Marketing higher education to high school students and their families Essay

Marketing higher education to high school students and their families

 

Introduction

At the end of four years of high school, the students walk down to the podium with the school band playing Pomp and Circumstance.  A school administrator hands them their diploma, officially ending their time in high school.  That piece of paper declared that the students are smart enough to complete the requirements of the school, the district, and the state.  With cheers from family and friends, the students throw their caps in the air in celebration of completing this rite of passage.

As the caps land on the ground and the student exit to celebrate the end of high school a daunting question still remains: what are they to do now?  High school is a very structured place with defined standards for each student.  Much of how the high school student will go through the system is pre-determined for them with little deviation.  College often presents the first exposure to deciding a direction for the student’s life.  This can be seen by picking a major, selecting different classes and even deciding on which college to attend.

Often student find it easier to get a job than to attend college.  The system has declared them smart enough to enter the “real world” but many are still unprepared with little direction as to where to go from here.  Many are so elated to be done with four years of school, twelve if grammar and middle school are included, that they think little of their post-high school future; they are just happy to be done.

This lack of direction in life leads many down a costly path of frustration and failure.  Today’s economy in America is changing away from a manufacturing industry to a service-based industry.  This creates a demand for educated professionals and a high school diploma just is not enough.

This creates the need to promote high education to high school students.  It is extremely important that the opportunity to attend college is not missed by any student because of ignorance.  As important as educational basics such as math and reading are, so is the promotion of higher education to high school students.

This document is a map of how schools are to promote higher education to their high school students.  It will lay out a clear marketing plan for how school administrators are to promote the idea of attending college to students.  This plan is to be both direct and subtle in approach and its aim is to encompass all students at all levels so none are left out.

 

Importance of a College Education

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the median annual salary in 2005 for full time workers, ages 25-34 with a high school diploma or GED was $23,500 (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2007).  In contrast, the median annual salary in 2005 for full time workers ages 25-34 with a Bachelor’s degree or higher was $39,500 (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2007).    Statistics show that full time workers who have completed postsecondary coursework obtain higher wages and outperform their peers in the job they obtain (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2007).  Due to the shift in the job market in the United States from a manufacturing centered economy to a service and information based economy, a full time worker must obtain, at minimum, a Bachelor’s degree to remain competitive in the job market and be an asset for employers.  Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, the disparity in incomes between those with more education and those with less education has increased (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2007).  In 2005 the difference between the median annual salary for full time workers without a Bachelor’s degree compared to full time workers with a Bachelor’s degree or higher was $16,000.  In 1980 the difference between the median annual salary for full time workers without a Bachelor’s degree compared to full time workers with a Bachelor’s degree or higher was $8,000 (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2007).

The United States is experiencing an increase in the number of adults, age 18 or over, who have attended postsecondary institutions.  This increase has led to more qualified employees at entry level.  Adults who hold a two year college degree or higher are more likely to be employed than those adults who only hold a high school diploma, and they also report earning higher wages (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000).  These findings indicate that postsecondary education is a vital part of occupational success.

There is much more to college than just an education and more than just to get a better job.  Jeff McGuire stated in his report on the Important of College Education that “the reasoning does not begin and end with the job aspect” (2008).  The college life is an experience like none other and can really never be repeated as people age.  A unique bond between students can be made that often lasts a life time.  Memories of the college life in many ways define people for many years.  For many universities, there is a great deal of pride involved in the athletics.  This is not limited to just those participating in the athletic events.  Attending them and cheering on the team is often an adventure in itself.

The job opportunities and the life experiences are both valid reasons for attending college.  For those who have attended college, these benefits are well known.  However, for the high school student, much of this is left in the abyss of the unknown.  This hidden aspect makes college seem difficult, scary, or perhaps even boring.  This is why it is important to push the aspect of college on high school students.  The myths of college need to be eliminated and the benefits pushed.  It is up to the high school, and those associated with it, to give each student every opportunity to attend college.  They need to leave the student no excuse for not attending.

