newly-launched study will be the most important one to-date. I’m going to tell you why but first let me state the obvious.

Dean_Libutti_QuotationWe know that prospective students don’t always tell us what they really think. Sometimes they don’t want to be completely honest because they think they’ll hurt our feelings. Or, they really just don’t care that much about us even though they tell us they do.

To explore the roots of this reality Longmire and Company has launched our latest co-sponsored study: Hidden Influences: Revealing the unspoken perceptions that prospective students have about your college and why it matters in your ability to grow and control enrollment.”

This study is going to dive deeply into uncovering the things students hold back from colleges during the college shopping process and, more importantly, the findings will provide colleges with strategies and methods to uncover hidden influences and deal with them before the student solidifies his or her enrollment decision.

If you’re thinking this looks like an admitted student survey, let me assure you it’s not. This study will delve into the psychology of the decision-making process and it’s going to influence the conversations and communication that colleges will have with prospective students in the future.

So, why am I confident this new study is going to be a groundbreaker?

I got a taste of what we will learn after conducting a series of focus groups with college-bound students who will enroll this fall (we often use qualitative research prior to developing the survey instrument used in the quantitative portion of the study).

The focus groups proved to be particularly eye-opening and enlightening. We explored the facts, emotions, intentions and perceptions that students will and will not share with colleges during the recruiting cycle. We explored why students withhold information and we tested methods by which colleges can draw out and deal with these hidden influences on a student-by-student basis. These are the topics that the Hidden Influences study will explore in-depth.

The focus groups revealed, for example, how students deflect the real reasons for not enrolling by attaching them to issues of high cost or lack of aid offered when, in fact, their enrollment decision was based on something entirely different. In those cases, the unsuspecting college is left to think their tuition and financial aid packages are not competitive when, in fact, it had nothing to do with the student’s final decision.

During our focus group sessions students told us that colleges often overlook or don’t ask the types of questions that will provide a true picture of the student’s interest or attraction to the college. Students also said that colleges may ask a lot of questions but they don’t ask the right questions that will reveal the perceptions that will ultimately impact their enrollment decision. These are among the topics we’ll explore deeply in the study.

The Hidden Influences study will provide co-sponsors with actionable data and insight to help them uncover and manage the perceptions and opinions prospective students have about their Hidden_Influences_Prospectuscollege.

You should consider jumping on board this new study as a co-sponsor. That way, you’ll be able to get data and insight on what students are withholding about your college and, more importantly, learn how you can deal with it in the future.

There is a long list of colleges across the country that regularly participate in Longmire and Company co-sponsored studies. They do so because they gain new insights about their prospective students and they make changes to their recruiting and communications as a result.

Getting involved in the Hidden Influences study is easy, low-cost, and provides valuable deliverables. There is still time for you to get on board and be among a growing list of public and private colleges nationwide that will benefit from this information. I encourage you to download a PDF that will give you all the information you need.

For more information or to reserve your participation in this study, contact Rick Montgomery (913) 492-1265, ext. 708 or  by email at or me at (913) 492-1265, ext. 709, Colleges are signing up now so we encourage you to contact us soon if you are thinking about participating. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE INFORMATION.

We help colleges with their recruiting efforts every day. If we can help you please call or shoot me an email. Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company and the tools we have to offer, click here. Be sure to subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

 RHL_Photo_100x100Bob Longmire is President of Longmire and Company, Inc. He is a recognized expert on the topic of how prospective students and parents form their college selection decisions – and how colleges can use that knowledge to grow and control their enrollment. He can be reached at (913) 492-1265, ext 709 or at Connect with Bob at Linkedin/in/boblongmire.

3 Things Prospective Students (and their parents) Want You to Know!

September 1st, 2015

Over the next few months you will have many conversations with prospective students and their parents. What better time to offer you some insights we’ve collected from tens of thousands of 3 things boystudents and their parents who have shared their thoughts, feelings and viewpoints on the college selection process with us through our national higher education co-sponsored studies?

Here’s what they want you to know:

“I’ll be judging your service delivery from the first interaction.”

You know that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. In our national co-sponsored study, “Pre-Enrollment Service: How customer service delivery during the recruiting cycle influences enrollmentwe found that over 53% of students and parents say the pre-enrollment service they receive from a college influences their selection decision.

They also say that service is one of the best ways to differentiate one college from another. The fact is: Prospective students and parents view the pre-enrollment service they receive as predictive of how the student will be served after enrollment. They will avoid colleges that exhibit bad service during the “college shopping” process.

