The way students look at the world has changed. What they are looking for has changed. How the act and interact with their environment has changed. Colleges and schools have.....not changed. And they wonder why enrolling and retainingh students is getting tougher. Duh!
I have been preaching that we need to get away from old worn out admission and retention approaches. They are not helping. The market mind hs shifted and we have not kept up... and create an atmosphere that is more informal; one in which a potential student can relax yet still feel as if it can be a formal, getting business done arrangement. As I studied high school and college students to see where they seem to be comfortable yet able to do school related work. I needed to find a model that would convey to students that this is a place in which I can see myself and also create an affective bond to from my own experience. A place that feels like what I know and with which I can identify.
The answer- Starbucks or a coffee shop.
If you observe the target market for schools, these locations are where the potential enrollees go and spend large amounts of time talking with friends, reading, doing homework, tutoring or getting tutored, IM’ing, WIFI-ing and generally hanging around. It is surprising how much work, often collaborative work, is done in a Starbucks-like atmosphere.
So it became obvious that this should be the structure. Get out of the cubicles. Dump the formal desk that evokes negative affective responses. Set up a Starbucks-like zone area. Small intimate round tables (or small squares/rectangles) where potential students can sit with an admissions rep or even better, two and just talk. Create a Starbuckian-like atmosphere with colors that relax, photographs that will set a calming atmosphere and even music playing quietly in the background. Keep in mind that today’s students have grown up enveloped in music so much that it is de rigueur in all they do – even watching TV. It will not intrude. It will enhance.
Get a multi-purpose coffee machine than can make lattes, and other frou frou drinks they are used to having. They are available in numerous formats from school owned to vended and a range of costs. And use a premium grade of coffee. Potential students have grown up on Starbucks,
To those who are saying, he’s nuts, maybe I am. But to create an affective connection and increase the A-ROI, we need to connect not to our values and world but to theirs. Starbuck-like places are where they connect so bring that to them. And reap the increased enrollments as Herzing is.
By the way, also think about setting up student lounges in a similar way if retention is of any concern. These can be set up as profit centers too. Want to learn more on how to increase enrollment and revenue through changing the correlative function of your physical set-up, just call me 413.219.6939 or email me. Be glad to tell you how.