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35% of Prospect Student’s Can’t Do This ONE Thing

EDU Research Reveals Surprising Barrier to Enrollment

Dream Big.” “Reach for the Stars.” “If you believe it, you can achieve it.” These types of sayings feel omnipresent in career counseling offices, right up there with the frazzled kitten precariously dangled from a tree branch whose soft face and dark saucer eyes implore onlookers with the caption “hang in there.”

Kitten hangs from tree branch

Where did every guidance counselor get this poster?

Most people hear these platitudes about goal setting their whole lives, but far fewer are given the tools to follow through. What does it actually look like, in a practical sense, to pursue your goals? 

Enrollment Resources recently published findings from extensive EDU market research that included data from over 250,000 prospective career education students across North America and a surprising finding stood out:

When asked about goals for the future, 35.62% of prospective students surveyed selected the response “I want a better life for sure, I just have trouble imagining the details.”

How Thoughtful Admissions Practices Can Help Prospects Clarify Goals & Remove a Hidden Barrier to Enrollment

The application of practical goal setting is something many people are never taught. Those of us in EDU, especially those at private career colleges, are in a unique position to help prospective students break down the practical steps that can help them build a brighter future. A student may inquire about a particular program or know that they need some sort of professional skills in order to get ahead, but it’s not uncommon for them to struggle to imagine details beyond that. That’s where you come in.

Below are three steps to keep in mind when you help prospective students to imagine their potential future. 

#1. Break it Down: Practical, Achievable Steps
The gap from initial inquiry to new career can seem gargantuan when you don’t know the steps. It would be like trying to drive from L.A. to NYC without a road map, just two distant points with no clues of how to get from one to the other. If you had infinite time and resources that mapless road trip might be fun, but that’s not the case for our prospective students. As an Admissions professional, you can fill in that road map.

Much smaller than the gap between where a student is when they inquire and where they want to ultimately end up in their career is the gap between speaking with you and speaking with Financial Aid or other staff. That’s a manageable first step. What’s the next step in your enrollment process? And the step after that?

When you break down the enrollment, school and employment pursuit process into simple steps, you help prospective students gain an accessible road map to their future.

#2. Get Clarity: The Power of Specificity
Specifics take “pie in the sky” dreams and ground them in reality. It’s the difference between “I want a new car” and “I want a gently used 2012 Mazda3.” “I want to get married” and “I want to marry my best friend’s husband Todd.” Perhaps more relevant to our situation, it’s the difference between “I’d like to help people” and “I want to work as a patient care aide at the long-term care facility near my house.”

Thoughtful questions like “what motivated you to reach out today?” and “what makes you interested in this field?” not only help you get to know the prospect you’re speaking with, they help you to understand the prospect’s drive. This forms the foundation for the portrait of the prospect’s future you’re helping to build.

#3: Explain Potential Challenges
Have you ever hit the gym hard on January 1st only to fall off your “New Year New You” exercise regime weeks later? (No. Me Either :P). Often when we get off track from long-term goals it’s due to a failure to address potential challenges that may arise. Sometimes even just the fear of getting off track is enough to derail us.

As humans, we are motivated not only by achievement but by the anticipation of achievement. When you address potential obstacles, and help prospective students to visualize the ways they have within their means to overcome those difficulties, you go a long way to illustrating the way in which successful graduation and the pursuit of a rewarding career is within the prospects’ abilities to accomplish; this can provide incredible motivation.

TIP: Remember to Meet Prospects Where They Are
As an Admissions professional, it’s vital to remember what it was like to NOT know all the ins and outs of your school and things like education financing. Work from a place of empathy and remember that many prospects will be learning about career education for the first time.

In this role, you are uniquely qualified to provide clarity for prospective students about your school and their future. When you utilize goal-setting techniques you can help students to practically envision the steps along the way to their desired future and remove a sizable barrier to potential enrollment.

Want to see more from this in-depth research? Access the Hidden Motivations of Prospective Students report here.

Gregg Meiklejohn Retires; Shane Sparks to Serve as President & CEO 

VICTORIA, British Columbia –  Enrollment Resources Inc. announced today that Gregg Meiklejohn has retired from his role as CEO.

Gregg Meiklejohn co-founded Enrollment Resources with Shane Sparks in 2003. 

Over the past 19 years, the company has emerged as a leading marketing innovator in the Career Education sector.

“Gregg’s knowledge of marketing and the post-secondary education sector has helped guide our growing business. We will miss his leadership and insights. It’s been a terrific journey these past 19 years and we all wish him and his family the best in his retirement,” said Sparks.

Shane Sparks takes over as President & CEO, and sole owner.

“I am very excited about 2022,” says Sparks. “We have a number of new features in Virtual Adviser we will be releasing starting in January and plan to focus more on proprietary research in the coming year. Our goal remains to help schools grow enrollment in the most cost-effective way possible.” 

In January, the company will also be releasing new research on the motivations of prospective students culled from over 500,000 survey results.