Colleges and universities that score the highest in pre-enrollment service are those that view prospective students and their parents as important customers. They typically engage every person on campus in a customer service plan with clear and actionable instructions and objectives. Most importantly, they express to each person how key their role is, and offer specific ways they can help the institution provide the best possible customer service.

“Make me feel wanted!”

In our most recent nationally co-sponsored study, “The Excitement Factor! we asked 13,000 college-bound students if the colleges they were considering had taken a personal interest in them at any point in the recruiting process. The response was shocking. Two-thirds said “No” or “Don’t Remember” and in our view “Don’t remember” is the same as “No.”

Student excitement about a college is enhanced when they perceive that the college has taken a sincere personal interest in them. As a practical matter, the more personal interest you take in a student the more you will find out about his or her unique combination of interests, preferences, desires, anxieties, and aspirations. With that greater understanding you will naturally communicate a unique value proposition. The student will perceive you as unique among their available choices. You will have reached the coveted state of differentiation. With 36% to 42% of students in the public and private pools, respectively, saying that this was influential in their college selection, it underscores the opportunity for colleges to impact enrollment by demonstrating a personal interest in students across every brand touch point of the institution.

“It’s easy for me to see cost. You have to help me understand value.”

Yes, cost is a factor, an important one, in the college decision process.  But it may not be the driving force you have assumed it is. Actually, less than 27% of the students in our Value Proposition study considered cost to be the overriding factor in their ultimate college selection.

Just what exactly are prospective students considering when they check out your college? In spite of what the media tells us, students are making their college selection decisions based less on outcomes four or five years down the line and more on what they will experience immediately when they step on campus. Job placement after graduation, for example, ranks fifth on the list of things most important to students and parents in selecting a college. It ranks behind academic quality, availability of specific programs and majors, cost of attending, and their feelings about the campus and students.

Only about one-quarter of students indicate that salary after graduation plays an “extremely important” role in their college selection decision. This attitude is pervasive among all students, regardless of intended course of study.

Granted, cost and outcomes may be more top of mind for parents. However, both parents and students agree: the student has substantially more influence on college selection.

If you are looking for a way to distinguish your college from others, take note: Engaging in a detailed and highly personal discussion of value will set you apart. Again, value has many more components than just cost! Shockingly, only 2 in 10 students and parents say that the college they most seriously considered addressed how it plans to maximize the value received over the course of the student’s time there.Maximize_Value

The lesson here: More explicit discussions of value and value expectation should take place between prospective students, parents and the colleges they are considering. Admission counselors, financial aid staff, and even faculty should have conversations with students and parents regarding the value they desire and expect to get from the colleges they are considering.

The road to graduation is long and has many twists and turns and it all begins with the college shopping process that students are navigating right now. Your challenge is to remain fully and continually connected with them in order to provide the highest level of personal service in all areas that will influence their realization of the full value your college provides.

We are helping colleges with their recruiting efforts every day. If I can help you please call or shoot me an email. Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here. Be sure to Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

RickMontgomery_100x100Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at

Yield Enhancement Series: The Final Push – Find Your Unique Selling Proposition

March 11th, 2015

[This is Part 3 of the Yield Enhancement Series: The Final Push, offering actionable and effective strategies for the closing weeks of the yield season.]

Admissions teams across the country are in the midst of their most exciting, and yes, most stressful, time of year. Every communication you have with a prospective student right now could be the ONE that seals the deal.

No pressure, right? Consider this your review before the final exam. Here are a few key insights (backed by extensive research) that will help you frame the conversations you are having with the students in your admit pool in a more compelling way and help you win more enrollments.Yield-Enhancement-Series

First, get rid of assumptions. “I am going to cross Brandon off my list because he made it clear that he couldn’t afford us unless he got more financial aid,” or “Jessica’s mother told me that she wants her daughter to commit to XYZ University because we are just too costly.”

Not so fast. Before you give up on Brandon and Jessica consider this: As important as the issue of cost is in the college decision process, it may not be the driving force you have assumed it is. Actually, less than 27% of the students in our current “Excitement Factor” study (with over 13,000 participants) considered cost to be the overriding factor in their ultimate college selection.

Plus, 70% of students and parents told us they would reconsider a college they originally thought to be too expensive if it can demonstrate greater value. (See our report Your Value Proposition: How prospective students and parents perceive value and select colleges.)

We know with certainty, through our research and providing counselor training workshops on college campuses across the country, that Brandon and Jessica (and every other student in your pool who has expressed cost sensitivity) represent an opportunity for you to demonstrate your school’s unique value proposition. But first you have to define it. From the perspective of the student and parent. Not yours!

I am willing to bet that you can list 20-plus outstanding attributes about your college right now. Reasons why someone should come to your school. If so, good job.

