Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

July 2013 Archives

Net Price Calculator vs. Merit Scholarship Estimator

Augustana College has a strong website in many areas, including the entry page for Admissions. I used that page as a Link of the Week selection to illustrate a "top task" approach to page design that makes it more likely that potential students can more quickly do what they most want to do on a website.

From the Admissions entry page it is easy to find an often-hidden link on higher education websites: the path to the "Net Price Calculator and Scholarship Estimator" is included under "Costs." Kudos for making the NPC as visible as it is. 

Interesting Effort to Capture Personal Information

Schools are not allowed to require personal information from people using the NPC but there's no rule against that on a Merit Scholarship Calculator presented together with the NPC.

Augustana presents the Merit Scholarship Calculator first on the page as a "tool for students and families to estimate academic scholarships." Who can resist clicking on that link? When you click you'll arrive at a form that looks more like an inquiry form than a "tool" to get a scholarship estimate. We can, of course, differ on definitions.

What we can presume from the scholarship form is that Augustana has a more complex system for awarding merit scholarships than simply ACT or SAT score and high school GPA. From the list below a reasonable person might conclude that ethnicity and gender are merit scholarship factors. 

Merit Scholarship Factors?

The form asks for:
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Academic/Career Interests
  • Current high school or college
  • City and state of high school 
  • Senior year curriculum in high school
  • Special interests in debate, art, theater, and music
  • And more.
A Guide to Priority Recruitment Attention?

There's no instant return here. Complete the form and "it will be reviewed by admissions staff who will then contact you to discuss your scholarship estimate." It seems an excellent way to decide which students deserve priority recruitment attention. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Quick Merit Scholarship Estimate from NPC: $17,000

If you read more you'll also learn that the NPC does include an estimate of a merit scholarship award based only on test scores, class rank, and GPA. 

For instance, an out-of-state student in the top 10% of his or her class with an ACT composite of 28 and a GPA of 3.87 who says they will visit the Augustana campus by March of the senior year might receive a Presidential Scholarship of $17,000 and a travel award of $1,000. A small award of $500 is also possible for early FAFSA filers.

Nothing Wrong at Augustana but Muhlenberg College is More Transparent

Personally in today's marketing climate I prefer the greater transparency at another Link of the Week selection from Muhlenberg College. "The Real Deal on Financial Aid" page gets right to reality: the more the school wants you to enroll, the better combination of scholarships and loans you'll get in your financial aid package.

That's all for now.
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Conferences in November
  • November 5-7, Aarhus, Denmark: J.Bloye Web & Intranet Conference, "Writing Right for the Web" tutorial and "A Need for Speed: Responsive Design in a Mobile World." Check the entire program here.
  • November 10-13, Boston: AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. Pre-conference tutorial on "Digital Marketing Strategy: Building Brand Strength and Enrollment." Visit the Symposium website.

This week I am headed for Bonn and the marketing congress of the German Academic Exchange Service for two presentations on digital marketing strategy in the mobile era. Looking forward to making new friends and learning about marketing challenges from a new perspective. 

To preview my Bonn sessions, visit my blog at for "7 Steps to Surviving the Mobile Revolution."

In November I am taking "Writing Right for the Web" to Denmark for a tutorial at the J.Boye Web and Intranet Conference. If conferences with great networking, stimulating discussions, and fine social events interest you check the program at 

My online advertising workshop is just about ready for the eduWeb2013 conference in Boston at the end of July. If you have not yet registered review the program and register this week at 

A happy July 4 holiday weekend to everyone here in the U.S. 

And now here are your marketing news and notes for July.
New Higher Ed Rankings: Best 100 New Universities

The Times Higher Education division is out with a list of the top 100 universities that opened within the last 50 years.

Heading the list is Pohang University of Science and Technology in Korea. Eight U.S. universities are included, starting with UC Irvine in sixth place. Criteria include teaching, international outlook, research and citations.

To review the list visit 
Most and Least Expensive U.S. Colleges & Universities

The U.S. Department of Education has published the 2013 list of schools with the highest and lowest sticker prices and net cost levels in the public and private sectors. Miami University of Ohio leads public universities with a Highest Net Price of $22,210 after subtracting grants and scholarships.

