The phrase gets bandied about by leaders in higher education – but is it part of your strategic plan, or just a phrase that gets lip service?
Most colleges and universities focus on high school students, but we know that the audience is soon to be smaller in numbers than it is today. And with more institutions in the market place, that means heightened competition for a shrinking audience.
Which means if you have struggled to hit your enrollments goals in the past few years, it’s going to get more challenging to succeed with fewer prospective students.
Of course, there are the “post-traditional” or “non-traditional” adult audience. They work and live in a world where lifelong learning is seen as an essential element of a successful career and personal life.
But they have identified other solution providers that they feel offer higher value and the potential return on investment.
Why isn’t your institution in the mix?
Why are so many in your geographic market you serve convinced that you don’t offer them the unique, valuable solution they want and need?
Let me ask you a question.
Do you have a strategy in place for being the provider of lifelong learning to the people in the market you serve?
And let me clarify a little further. When you recruit those high school students, do you plant the seed of lifelong learning and your institution in their brain?
Do you remind them during their four to six years enrolled at your institution in an undergraduate program that “…we are your best solution for lifelong learning…”?
When they graduate from their undergraduate program of choice, do you talk with them about post-baccalaureate or graduate programs? Do you speak with them about their unmet or underserved wants and needs?
Do you reach out to their employers and design custom solutions for developing their employees?
Are you asking those in your market about their wants and needs concerning education? Are you creating new offerings that are based on demand in your market?
Or was the last new program proposed based on the gut feeling and passion of a faculty member – without any acute understanding of the size of the audience for the program?
We talk about lifelong learning a lot in higher education. But our actions imply we really aren’t all that into it. And those actions – or should I say inactions – will lead to the extinction of many institutions.
Will you survive?