CCCULos Angeles Workshop New Perspectives on the Research Findings December 6-7, 2001
Goals of the Workshop • Summarize highlights of the research • Organize for implementation within similar functions and across campus teams • Develop short-, mid-, and long-term strategies for executing recommendations
Timing for Admissions Marketing • Prospective students are beginning the search process earlier, many before the junior year in high school. • Parents are starting even earlier.
Use of Information Sources • Personal contacts and printed materials are the most popular sources of information. • The campus visit is the most powerful recruitment tool at all stages of the search. • Parents are more influential in the college search than typically seen in the college-bound student marketplace.
Parents’ Influence in Choice of College/University (2000) (Very Influential) (Not at All Influential)
Use of Information Sources • Most prospective students are using the Web at all levels of the college search. • Students think of email and chat rooms as “personal” communications.
2000 and 1986 Comparisons • The CCCU colleges and universities are somewhat more visible in 2000 than they were in 1986. • The overall image of the CCCU colleges and universities has improved slightly in academic quality. • Quality-of-life issues emerged as the most positive feature of the CCCU schools in 1986 and in 2000.
Familiarity with Christian Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities (1986 vs. 2000) (Totally Familiar) (Not at All Familiar)
“Big Picture” Image Issues • Students have a narrower and less positive view than their parents of a Christian educational experience. • Christian-related issues affect prospective students’ decisions throughout the admissions funnel.
Market’s Definition of a Christian College or University • The first word or phrase that comes to mind when prospective students hear “Christian colleges and universities”: • “Religion” (5%) • “Christian environment” (5%) • “Christian faith” (4%) • “Church” (4%)
“Big Picture” Image Issues • The concept of the liberal arts is not well-understood by the CCCU market. • Top negatives focus on concerns about small size and a sheltered, protected environment.
Academic Quality Image Issues • Prospective students and their parents think about specific majors and future outcomes when they measure academic quality. • Prospective students tend to assume the CCCU colleges and universities lack academic rigor and intellectual freedom. • An all-Christian faculty is less appealing to prospective students than to their parents.
Student Life Image Issues • Prospective students have a “siloed” image of student life on Christian campuses. • Prospective students are becoming increasingly interested in: • Personal growth • Development of moral character • Community service
Student Life Image Issues • Impressions of social life become more influential at the enrollment decision stage. • Understanding of the integration of faith and living as well as faith and learning evolves; it is not immediately grasped by prospective students.
Financial Issues • Prospective students tend to think about “sticker price;” parents about net cost. • Perceptions of value are closely linked to academic quality, preparation for the future, and character development. • Parents want evidence of the marketability of the degree and personal growth.
Competitive Positioning Issues • Among prospects, top competitors tend to be public universities. • Among inquirers, there is a shift toward private universities. • Among accepted students, they hone in on Christian colleges and universities.
Competitive Positioning Issues • Comparative CCCU assets are: • Spiritual growth and spiritual character of fellow students • Academic quality of students • Overall quality of education • Academic reputation • Preparation for careers
Competitive Positioning Issues • Comparative CCCU liabilities are: • Cost • Recreational opportunities
Competitive Positioning Issues • Prospect to inquirer conversions are stimulated by positive impressions of: • Opportunities for spiritual growth • Spiritual characteristics of fellow students
Competitive Positioning Issues • Inquirer to accepted student conversions are stimulated by positive impressions of: • Overall quality of education • Social life • Cost was the only feature of Christian colleges and universities that was not perceived more positively by matriculants.
Impact of 9/11 • Students versus parents • “Wait and see” attitude • Recession, family losses, financial aid initiatives • Direct mail • Travel (distance and mode of travel) • College visits • College choices closer to home • Geographic setting of campus • Access to a city • East versus West Coast
Impact of 9/11 • Academic interests • Public service • Cyber-terrorism • Middle Eastern studies • Search for meaning • Emerging questions • Financial aid policies if parent loses job • Campus evacuation plans • Health facilities/nearest hospitals • Safety and security policies
Hallmark Themes for the CCCU • Academic Quality: A high-quality education in a secular world. • Christian-centered Community: A close-knit, Christian community that emphasizes character development and spiritual growth. • Future Orientation: Preparation for life as well as a living. • Financial Investment: The value proposition.