There are also other benefits from attending college from a societal standpoint.  A study in the United Kingdom found that college graduates are “…less depressed, healthier, more likely to vote in elections and help with their children’s education” (OUSA, 2008).  With the rising costs of healthcare, the first two benefits of college listed by this study should show people that going to college can help them save money.  With regards to voting, this study does not say it, but it can be implied that not only will the people be more likely to vote; they will put more care into their vote.  Through education, people will most likely be swayed less through cunning tactics and advertisement.  Instead their education will enable them to see through the political smoke and see the issues.  Therefore their vote will probably have more time and thought into it.

Finally, the study indicates the educated parents are more likely to help their children become educated.  This cascade effect will help promote college education in the future as more people attend college.  This means that in future generations the parents will be more willing to help push this cause onto their children.  Parental involvement is very important for students especially when deciding on college.  Having the parents involved in this cause only makes the message have more impact.

The important of college needs to be incorporated into the message.  However, it cannot be the entire message as many will simply disagree with the concept.  Although their disagreement may not be warranted it will remain unless a different tact is used to counter-act this position.  This concept of disagreement is mentioned because the benefits of college are well known and have been for some time.  With the advent and popularity of the Internet, the information of the benefits of college is more known now than they were 15 years ago.  Yet many students still do not attend college for one reason or another.  To curb this issue the pro-college campaign must be well rounded and multifaceted.  It cannot limit itself to the notion that people should attend college because it is good for them.  Many people know vegetables are good for them and still do not eat them.  This is no different than those thinking about college.  It is the goal of this marketing campaign to identify the major issues preventing students from attending college and addressing them.

 

Paying for a College Education

One concern of many students and especially parents is how to pay for college.  This represents a major hurdle in determining if and where the student goals to college.  Many parents have not set up trust funds for their children so they will have money for college.  This means the money must come from a different source, often from loans.

Even students loans present obstacles for the students and parents.  Many times the loans will not cover all the expenses and the parents are asked to take out loans for their children.  In many cases this is still not enough and the family must make hard choices as to how to pay for college.  Assuming the family has more than one child, this poses as a major financial situation for the family.

Colleges are aware of this and many recommend sending the students to junior colleges to help out with costs.  In some states the junior colleges are heavily subsidized so the costs are extremely low.  However, whether the student is considered in-state or out-of-state makes a big difference in cost.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, it costs $12,108 to attend a public, four year university for one year.  Tuition and room and board expenses have increased 30% in the past ten years, after adjustment for inflation (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2007).  Although the costs of attending a university are high, the benefits are well worth the expense.  Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to finance a college education.

During the 2003-2004 school year, 76% of all full time students attending a four year university received some type of financial aid.  The average amount received per student for the school year was $9,900.00 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005).  The most common type of grant awarded is a federal grant, and 40% of all full time students attending a four year university received a federal grant during the 2003-2004 school year.  The majority of students receiving federal grants also received money from federal student loans.  The average amount of total aid received by students receiving student loans and federal grants was $13,600.00 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005).  This amount is more than enough to cover the annual expenses incurred at a four year university based on the average cost of $12,108 per year.

Since money can be a huge concern some effort in curbing these fears must be attempted.  Gerri Wills of CNN Money has placed some helpful tips on their website to elevate some fears of paying for college (2005).  The first tip she offers is to not panic over the money.  This may be difficult to overcome but it is extremely important to do.  Her advice points out that many students pay less than $8000 in tuition per year with the rest coming from loans and grants (2005).

Her second tip is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.  Any student familiar with federal loans knows the FAFSA well.  It is the beginning of obtaining these federal loans and grants.  With the competition of the FAFSA, the student will receive the Student Aid Report (SAR) which informs them of their need.  This report is the basis of how much the federal government will help in providing loans and grants.  In many cases the universities will also use this information to determine how much it will help the student financially.  If nothing else, the FAFSA provides the starting point for finding finances for college.  Even if the student turns down the federal help it provides the framework and expectations of how other institutions will help the student out (2005).

Ms. Wills’ next advice has to do with the financial package that is offered to the student.  She writes that a lot of consideration must be put into which offers the best package.  Even if the student wants to go to a college with a financial package inferior to another school, Wills explains that although the college of choice does not have the better financial aid package, the student can bargain a better package using the package from another school as leverage (2005).