“Our focus is on uncovering insights that make a meaningful difference to student recruitment,” says Sparks. “We can’t wait to share what we’ve discovered.”

How A/B Testing Failures Reveal Bigger Opportunities

Failing Forward: Unlock Hidden Insights

As marketers we are always pushing to grow, break new ground, and stay ahead of our competition. We may test a new advertising approach, a different angle on a value proposition, build channel partnerships, or realign our marketing for performance and growth.

An area perhaps less explored is when bright ideas fail to live up to expectations. Testing is a science but mostly it’s trial and error where breakthroughs come by being curious around the why-of-things, especially when results flop.

Understanding your prospects at their level and being able to communicate to their needs and aspirations is the foundation of all great breakthroughs

In a recent landing page test for Google Ads, we started to notice some common trends for expensive to market programs that had commonality among competition. Most schools were running these programs, Google search advertising was expensive and cost per leads were higher than we wanted for our clients. We were having some breakthrough success across other program landing page tests, improving conversion rates by 30% on average, so we adopted a similar approach to what we’ve called our “problem programs.” Think teenage angst.

Pages were built with a new design, rewritten, and expectations were high. To our surprise and disappointment, the tests dropped performance and increased cost per lead so we stopped the test to protect ROI.

You can go two ways with a situation like this:

  1. Determine that the control is the better version and carry on to a new test
  2. Question why performance went in the opposite direction we wanted

In many ways, conversion rate optimization analysts will forgo the failure and move on to something new. The tendency is to seek the win, which is great, but often that win or insight can be hidden in the failure.

We tend to lean in on curiosity.

Since Virtual Advisor encapsulates the stories behind a prospects’ journey, we started to dig into the data we had on those programs. We also questioned if the program value proposition wasn’t aligned with where the prospect was in their journey.

Were they already invested in the career? Were they just starting their research? Why are they inquiring now? To help answer these questions, we decided to use our form technology to trigger a seamless survey on a second step form. We then combined that data with Virtual Advisor’s quantitative and qualitative data on these programs and started to uncover some blind spots in our copywriting.

In most instances, our prospects had been thinking about the career for some time, in many cases years. The pandemic has been an interesting catalyst for many folks looking to explore a different path in their lives. The knowledge that the career path is not new to them and they have done their research prompted us to reframe how we spoke to them in our copy.

We’re currently on iteration #3 for this test and will likely have results in the new year but the point is not necessarily about the end result in this case. It got our wheels turning around leveraging our form technology and aligning Virtual Advisor user data to improve your school’s conversion rates in other ways we hadn’t thought of before exploring why our tests had failed.

Understanding your prospects at their level and being able to communicate to their needs and aspirations is the foundation of all great breakthroughs.

Any insights you can attain to further your understanding and have more meaningful conversations, online and offline, is a recipe for great things. Combine that with seamless technology to foster a supportive user experience, it begins to get really interesting.

This will be one of the sessions at our 3rd Enrollment Builder Best-Practice Virtual Conference – we would love to see you there!

Tweaking Tiny Processes in Your Enrollment Management Funnel

In this video, Gregg Meiklejohn and Sterling Simpson will demonstrate how tweaking a couple tiny processes in your Enrollment Management Funnel can make significant improvements to your school’s bottom line. They will take you through how our fictional “Gregg’s Beauty School” tweaked a couple of tiny processes and blew results out of the water.

See:

  • How improving the internet contact rate by 5% can improve the Enrollment Revenue of a small Cosmetology School by $53,000 a month.
  • How improving the ‘Show Rate” by 5% can increase monthly revenue by $41,000 a month
  • And much more…

Watch this walkthrough, then go press the link and run some scenario planning for yourself!

To do your own Lost Revenue Finder click here!

AI-generated transcript here

Lead Generation Best-Practices for Schools: How Many Leads Does a School Really Need?

Research has shown that an admission person only needs 60-80 leads per month max. Everything after that represents diminishing returns. The enrollment rate goes down, leads are poorly worked or ignored, and enrollments flat line. Basically you reach the mental capacity limits for your Admission people.

So to figure out your lead goal, just multiply admissions people x 60: If you have 3 admissions people, you need is 180 leads per month, which is usually totally achievable through your own efforts.

You most likely DO NOT need to buy 3rd party leads to increase student enrollment.

Now, the flip side of this, is that you are more likely to have an Admissions capacity issue and not a lead issue. Most of the schools we have analyzed are under-resourced in Admissions, and that’s the real bottleneck for them.

It’s understandable: Generating more higher education leads is easier and cheaper than hiring, training, managing Admissions people.

A client story comes to mind: They were buying a ton of garbage 3rd party leads for years, hundreds of them per month. They switched to a self-generated education lead generation campaign with us, and volume dropped 60% or more. They were understandably anxious. But within a month, enrollment increased as lead quality vastly improved, and the staff had the time and mind space to succeed.