Academic Quality • Theme: A high-quality education in a secular world. • Introduces the Christian focus • Positions against public and private secular competitors • Acknowledges concerns about invasion of voiceless/faceless world • Can convey freedom of intellectual inquiry • Sets foundation for integration of faith and learning
Christian-centered Community • Theme: A close-knit, Christian community that emphasizes character development and spiritual growth. • Highlights character development • Distinguishes spiritual growth opportunities • Enhances appreciation for value • Develops understanding of integration of faith and living
Future Orientation • Theme: Preparation for life as well as a living. • Addresses interest in careers • Advances concept of development of whole person • Provides foundation for moral and spiritual lifestyle • Raises the bar for definition of success
Financial Investment • Theme: The value proposition. • Create a succinct statement • Fold in essential elements of first three hallmark statements • Write to parent audience • Connect to cost discussions at all times
Short-term Strategies:Admissions Marketing • Begin direct marketing efforts to prospective students early. • Build communications flows based on the first point of contact, not the calendar. • Develop a parent communications plan. • Offer a service orientation to early inquirers. • Anticipate the composition of the competition set at each stage of the admissions funnel in developing strategic communications.
Short-term Strategies:Admissions Marketing • Be bold in defining the uniqueness of the Christian experience, but use “cascading” language. • Monitor the effectiveness of on-campus visits at all stages of the recruitment cycle. • Increase emphasis on all dimensions of the social experience, especially at the acceptance stage.
Institutional Response to 9/11 • Increase emphasis on messages about: • Development of spiritual, moral character • Special funds for family financial crises • Institutional response plans for any future attacks • Improve Web sites immediately as campus visit surrogate and as pipeline to admissions and financial aid processes • Replace mail with email • Reconsider policies re: cars for freshmen • Increase personalization of communication with families • Focus on flexibility and rapid responses to families
Short-term Strategies:Communications/PR • Use the hallmark themes from the research to develop a distinctive institutional identity. • Prepare a signature statement that both captures the institutional identity and supports the CCCU organization. • Develop a definition of academic quality that best describes the institution.
Short-term Strategies:Communications/PR • Create a distinctive, multi-dimensional description of student life at the institution. • Write a value proposition that augments the signature statement.
Mid-term Strategies:Admissions Marketing • Collect tangible examples of academic quality from the community: • Challenge • Student, faculty, and alumni achievements • Positive changes in student profiles • Emphasize faculty commitment to the development of the whole person. • Present evidence of quality and faculty commitment at all stages of the recruitment cycle.
Mid-term Strategies:Admissions Marketing • Demonstrate how students get “real world” experiences while still enrolled. • Illustrate ways that students work together in Christian and community service activities.
Mid-term Strategies:Admissions Marketing • Collect tangible evidence of outcomes. • Talk about value in terms of investment in preparation for future careers, character development, and preparation for leading responsible and fulfilling lives. • Advance families’ understanding of net cost. • Bring new technological systems to the financial aid process.
Mid-term Strategies:Communications/PR • Adapt the CCCU hallmark themes to develop institutional communications that apply to all key stakeholder audiences. • Choose a consistent institutional “look” to be used for all constituencies. • Use the CCCU logo to add visibility to the organization.
Mid-term Strategies:Communications/PR • Develop messages describing Christian fellowship on campus and its impact on all aspects of student life. • Align personal growth with spiritual development to distinguish the Christian environment.
Long-term Strategies:Admissions Marketing • Develop awareness among prospective students and their parents of the larger community of Christian colleges and universities. • Continue to develop electronic recruitment vehicles and strategies. • Seek compatible organizations for hyperlinking opportunities.
Long-term Strategies:Communications/PR • Strengthen the bond between the CCCU and the institution for coordinated promotion of a Christian education. • Increase the public’s perception of the overall value of a Christian education. • List long-term, value-added benefits • Link social life and social responsibility
Short-term Strategies:Campus Team Activities • Develop student and faculty profiles to be used for various outreach activities. • Advantages of Christian faculty • Portrayal of whole person (students and faculty) • Develop a unique description of the intimacy and the atmosphere of the campus community.
Mid-term Strategies:Campus Team Activities • Begin re-allocating resources toward the Web and other electronic communications. • Make careful decisions about which print media should be continued. • Build a depth-and-breadth Web site for admissions marketing and for key audiences.
Long-term Strategies:Campus Team Activities • Create a distinctive set of messages for campus-wide communication of the institution’s approach to the liberal arts. • Develop an ongoing institutional strategy for communicating the concepts of: • Faith and learning • Faith and living