The fourth piece of advice is to find ways to make up any shortfall.  Unfortunately, these grant and loan packages may not always add up to a complete amount.  This means that it is up to the student, and his or her parents, to make up the different.  There are ways to find this extra money.  One way is scholarships.  Depending on the student’s grades and school experiences, he or she may qualify for a number of scholarships.  There are programs such as the scholarship search tool, offered by many college boards, which provide students with information on where they can find various scholarships.

In some cases the student does not qualify or does not receive enough extra funds from scholarships.  Wills explains that there are other means to finding these funds.  One place is the parents.  Up until this point the funds are being billed directly to the student.  Parents can also qualify for loans for their children specifically for college.  Parents can also take equity from their home or apply for bank loans to make up the different.

Wills’ final piece of advice is to not give up.  College is important enough to make a way to go.  It should not be seen as a debt but rather an investment (2005).  As mentioned before, it is extremely important to attend college for financial reasons even with the loans.  Students with the help of their parents need to make a way to go to college.  It is simply that important.

 

Marketing Strategy

Developing a marketing strategy for a product can be difficult.  However, developing a marketing strategy for a way of life is even more difficult.  Marketing higher education to high school students and their families goes beyond simply selling a product.  The decision to obtain a college degree determines the future of a high school student.  As can be clearly seen by the statistics published by the National Center for Education Statistics, obtaining a college degree can be very expensive but the benefits far outweigh the costs.  In order to effectively market higher education, the target market must be convinced that the benefits of higher education outweigh the substantial costs.

One particular strategy to be implemented is the concept of a pro-college culture within schools.  In particular schools with a high distribution of at-risk students will be targeted.  This focus will be made to help encourage at-risk students to attend college.  The pro-college culture is to engulf the high school students in an atmosphere that will be in contrast to the atmosphere that makes the students at-risk.

Unfortunately, because of issues at school, home and with peers many at-risk students never get the opportunity to attend college.  A study by Dr. Jill Thorngren, Ph.D. of Montana State University found that only 14% of minority students in Montana completed their bachelor’s degree (2004).  At risk students can be defined as those who are at-risk of not attempting or fail to succeed in higher education.  They tend to be within minority groups or low socio-economic status (Kaufman & Bradby, 1992; McMillan & Reed, 1994).

Promoting a pro-college culture requires addressing the three factors research has found to be important for encouraging at-risk students.  These three factors are participation in college preparation and outreach activities, parental involvement in school-related discussions, and high parental expectations (Horn, Chen, & Adelman, 1998).  By addressing these three factors, a pro-college culture can be achieved.

As one school administrator in Montana stated that the pro-college culture is “a major push of our schools, our staff, our district; that you must have training past high school to be successful” (Thorngren, 2004).  Providing students with a pro-college culture is a very proactive move on the part of the school and the district.  It is also an initiative that must be continually pursued.  Because there are so many other influences on students’ lives, it is extremely important that the pro-college culture approach is not done haphazardly.  Especially in regards to at-risk students, it is extremely important that the negative influences that plague students each day do not overcome the pro-college culture.

Another aspect of this marketing strategy is to have the colleges themselves promote higher education to the students.  This can be done in a number of ways but the more predominant is giving the student the opportunity to visit the college campus and experience it for themselves.  Since college life is so dynamic the atmosphere of a college campus can be enough motivation for some to attend that college.  Many students may feel that college is just another four years the boring time they have had in high school.  By attending the campus itself, the student can see how different college is to high school and how there is more to college than just attending class.  One school administrator stated that “if we can get them [the students] there, they will find out that college can be a positive thing” (Thorngren, 2004).

The college visit is not limited to having the students view the classrooms.  Some administrators have found that the mere act of getting the students on campus is sometime encouragement enough.  For example, the student may stay on campus to attend an athletic camp.  Through that experience he or she can get view the campus on terms more familiar to them rather than for an official campus viewing.  The experience can show the student that colleges offer far more than just classrooms.

The colleges can also promote themselves through visiting the high school campuses.  Representatives from the school can make themselves available for questions at events such as a career day, visiting various senior classrooms, or by making time in the school library for students to come by and ask questions.  This provides ample opportunity for students to ask any questions they have about the colleges.  The representatives could also make themselves available at the high school campus after hours so parents have the opportunity to ask questions about college.

