Feb 4, 2013

Delaying the Decision

Economic trends and forces have always had an important impact on consumer
choice. Historically, though, the education industry has been viewed as somewhat
recession-proof, specifically at the higher education level. When the economy goes
South, more people go back to school to gain important skills, retooling for a new
career or the next big move. When compared to other industries, this has made the
education sector seemingly more stable, and often even robust, during difficult
economic times.

Over the course of the past several years, particularly since the economic downturn
beginning in 2008, we are witnessing an interesting trend. It would appear that many
private school or college consumers are opting to delay the decision to enroll. Call it
a new trend, or an increase in an existing trend, but consumer behavior in some
areas and regions appear to be delaying the early stages of enrollment. What does
this look like?

At the higher education level, a prospective freshman might decide to enroll in the
first two years of higher education at a community college, saving residence fees
and boarding costs, then transfer to small private college for the junior year when
the major classes kick in. Simultaneously, they are able to work part or full time, pay
relatively low tuition, and get the most value for their hard-earned or saved dollar.
And, they still receive the degree and the transcript from the respected, small
private college.

At the independent school level, families ultimately oriented to sending their child to
a respected day school in their local community may continue to enroll them in the
local elementary school or even home schooling options. This saves tens of
thousands of dollars in tuition in the lower or even middle school grades, where the
curriculum is not transcripted for college and the benefits are less tangible. This
allows the family to save money, prepare for the transition, and make certain that
their careers and socioeconomic outlook are more optimistic. They ultimately enroll
in the upper school program at the local day school, gaining all the college placement
and scholarship benefits from this transcripted prep experience, minus the tens of
thousands of dollars of lower or middle school.

As educators, we know the value of the residential college experience for a first year
student. We believe in the power of early childhood development. But, we may have
a tough bargain to strike with families whose economic certainty is clouded and when
funds are tight. I’m not sure it is a new trend, or an escalation of an ongoing
consumer behavior, My guess is that is the latter. Regardless, as educational delivery
becomes more diverse and ubiquitous, this is not a trend that I believe is going away
all too soon. 

No Comments

  1. Gilmar Soares on July 21, 2023 at 8:51 pm

    Thankss for posting this

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