Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

September 2013 Archives

The opening of new semesters just before and after Labor Day is always a special time on every campus. May you all enjoy that energizing spirit as far into the fall as possible.

The premier marketing conference in higher education is coming soon in November: the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. Plan now to register this month. And plan to include my Sunday afternoon tutorial on Digital Marketing Strategy. Conference details are 

How can a college without a national reputation make the front page of the Wall Street Journal? St. John Fisher College was the featured school as an early adopter of the College Learning Assessment tool to measure what graduating seniors have learned while earning their degree. Does visibility like this herald future use of the CLA as a rankings criterion? See my new blog post

And now here are your marketing news and notes for September.
U.S. News Changes Ranking Criteria for 2014 Report

In just a few days U.S. News will publish the 2014 rankings report. But first the publication is alerting us to changes in how schools are rated. Some of the changes: class rank falls as SAT and ACT scores increase; reputation rating falls, and graduation rate increases in weight.

U.S. News says that many school rankings will change from 2013 as a result.

More on the changes and the reasons behind them at
Back from the Dead: New Version of Gainful Employment Rules

The Department of Education has issued for review a revised approach to "gainful employment" rules and the for-profit sector is not happy.

Inside Higher Ed describes the new rules as "leaner and meaner" and gives details 

Make a visit even if you do not work for a for-profit school. Paying close attention to any serious discussion about outcomes in today's climate is a wise marketing move.
Infographic: Tech Changes for 2013 and Beyond

Smart phones, tablets, laptops and a host of other devices change at a rapid pace. That is not new news. 

To see just how rapidly and what is anticipated for the immediate future, check the new infographic on Exciting New Gadgets in 2013, complete with prices, at
Elite Colleges: "Signs of Fiscal Stress"

Over the past 18 months, Moody's has decreased the credit worthiness of highly regarded colleges it considers too dependent on tuition as the primary revenue stream. Downgrades include Oberlin, Haverford, Morehouse, and Wellesley colleges. Oberlin is the most recent, having borrowed $15 million this summer with plans to borrow another $17 million soon.

Moody's notes that most schools it reviews are not receiving lower ratings, a sign of strength. As before, liberal arts colleges with limited program offerings to generate revenue are deemed most at risk. 

More on the Moody's approach and the challenges it poses at
Iowa State Adds Online Course Components for Campus Students

Rather than a world of only online courses, the more likely scenario for traditional age students is unfolding at ISU, where the number of residential students taking courses that mix online and in class formats is growing rapidly.

I do not often recommend reading news releases but to see in detail how a major public university is moving forward to adapt to a new era, see 
Do You Agree? Wall Street Borrowing Helps Drive Tuition Increases

Two Ph.D. candidates are out with a paper that will not help higher education public relations. Their proposition is simple: a key driver of public university tuition increases the past few years has been the need for funds to pay interest on money borrowed to increase auxiliary facilities on campus. 

That is a position not usually heard amid cries against less legislative funding for the public sector. Indeed, if the argument gains traction it could result in closer scrutiny of facilities plans and how money is raised for them. 

If you work in the public sector, see if your university fits the model outlined at 
5 Tips for Effective Email on Mobile

How many people are trying to read your email on a smartphone? And is that on an Apple or an Android phone? Check the 5 tips from Celine Neulat and see if there is anything you can add to make your email more effective.

My favorite was an old one always worth repeating: do not make people squint to read. More
Financial Aid Stats in Detail: Average Amounts in Every Category

Here, on a single easy to scan page, you will find average financial aid award amounts in about every category you can think of for graduate and undergraduate students.

About 30 percent of both graduate and undergraduate students used no financial aid at all.

To compare your school with overall use rates, See Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2011-2012 at
News Releases on Websites: Do You Really Need Them?

If you are at all concerned about clutter on your public home page that keeps people from getting as quickly as possible to the top tasks that brought them to your website, read "Do company websites need a news section?"

Toon Lowette is my Carewords partner in Belgium. Toon notes that while exceptions exist, in most cases news releases on public facing sites are read by few visitors, contribute to poor search results, and slow top task completion. 

See if you agree after you visit
Most Popular Topic in August Newsletter: 6 Marketing Notes from eduWeb2013

For the first time, the most popular item in the newsletter was one of my own blog posts: See notes on responsive design, a president who masters social media, retargeting advertising and more 
New Conference Presentations in 2013

November 5-7, Arhus, Denmark: "Writing Right for the Web" tutorial and "A Need for Speed: Responsive Design in a Mobile World" at J.Boye Web and Intranet Conference. Details 

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.

Bob Johnson
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