Since peer influence is so powerful to high school students, school alumni visiting the high school campuses can be very influential.  Many of the students will remember the alumni when they were in high school and are able to relate at a student level.  This provides a comfortable atmosphere for the high school students to ask questions.  Some questions are different for school administrators to answer as they are sometimes related to adjusting to college.  The alumni, since their experience in adjustment is very recent, can address these concerns at the high school students’ level

 

Target Market

The target audience for this campaign is high school students and their families.  However, it is not as simple as presenting it to seniors when they are picking colleges or deciding what they want to do with their lives.  For students to successfully enter college their entire high school transcripts and the activities they participate in are import.  Most colleges have grade requirements for enrollment and many top colleges look at extracurricular activities to narrow down their prospects.

The means that to market high school students and their parents on the benefits of higher education, the marketing must begin before they start high school.  The marketing of college needs to begin in middle school so that both the parents and the students can shape their high school years with the concept of going to college when the student is done.

This is not to imply that the marketing ends once the student enters high school.  If anything, the marketing would intensify.  This would achieve two objectives.  The first objective is to keep the students motivated throughout their four years of high school.  Four years can seem like an eternity to a hormonal high school student who would rather play sports, date, and hang out with friends.  For many students who enter high school the concept of going to college is the plan upon graduation.  However, the high school life can take over and the motivation can be lost.  By continuing, even increasing the amount of marketing for higher education the motivation to continue studying may remain.  In contrast, if the marketing is abandoned, many of the students will most likely lose sight of the goal and not have the grades to go to the college of choice.

The second objective is to promote college to those students who either missed or ignored the marketing in middle school.  Many students mature throughout high school and realize that to have a better future they need high education.  Other are not paying attention to their future until graduation starts to approach.  This is why the intensity of the marketing needs to increase as the student progresses.

Another focus of the marketing must be on the parents themselves.  Although most adults understand the availability of college, the concepts of enrollment, costs and other nuances can bewilder parents.  Many may believe that college is too expensive and not realize the options available for students through loans, grants and scholarships.  By providing parents with the marketing material as well as the students, it can spurn conversations about going to college and finding ways for the student to get there.

A particular focus should be on those students who are at-risk for not attending college.  Unbeknownst to the students not attending college can be to their detriment as they attempt to enter the workforce.  Many will be rejected for a lack of education and specialized skills because they did not pursue higher education.  One obvious group of at-risk is high school drop outs.  Since almost every college requires the completion of high school, or at least a GED, it is almost guaranteed that they will not attend college.

Reasons for dropping out vary.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation produced a discussing various reasons for dropping out (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morison, 2006).  The study found that almost half of the drop outs left school because they were not interested in the material.  These students tend to hang out with other students who are not interested in school but this group also included those students with high GPAs and overall hard workers (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morison, 2006).

Another high group was those who were not motivated or inspired to try harder.  Almost 70% listed this as a reason for dropping out.  Out of that 70% two-thirds expressed that they would have tried harder if they felt the work was more challenging.  Most of them felt very confident they would have graduated had they tried (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morison, 2006).

These two groups represent those who felt school was not challenging or motivating enough to remain.  A third cited making money as a problem with a quarter listing pregnancy.  The complaint by this last group of students is the lack of support by the school.  This group also believes they could have graduated had circumstances prevented them.  However, they complain that the schools did not demand enough of them and did not provide adequate support to help them through their personal situations (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morison, 2006).

In hindsight, most of these drop outs expressed that if they could do it all over again, they would finish high school (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morison, 2006).  If they had stayed in high school their chances of going to college would greatly improve.  If nothing else, the completion of high school at least gives the student the opportunity to attend college.  This is why it is important for a higher education promotional standpoint to also address the issue of high school drop outs.  If this marketing plan can help prevent drop outs it will also succeed in promoting high education to more students.

The different promotional ideas listed here will help curb the problem with drop outs.  This is done by attempting to motivate students beyond just their daily classroom routines.  As stated before, many of the drop outs were just not motivated of challenged enough to stay in school.  By showing the students the goal of graduation it will help with motivation.  If the students can not only think of a goal but also feel it and see it, they will hopefully remain motivated even if the class work is not as challenging as they want.

