With the howl and cry about impending regulations, past hurts, and overwhelming burdens set upon proprietary schools, I say enough is enough; it’s time to prepare. Title IV funding could end, the well could run dry, and it could be abrupt. It is prudent for proprietary schools to plan for Title IV to diminish or expect to get hammered in some fashion in the next two to three years. In my view, schools should explore alternatives to Title IV funding-trough before it is too late.
There are ways to get the regulators off your back by securing alternative funding pools. But, there is another strategy that can decrease your school’s need to secure alternate funding sources (such as you local Savings and Loan).
Here’s the strategy: Make your program offerings world-class.
World-Class Does Not Mean Big Bets And Is Accessible To All Schools
My friend Geoff is a realtor. For years he has been in the top ten percent for commissions earned. I asked him how he managed to accomplish this feat, year in, and year out. You see Geoff, while smart is a quiet, unassuming guy. He’s not winning you over with a powerful personality.
He said it is simple; he focuses on doing everything only one to three percent better than his competition. It hardly matters which tiny initiatives he takes, as long as he is always asking the question: “What can I do to provide my clients at least one percent more value — in all aspects of my work — than every other realtor in my area?”
What Small Steps Can I Take To Move My Program Offerings Closer To World-Class?
So, to Geoff’s point, build the agenda of every managerial meeting at your school around that central question. Hunt for small, low-risk ways your school can move toward world-class. This is the force multiplier that will most effectively raise the level of excellence at your school.
This ongoing incremental action will create distance between your school and your competition. Persistence in making tiny improvements to your school moves you closer to world-class. As a byproduct of this effort, like a batting average in baseball, you’ll position your school, instructors, services, programs, and graduates ahead of everyone else.
Stay in this question: “How can our school progress toward world-class, much like Tesla or Apple?”
The benefits of doing so are profound.
- Each incremental move your school makes toward offering superior programs creates distance between you and the pressures from Title IV regulators, State Attorney Generals, ‘I Hate Proprietary Schools’ PACs, etc. They have more trouble attacking top-shelf.
- Become world-class in the classroom, and graduation rates will increase.
- Offer world-class grad support, and placement rates will increase.
- Win over employers with your exceptional graduates, and they will help you improve program delivery and encourage students to stay in school, improving grad rates.
Improve your Admissions process by providing meaningful and transparent guidance to prospective students, whether they attend your school or not, and you’ll create deep connections that drive your Cost Per Sit down.
- A lower Cost Per Sit should lead to lower marketing lead generation costs.
- With your improved retained earnings, your school can develop more programs, offer scholarships, and create continuing EDU programs. Through those efforts, you should see both student referrals and connections with employers improve.
As you can see, incremental efforts toward ‘world-class’ can generate tremendous returns for your school. It may sound overwhelming, but Geoff’s example proves that even the smallest steps toward that goal help to position you ahead of the competition. Your ongoing, incremental efforts to answer that fundamental question compound to differentiate you from your competition and create distance from the gripes and grasp of regulators.
How can my school incrementally move toward world-class? Sit with that now.
Tom King’s Story: A Trade School’s Ascension Toward World-Class
Before taking his leadership role at Enrollment Resources, Tom King had a similar role at a trade school. He continuously stayed in the question: “How do I move my school toward world-class?” Under his tenure, he quadrupled enrollment. I asked him to note a few things he did in pursuit of that goal. Here they are for your reading enjoyment.
1. We partnered with many recognizable industry names to enhance the educational experience of the students. We had names like Matco Tools, Eaton, Edelbrock, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Harley Davidson, and many others. We named training areas after these partners, which created incredible marketing opportunities. We received amazing amounts of product donations, training aids, and curriculum, all of which enhanced the student learning experience. The relationships set the college apart from all other similar schools that could not boast the sheer volume and quality of our industry partners in education. Also, many of our partners also donated thousands of dollars in scholarships, which were great for both student financial assistance and marketing opportunities.
2. We held numerous open houses and on-campus events. We required every student to visit the campus before their start date. Since we had so many great industry partners, the facility was second to none for training aids, equipment, and aesthetics. The facility sold itself. When a prospective or new student visited, their experience was always so incredible and exciting. They always left feeling energized and with a solid desire to attend.
3. We created numerous ‘roadshow’ and outreach events at a scale not seen in education. We didn’t simply want to attend a show. We wanted to BE the show! We brought the whole works on the road, including vehicles, equipment, speakers, demo artists, and more to high schools, industry trade shows, and community events. The goal was to be bigger, and more entertaining than everyone else, all while showcasing our unique specialization programs to the masses. Most often, we also worked deals with every show to provide demos and talks — a great show — to help organizers increase attendance.