January 20, 2018

Understanding why for-profits are growing

Understanding why for-profits are growing

All student interests and motivations are not at all the same, you need to understand their motivations to understand the market.  You need to not think about yourself here as you are NOT the typical student growing to these schools.  We are talking demographics, ethnicity’s, socioeconomic differences and growing population trends.  For many of us the decision to go to college was a big one.  We spent a lot of time and effort thinking about where to go, the advantages of each school and what would be the best opportunity for us.  We went and visited many of the schools, we looked at the academia, the campus life and the fit for us at those schools.  The question was not should we go to college, but rather which college should we go to… this was a massive decision and we treated it as such. 

Well, that’s not the case for the vast majority of the students who enroll in the for-profit schools.  They for the most part are simply viewing the decision as I need to get a degree, and I don’t have the luxury of stopping everything else in my life for 4 years in order to get it.  I need to get a degree to get a job and start my career.  I can’t make any money without a degree, so how do I get my degree.  I also want it local and flexible (or online) so my life doesn’t have to stop while I am doing it. They search online or maybe see a TV commercial, they call or fill out a lead form (requesting information) and then they get “the call”.  The call is when a trained admissions rep (in other industries they are called sales reps.) calls them ASAP.  The faster they get them on the phone, the better their odds of bringing in the student.  They establish a rapport, they build the case for why the prospective student MUST move forward to change their life for the better and they go for the enrollment.  Most prospects don’t shop around, and once they have established a relationship with a school they move forward with that school, rarely will they return calls from the other schools they may have requested info from.  They rarely step back and say…okay I need to stop here for a moment and look at what else is out there.  They instead plow ahead and move through the process including financial aid and ultimately start school.  It’s a means to an end decision, and often a degree is a degree is a degree type of thinking. 

Therefore, as the population continues to shift to an increasing percentage of the population of the non-traditional means to an ends thinking student from the traditional college selection is a huge decision for me student for-profits will continue to grow.  Their models are aggressive, fine tuned marketing & enrolment machines, yet they provide the solution to what a growing population is looking for.   A college degree and/ or career training in an environment filled with like minded students whose goal is to get a degree as soon as they can so they can join the workforce.  Without the pomp and circumstance of traditional academia, without the huge sprawling campus, the sports teams, the fraternities, and the need to stop everything else in their life (for years) in order to obtain their education/degree.