This also shows the importance of continually promoting college to high school students and starting it early.  If the idea of going to college is presented only when the students are seniors, they have built up three years of boredom and discontent towards education in general.  By pushing college throughout their four years and increasing the intensity as they progress the drive to finish high school and move on to college may not be lost.

One target market that cannot be overlooked but will be more difficult to approach is home schooled students.  It is just as important that these students attend college as a regular public or private school student.  The only real difference from a marketing perspective is how to get the message to them.

One possible method is to promote the college idea through the numerous home schooling websites.  Dr. Kuni Beasley writes in Crosswalk.com different concepts that home school parents need to know to get their home school student into college (2005).  Although this method will not be easy to ensure all students are exposed it is sometimes the best that can be done.  Another method is through the state legislators.  Although it can be considered controversial, the state can mandated that all home school students spend some time reviewing college promotional material and college expos.  If nothing else, the state can recommend it without making it a law and upsetting the home school parents.

One major difference between the home school student and the public school student is the different coursework required to finish.  Although home school students must meet the same state standards as public school students, the coursework is still very different and often the teaching methods are different.  This can pose a problem when promoting college as the marketing for a public school student may clash with that of a home school student.  For the most part common sense in the specifics of how to distribute the marketing material is needed.

One major advantage of the home school student is the parental involvement is almost guaranteed.  The mere fact that the student is home schooled implies the parent is very active in the student’s education.  This level of involvement can be used to help push this marketing campaign without much effort.  Most likely if the parents are involved they want to see the best for their children’s education.  If they want the best they will know that college is the preferred method to achieving the best results.

 

Describe how you will position your products

Distribution of the materials would come from a variety of sources.  One source will be the high schools.  This is where the student spends most of their day and will be exposed to the material for four years.  Specifically, the materials distributed in the high schools would be done through the career counselors, teachers, at assemblies, and in public areas.  Essentially the materials would be given at any opportunity possible.

Career day is another distribution method for higher education.  On a career day, representatives from the area colleges (and some out of state colleges) would be available for questions and distribute material specific to that institution.  This allows students the opportunity to ask very pointed questions about college to the school administrators and get specific answers back.  As a way of encouraging student participation, career days can be mandated time set aside from classroom time to allow students to adequately go through all the colleges.

One concept that can be explored is the idea of placing high school campuses within college campuses.  This concept is known as Middle College and was conceived around three decades ago by Janet Lieberman.  This concept has also been adopted and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the name Early College High School Initiative (Lieberman, 2004).

The idea behind Middle College and Early College High School is to blend the high school experience with more of a college feel.  The aim is to get the students into a more forward thinking mode in regards to their educational future.  With regard high schools, students can quickly be mired in with the status quo of just getting by and hanging out with friends.  This system is much different and aims to prevent this status quo mentality.

By engulfing the high school student on a college campus it prepares the student mentally as to how college works.  Although high school students have to select classes and go to different classrooms, the structure is set with little deviation.  Essentially a student will have six class periods all at set times and their high school track is mostly pre-determined.  By placing the students in more of a college setting, it prepares the students for different class schedules, different class lengths, and other nuances associated with attending college.

A large focus for Middle College and Early College High School is small class sizes.  Typically only 450 students would attend this system (Lieberman, 2004).  This allows for educators and administrators to put more time and energy into each student.  It also provides the educators and administrators with college level facility and material.  This is in stark contrast to the limited or shared facilities provided by high schools.

Although this concept is new, it has produced good results.  Compared to a 70% retention rate at regular public schools, Middle College boasted 97% retention.  Of those retained, 87% graduated and 90% of the graduating students went on to college (Lieberman, 2004).  These numbers show that at a micro level, this concept works very well for promoting students to attend college.

Unfortunately, the Middle College route may not work for every district.  Not to mention students cannot wait for a major upheaval of the school system as this would take a great deal of time and money.  The idea of mentioning the Middle College and Early College High School is suggesting different routes at a micro level for parents and students.  This tool can be used for those students who need the college environment to see the benefits of college.