The problem is: the students and parents you are talking to are hearing the exact same thing from every other college they are considering. That is the bitter truth!

To differentiate your college you must pinpoint the attributes that are unique to your school.differentiate-yourself-from-the-crowd It’s not just what you have in the way of programs, facilities and people. It’s what your institution believes in. It’s the type of students your institution attracts. It’s the type of experience you offer that is unavailable anywhere else.

Try this exercise. It will bring focus to your ability to distinguish your institution from all others. Make a list of all of the things you say about your college and all of the reasons you think a student would find your school attractive. Now, look at each item on your list and ask yourself, “Are my prospective students hearing the same thing from any other college?” Be brutally honest.

If you think other colleges are likely to be saying the same thing that you’re saying about yourself, then cross it off your list. At the end of the exercise count how many items you have left.

We frequently do this exercise in our Interactive Counselor Training Workshops on college campuses all over the country. I can tell you that, in most cases, the big list of “reasons why to attend” gets whittled down to nothing. Then, we challenge the counselors to identify the beliefs, culture and characteristics that are genuinely special about their school.

By forcing yourself to go through this very introspective process you will have discovered what truly makes you exceptional among the many choices available to prospective students.

I guarantee that in many ways your college is truly distinctive. Identifying those attributes allows you to have focused and engaging conversations with the students in your pool.

At this stage of the cycle, every conversation should include a highly-personalized discussion of the value you provide, matching your college’s unique attributes to what is most interesting and exciting to that student. This is your opportunity to demonstrate how your value delivery outweighs your cost.

We help colleges and universities with their recruiting efforts every day, especially now during yield season. If I can help you, please let me know.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo.   For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here. Be sure to Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information

RickMontgomery_100x100Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at


An Unexpected Paradigm Shift

March 5th, 2014


Talk about a surprise. We had just concluded data collection and were beginning the analysis on Longmire and Company’s latest national co-sponsored study. This one dealt with “the value proposition” and examined how prospective students and parents form their value perceptions and select colleges in the current economy. In the study, we were interested in quantifying the value that students and parents attach to higher education in general and, more specifically, to the colleges they were most seriously considering for Fall 2013.

Based on the rising cost of higher education, the increasing frequency of media reports on the topic, and the discussions of industry insiders, we expected the data to show that a paradigm shift had indeed taken place and that “outcomes” would be revealed as a primary driver of college selection. Not so.

The data revealed that students and parents are selecting colleges in much the same way as they have in the past. They are most concerned about what life will be like when they step on campus on the first day of the first semester. At that point, they are much less concerned about what their life will look like four, five, or six years down the road. In truth, many students enter college having no clue about what to study. And among those who do a sizable percentage will change majors at least once during their time in college. The study revealed that less than one-third of students enrolling in the Fall of 2013 said that the expectation of salary after graduation played an extremely important role in their college selection decision.

So, what do students and parents value most when selecting a college? The study did a deep dive on this. It’s critical to recognize from the outset that the determination of value is highly personal. A commonly held belief founded on much research and testing suggests that people arrive at a perception of value through a mix of three components: the perception of the quality of the product or service, the cost to own it and its return, and the excitement about having and using it. The weight of each component is inherently equal and changed only when put through the blender of the human decision-making process. Taken together, these three components add up to a total value perception. We believe this process of value perception formation and decision-making applies perfectly to higher education.

A thorough analysis of the data from this study (over 7,400 responses were collected nationwide) shows that an overall value perception score has a strong positive correlation to likelihood of enrollment. So does each component by itself. That’s not shocking. What we found most interesting is that the student’s excitement about attending the college is much more strongly correlated to likelihood of enrollment (by a factor of two) than is cost or perceived quality of the institution.

The study found that approximately 70% of parents and students bound for four-year colleges say they would reconsider a college that they initially believed to be too expensive if it could demonstrate greater value. When asked to specify in their own words the added value that would be required to mitigate the additional cost, most suggested added values that had nothing to do with money.

No doubt, the cost of higher education has risen dramatically for more than a decade. It seems logical that colleges would attempt to soften the public and political criticism by more effectively communicating value delivery. Unfortunately, this is not happening. Most importantly, it is not happening in the conversations between colleges and the students they are attempting to recruit. Only about 20% of students and parents recall having any conversation in which the college they were most seriously considering explicitly addressed how the college planned to maximize their time and investment as a student there. Just one-half of students and parents indicated that they were “very confident” that the money they will spend the first year of college will be worth it.

We will address the findings and implications from this national study of value and value perception in upcoming blog posts.

Report-Cover-Value-Proposition-Study_170x170To download “The Value Proposition” report or copies of our previous national co-sponsored studies, click here.