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October 23, 2010

Overthrow Traditional Admissions Culture, says College Enrollment Expert

New Book Offers Colleges a Way to Succeed in Today's Difficult Recruiting Environment.

Higher education marketer Brian Niles has published a sobering look at the challenges faced by enrollment officers and a set of solutions rooted in the overthrow of traditional admissions culture.

Universities Colleges

Success in today's changing world of student admissions means thinking and acting differently than ever before. It means overthrowing the "dead culture" that persists in most admissions offices, says TargetX CEO Brian Niles.

Feeling strongly about the need for dramatic change, he has written a book that offers a roadmap for revolutionizing higher education recruiting and marketing.

In "Overthrowing Dead Culture: A Vision to Change the World of College Recruiting," the former admissions director tells the story of how combining business basics with innovation can lead to success -- and help the college admissions culture break from the past.

Brian Niles, a leading U.S. authority on interactive recruiting in higher education, decided it was time to write the book once he realized that schools were continuing to market themselves to students and families the same way they have for decades, despite the sea change that has taken place in college admissions communications.

A popular speaker in higher education, Niles was a college recruiter and marketer before starting his own company in 1998. "At TargetX, we have spent the last 12 years helping colleges think and act differently," he says, "and this book is the natural outgrowth of that effort."

The book includes a collection of practical exercises at the end of each chapter designed to help admissions offices think about who they are, what makes them distinctive and how they can use the latest tools and techniques to attract, admit and retain best-fit students.

Universities Colleges

According to the book, a NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counseling) study demonstrates that recent demographic and economic trends have created a buyer's market for students in lieu of the seller's market that colleges have enjoyed for decades.

"But it's not just economics. In a major way, technology and communications have bypassed the way that colleges have reached out to potential students," explains the book. "In the days when glossy marketing packages arrived in their parents' mailboxes, it was colleges that called the shots; it was admissions offices that dictated how schools and students would communicate; and it was admissions offices that led students and families around by the nose, directing how applications would be handled, how finances would be covered, and how marketing campaigns would be delivered. But the Internet changed all that. As websites proliferated and technology went mobile in the form of cell phones and laptop computers with WiFi access, gradually it was the students who started setting the terms."

"Consider Digital Equipment Corp., the industry leader in mid-range computers in the early 1990s," the book points out. "The company isn't around today for one good reason--it didn't foresee the ascent of the personal computer. 'There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home,' said Ken Olson, president, chairman, and founder of Digital in 1977."

Universities Colleges

"There's a price to pay when you resist change," the book warns. "And it's a big one for college leaders who preside over archaic admissions cultures that don't connect with twenty-first century students and families." "Make no mistake, these are the lean times, not only for American families but for colleges and universities, too. Public universities have their own financial problems. The amount of public funding such schools receive from their respective states is in decline."

"Hundreds of universities across the U.S. have put building projects on hold, closed classes, fired staff, frozen salaries and scaled back benefits," the book quotes a source. "Harvard, for example, eliminated 275 jobs this year in addition to halting construction in Allston. Yale reduced staff salaries and other non-personnel costs by 12.5 percent and froze several hundred job vacancies. Princeton, which chose to skip a transfer of funds from its endowment to its operating budget last spring, convinced 145 staff members to take early retirement as part of a two-year, $170 million (13 percent) budget cut and is now facing further staff reductions. Stanford has laid off 412 staff members, and 60 more people will lose their jobs by the end of the year."

The book informs that due to the huge endowment losses suffered by colleges and universities, and the subsequent decline in donations from alumni, who were also adversely impacted by the global recession, schools were forced to do the unthinkable -- issue bonds to raise much-needed cash.

Universities Colleges

"Harvard was first, floating $1.5 billion in taxable bonds last December, joined early this year by Princeton and Stanford, which each issued $1 billion in bonds," the book quotes 'Institutional Investor'. "By the time most students had gone home for summer break, Brown University, the University of Chicago, Cornell University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University and Vanderbilt University had followed suit, issuing anywhere from $100 million to $500 million in bonds."

Universities Colleges

• According to the book, there is no doubt that colleges are caught between two eras. Behind them are decades of traditions and tenets that have historically served colleges well in their search for new students to share the unique experience that each campus offers. In front of them is the second decade of the twenty-first century, which poses challenges in the form of a troubled economy and new modes of communication that schools have failed -- or are at least reluctant -- to master.

In conclusion, the book "Overthrowing Dead Culture" is relevant to colleges and universities facing a new age of admissions. It tells that institutions are using an outdated model that no longer works in recruiting today's prospective student and that the colleges must overthrow their own dead culture in order to thrive in a new economy and meet the needs of a new generation of students and parents.

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 4:53 AM | Link to this Post

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