Part of positioning the marketing material is depending on where the student’s coursework is; specifically the difficulty level of the coursework.  Many students are unprepared for college.  The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) released a report that concluded that four out of five college freshmen were not properly prepared for their coursework (2006).  This represents a failure of high schools to adequately prepare students for college.  By undermining their ability to succeed, the schools are becoming part of the problem, not the solution for sending students to college.  For promoting college, the schools represent a massive portion of this campaign.  All the promotional materials and events in the world will not offset a poor high school education with regards to promoting college.

As a result the high schools need to adopt better standards for helping students through college.  SREB recommends that the schools and colleges collaborate on the standards and agree to adopt the standards (2005).  A pro-college spin should be applied in this collaboration so that not only does the high school material prepare the students for college, it also promotes college in its approach.  By working together to get high school students into college both the high schools and the colleges benefit.

 

Define your marketing methods

From purely a marketing perspective all marketing methods should be used to promote college.  Each method is needed because each student is uniquely different and has different motivations and other factors for attending college.  By emphasizing one particular method over another would be favoring one type of student over another to get them into college.  To some degree this idea of emphasis will be inevitable as more marketing is needed for those who seem less likely to attend college.  Consequently, each school will need to be versed in the different techniques and flexible enough to shift a promotion from one method to another.  This shift may be necessarily when it is observed that a particular method is not working or one method is working better than others.  With the unique aspect of each school and area, this flexibility must be set at a local level.

One method of promotion is through the use of advertising.  This particular method may not necessarily be used directly on the high school campus as other methods would prove more cost effective.  However, advertising is a great method outside of school.  According to TNS Media, more money is being put into advertising than before (2007).  This can be interpreted as an effective method of promoting a product or message to the public. Through market research, student interests can be found and advertisements for college can be placed around those interests.  For example, if a particular television show is very popular among high school aged students then college public service announcements can be placed during commercials.  Teen magazines may also be a good place to purchase advertisements for promoting college.

The catch with advertising is ensuring a decent return on investment.  This information may be difficult to obtain since a connection between a magazine advertisement and a student attending college may be hard to connect.  Part of the issue has to do with the all-encompassing nature of this entire campaign.  The idea is students are bombarded daily from middle school until they graduate on how they should attend college; advertising is just one aspect.  Nevertheless, advertising can be an expensive venture so some justification must be made.

Direct marketing is another method to be used in this marketing campaign.  Direct marketing involves getting material directly to the consumer without the use of another media such as a television or newspaper (Wikipedia, 2008).  This method can be very effective and annoying at the same time.  Junk mail and spam are associated to the concept of direct marketing.

For the use of promoting college direct marketing may be one of the best methods.  Direct mailers and fliers sent home with the students can bring information directly to the parents about the different aspects of attending college.  Fliers can be given to the students directly advertising different college promotional events and activities along with benefits of attending college.  Although the materials to make the direct mailers and fliers cost money, this method is cheaper and probably more effective than advertising on television or in a magazine.

Jay Conrad Levinson introduced the concept of Guerrilla marketing in 1984.  Generally speaking Guerrilla marketing is a method that uses unconventional methods to promote an idea but on a shoe-string budget.  Money is not as important as time and ingenuity (1984).  Advertisers find interesting and elaborate methods to promote a concept, usually using more than one other type of marketing methods, to attract the attention of customers.

For promoting college, this method can be used sparingly but the time commitment may be too much.  Individual instructors may use this method to illustrate a point about classroom materials and even possibly promoting college.  Nevertheless, it is too much of a time commitment to place on any one instructor or administrator especially since all the other marketing methods are being deployed.  For special purposes, this method can be used.

Positioning is an extremely important marketing method for this campaign.  Positioning involves establishing an identity or reputation of the product to the consumer; often called a brand.  Al Ries and Jack Trout introduced this concept in 1969 and described it as “an organized system for finding a window in the mind” (1969).

Positioning is important to promoting college because it can make the different of college being “cool” or “uncool” to students.  With how much peer pressure on high school students, perception becomes reality.  Positioning becomes important in that it helps set the perception high school students have on college in general.  Even the local colleges that the high schools feed into must have positive positioning or else students will be less inclined to attend those colleges.  This can cascade into the problem of if the local colleges are poorly positioned the student may not attend any where because all the other colleges are too far away.

