Over the course of the past several years, we have had several requests to complete market research regarding enrollment. Certainly, the downward spiking of the economy over the last five years has prompted such requests, as independent schools and private colleges seek to ascertain enrollment viability from their service areas. Often, we call these studies enrollment feasibility programs, and deliver them within the course of completing a strategic marketing project.
Is it possible to understand the viability and sustainability of enrollment for a given private school or college? We believe that it is possible as long as a very specific methodology is followed. We believe there are three critical data points to complete a successful enrollment feasibility study. They include:
1) A clear understanding of the current mission appropriate audiences at the school or college, as well as their decision set and information sources which influenced their enrollment. This often includes a sophisticated market segmentation analysis of current audiences.
2) A clear picture of the service area around the institution, it's competitor environment, and the market segmentation and demographic projections within that service area. This allows the school to examine different market segments, total capacity in the service area and system for enrollment, yielding proper penetration rates and projections for the school or college.
3) A clear understanding of marketing communications program – as well as strategic enrollment management function - of the organization. This helps us understand to what extent these functions of been leveraged to bring about enrollment sustainability.
When analyzed collectively, these three components give us a solid picture of the viability and sustainability of enrollments, opportunities for growth, and projections for the future. The challenge, as with most research projects, is gathering the right data and having access to the right tools. Because we do similar processes on a regular basis, we have a very clear understanding of the methodology and access to the right data and research inputs, giving us clear picture for a school or college with which we serve.