Information is based on data from the 2010-2011 academic year.

To check what the public can check about your school and your competitors visit 
SEO: 12 Steps to Review for Stronger Search Results

To see if you have the most important bases covered, take a few minutes to review the 12 points from Brian Dean. Most likely you will recognize many of them, but you might also find some that are not yet receiving enough attention. Each item includes a short description. 

My favorite was Number 7, Nail Loading Speed. Do your important pages load in less than 5 seconds? 

For the full list visit 
Direct Marketing News: 27 Marketing Infographics 

Some people love infographics. Some people hate them. 

If you are in the first group, you will find something of interest as you scan the 27 infographics from DM News. Start with "Digital and TV Star as the Next Dynamic Duo" and end with "Marketers' 2013 Wish List" when you visit 
Responsive Design: 70 Beautiful Websites

Mike Abasov compiled this list of 70 RD sites from all types of organizations and included three university sites, two from the U.S. and one from the U.K.

Of course, speed counts as much as beauty. Perhaps it counts even more than beauty. The full list in 8 categories is at

Visit Mobitest at to compare the speed of your homepage on a smart phone with the schools that made this list.
Online Giving: Big Increase includes a $1 million University Gift

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reviews significant increases in online giving over the past year at a variety of non-profit organizations, including a $1 million gift to University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Check the details in "The Big Boom in Online Giving" at 
Advertising Online in 6 Seconds: Fabulous or Foolish?

Are 6 second Vine videos a foolish fad or a new statement on how well brevity works online? Can you imagine them as an effective advertising tool?

Start answering those questions by watching the 17 higher education examples collected by Educational Marketing Group at 
Bad Idea: Sliders and Carousels on Home Pages

Sliders and carousels appear on many higher education websites. For a viewpoint on why this popular design feature detracts from website effectiveness, see the blog post by Toon Lowette.

Toon, one of my Customer Carewords partners, says marketing people love them, designers adore them and customers hate them at

For the record, this marketing person has no special affection for them.
Email Subject Lines: 11 Tips from a Direct Marketing Pro

When Pat Friesen speaks, I listen. In the great long ago Pat was giving valuable advice on how to write copy that got your envelope opened. Here she is now with 11 tips on how to write subject lines that will get your email opened.

I liked Number 1 (start with verbs) and Number 9 (Use numbers like 50, not the word "fifty"). Find your own favorites when you review her words of wisdom at 
NACAC and International Student Recruitment

I have been watching the dithering about whether or not paying commissions to international recruitment agents represents another step in the decline and fall of Civilization as We Know It for the last couple of years. Universities in Australia have been doing this for a long time. They know the possible pitfalls as well as the advantages and how to manage things for best possible results. And best results are indeed possible. 

And so the recent NACAC study-group report that decided not to decide if admissions offices can use commissioned agents is silly and detracts from the value of NACAC as a decider of what is right and what is wrong in higher education admissions. 

But that is just my opinion. Read more about the deliberations and decisions at 
Most Popular Topic in June Newsletter

The link most followed was for "Higher Ed Information Request Forms Make Me Want to Die a Little."

Congrats to Jens Larson at Eastern Michigan University for a fine piece. If you missed his reviews of info forms at Harvard and Michigan State go along now to 
Conferences Presentations in 2013

July 4-5, Bonn, Germany: "Digital Marketing Strategy in Higher Education: How to Survive the Mobile Revolution," German Academic Exchange Service Marketing Congress at 

July 10-12, Chicago: "Advertising Online for Student Recruitment" pre-conference workshop and "Increasing Conversion: The Best (and Not So Best) Email Marketing Plans," ACT Enrollment Planners Conference. Workshop details are at 

July 29-31, Boston: "Advertising Online" workshop and, with David Marshall, "An Admissions First Mobile Site," eduWeb 2013. See all the sessions at 

November 10-13, Boston: "Digital Marketing Strategy: Building Brand Strength and Enrollment" tutorial at AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education at 

Plan a custom presentation on your campus. Host a workshop on any of my conference presentation topics. Contact me at or call me at 248.766.6425.
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D. 
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

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