For the idea of promoting college and all of its benefits the positioning aspect is vital.  It is also important with regards to the position in the parents’ perspective.  With how much influence the parents have on their children, the parents also must have a positive view of the college positioning or else they will not be comfortable with the idea of sending their children to college.

Public relations is the managing the outside relationship of an organization to offer a positive viewpoint of that organization (Wikipedia, 2008).  This means putting a positive spin on all aspects of the organization.  For promoting college, this is very important as the colleges need to keep a good image of it to help promote it to the students.  For this particular marketing campaign public relations deals primarily with ensuring the students view attending college as a good thing.

Although not always easy, this represents the underlying message of going to college: because it is a good thing.  Making a positive spin on attending college is not necessarily difficult given the number of benefits there are to attending.  However, campus crime, frat parties, difficult classes, etc are aspects of some colleges that should probably be downplayed.

 

Conclusion / Summary of the plan

College is too important to pass up for anyone.  Its effects on the person beyond their college years go beyond just getting a hiring paying job in the future.  Studies have found college has societal implications in that people are healthier, more confident, more likely to vote, and more likely to aid their children to get a decent education.  These are all things society wants to encourage in future generations.  A very simple form of promoting it is through the completion of a college degree.

The focus of this study was on how to accomplish this.  The benefits of attending college are very well known.  However, many people still do not attend college despite their knowledge of the benefits.  Many see other obstacles preventing them from attending.  By evaluating these other obstacles, a marketing plan can be made into an approach for promoting college.  Also, incorporated into this marketing plan are the motivators people have to attending college.  As some studies have found, motivation is a key factor for attending school.  Many see college as just an extension of high school in that it is just another school.  By addressing these motivational concerns and by using what has worked to motivate students, a well rounded marketing approach can be used.

The first concept of this marketing plan is to meeting the students where they are: at school.  Although in many ways this is already done this will only grow as the student progresses throughout high school.  In conjunction with this approach is to start promoting college in middle school as opposed to waiting until their latter years in high school.  By doing this, the marketing plan hopes to instill a goal for the middle school student of attending college and then continually help the student with achieving that goal.

As the student progresses through high school the amount of marketing for college will only increase as to help push the students to meet their goals.  It also acts as a safety net to catch those who had not thought much of college until their junior or senior years in high school.  This, however, is not at the expense of the promotion in the early years of high school and middle school.  Promotion of college will be strong even in these early years, but will become more of a focus to the students as they progress.  The concept is to make sure that the student cannot use ignorance as an excuse to not attending college.

While in high school, the schools will adapt an approach known as pro-college culture.  This all-encompassing approach will constantly push college on all high school students throughout their high school years.  It will call on the aid of the parents to continue this push at home.  Studies have found that parental involvement is a huge motivator for students to attend college.  By doing this, the student is completely surrounded in the concept of attending college.  To the student, attending college will be the natural thing to do since his or her entire school culture will be based on this concept.

Since parental involvement is so important, a significant amount of education of college must be sent to the parents.  Opportunities for the parents to address their concerns must be made as their knowledge of the college process is vital to having the student attend college.  The parents can simply not be overlooked when running this marketing campaign.  Although they are to be involved in the campaign, their involvement can only come after there are sold on the concept of sending their children to college.

Specifically, college materials and career days will be established to provide the students the opportunity to get information on specific colleges.  Although high school is primarily a learning environment, it must also be a promotional outlet for college.  This means that generic college material and information should be placed in all common student areas, such as the library, and in all classrooms.  This promotional aspect also means the school does need to devote some time for the students to exit the classroom for college related activities such as a career day or visiting college campuses.  In some cases the students would be engulfed in the college environment while attending high school through the Middle College programs.  This would most likely be only a minority of high school students but the concept would be promoted for those who would benefit well from it.

The high schools will also form partnerships with the colleges that they feed into.  This will allow them to tailor both the college promotion and the high school’s curriculum.  Although much of the curriculum is based on state standards, the high schools should be able to modify, within state guidelines, the coursework to help the high school students transition well into college.  This preparation will help the high school students with their confidence that they will be able to handle college.  Also, the colleges will be able to promote themselves on the high school campuses.  This allows the colleges to answer very specific questions about its campus and its program.  The colleges will need to allow the parents time to ask their own questions as the parents are extremely important in this marketing push.  Although it may not be convenient on the college administrators they need to be available to the parents to help make this marketing campaign successful.

One subtle promotional technique will be the use of college campuses for activities outside of high school such as athletic camps and school events.  This method of promotion is not as obvious as some of the other methods mentioned here.  This translates into less intense and on the student’s terms.  By having events on the college campuses, the students can see and feel for themselves what the campus is like.  Under normal circumstances a high school student does not have much reason for visiting a college campus, especially if they have no ambition to attend one.  By having the events on the college campuses the student is exposed to the college life without completely realizing it.

The key to this entire campaign is consistency.  Getting students into college does not happen overnight.  It takes a great deal of time and energy from a number of sources including parents, administrators, colleges, counselors, and teachers.  To incorporate many of these recommendations into the school environment some changes will have to be made and everyone from the teachers to the parents must be on board.  Each of them knows how important college is, but the time factor can wear on people.  Regardless, everyone involved must be resilient in accomplishing this goal.  Over time it will pay off and benefit all of society.
Work Cited

Beasley, K. (2008). Getting your homeschool student into college. Crosswalk.com http://www.crosswalk.com/1364600/

Berry, Leonard (1983). Relationship Marketing. American Marketing Association, Chicago, 146.  ISBN 0877571619

Bridgeland, J., Dilulio, J., & Morison, K. (2006). The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of high school dropouts.  Civic Enterprises. http://www.silentepidemic.org/pdfs/thesilentepidemic306.pdf

Foote, A. (2007) TNS media intelligence forecasts 2.6 percent increase in U.S. advertising spending for 2007. TNS Media Intelligence. http://www.tns-mi.com/news/01082007.htm

Horn, L. J., Chen, X., & Adelman, C. (1998).  Toward resiliency: At-risk students who make it to college.  Washington DC: US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

Kaufman, P. & Bradby, D. (1992). Characteristics of at-risk students in NELS:88 (NCES92-042). Washington, DC: US Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics.

Kaye, R.  (2008). Getting students ready for college and careers. Southern Regional Education Board.  http://www.sreb.org/main/Goals/Publications/06E04-Students_Ready_College_Career.pdf

Levinson, J. (1984) Guerrilla Marketing: Secrets for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company

Lieberman, J. (2004). The early college high school concept: requisites of success. Jobs of the Future. http://www.earlycolleges.org/Downloads/ECHSConcept.pdf

McGuire, J. (2008). Importance of College Education. College View. http://www.collegeview.com/importance_of_college_education.html

McMillan, J.H., & Reed, D. F. (1994). At-risk students and resiliency: Factors contributing to academic success.  Clearing House, 67, 137-140.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2000).  Vocational Education in the United States:  Toward the Year 2000.  Retrieved February 3, 2008 from: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2000/2000029.pdf

Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. (2008). Importance of higher education. http://www.ousa.on.ca/uploaded_files/pdf_files/Issue%20Briefings/issuebriefingimportanceofhighereducation.pdf

Thorngren, J., Downey, J., & Nelson, M. (2004). Promoting a pro-college culture with at-risk students: school councilors’’ perspectives. Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. http://www.jsc.montana.edu/articles/v4n11.pdf

Trout, J., (1969) “Positioning” is a game people play in today’s me-too market place, Industrial Marketing.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2007). Digest of Education Statistics, 2006 (NCES 2007–017), http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/2005163.pdf (NCES, 2005)

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2007). The Condition of Education 2007 (NCES 2007–064), Table 20-1.

Wikipedia (2008). Direct Marketing. Wikimedia Foundation, LLC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_marketing

Wikipedia (2008). Public Relations. Wikimedia Foundation, LLC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_relations

Willis, G. (2005). Paying for college.  CNN Money.com. http://money.cnn.com/2005/03/29/pf/saving/willis_tips/