True or False: A College Degree is Worth the Investment?

The College Graduate

The College Graduate (Photo credit: lesliebyk)

The main difference between obtaining a college degree today and in the 90s is the comparative cost of higher education as well as the amount of debt students take on to finance their degrees. So, while not being able to find a job immediately after graduation might have been tolerable in the 90s, today it can mean severe financial suffering.  I can tell you from personal experience that my mother was less than pleased when I told her I was going to become a flight attendant after graduation. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she said, “So…you’re telling me that I paid for you to go to a private school, out-of-state, and now you want to do something that doesn’t even require you to have a high school diploma?”

We constantly hear reports about how bad the current job market is for recent college graduates. And much to my mother’s chagrin, back in 2011, I was no exception to these reports. You hear it from political officials. You hear it from journalists. And, most unfortunately, you hear it from all those 20-somethings who are now lugging around back-breaking loads of student debt: College degrees are simply not worth what they used to be. But, is that really true?

Recent data suggest that a college diploma is still valuable on the job front and, in the long run, you’re much safer with a degree than without one. Although it took me a while to realize the return on my investment, it has finally paid off as I recently joined the TWG Plus team. The road is still rocky, particularly in the short term. But, don’t lose sight of the fact that a college education still tends to pay off in the long run.


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Never a Snow Day for Admissions Folks!


SNOW DAY! (Photo credit: klmarkert)

When I was a kid, no two words could excite me on a cold winter morning more than “snow day.” Just thinking about it now brings to mind visions of hot cocoa, snow forts, and plastic sleds speeding down a hill at the local park.

Sadly, those associations changed when I was a Director of Admission. Suddenly, snow days meant stockpiled mail, unanswered phone calls, and applications going unread. I’d find myself staring at the snowflakes falling outside my window thinking, “Doesn’t Old Man Winter know that it’s our busy season?”

For many of us around the country, winter weather is a variable we can’t predict, but need to contend with. Snow season hits right when the applications are flying in, decision letters are flying out, and communication with students and their families is most vital. As a Director or Dean, what can you do about it? Do what you always do: PLAN!

Plan ahead – Don’t wait until winter is upon you to set up your communication flow to inquiries, applicants, or accepted students. If an impending storm has you panicked about that reminder email you kept meaning to have sent out, you might want to rethink your communication strategy. During the winter, you should have 3 strong, well-planned communication plans in place, automated, and ready to go. Your office should be like the U.S. Postal Service. Rain, snow, sleet, and other crazy weather should not stop you from reaching out to your students.

Leverage technology – Although most Admission offices are paperless to some extent and utilize CRM systems daily, many hesitate to promote telecommuting as a standard practice. If this is the case in your office, snow days are the perfect time to test a telecommuting model. If your systems allow, ask your counselors to review applications online from home. If reviewing is not an option, does your team carry school-provided mobile phones? If so, why not have them make calls to admitted students in the local area who are likely to be home, as well?

Assess – Winter is an incredibly hectic, often loud and challenging time for most Admission offices. Phones ring constantly. Everyone from parents to college presidents want to know what’s going on with applications. The office is full to capacity as all counselors are off the road hunkered down with apps to review. Snow days provide excellent, unexpected moments of peace and quiet. Take a deep breath, make a cup of hot cocoa, and look at your numbers with a clear, relaxed mind. Knock some of those pending tasks off of your to-do list!

Notify your customers – Let your most important cohorts know what to expect. Don’t just leave a weather statement on your office voice mail. Send an email to folks who are waiting to hear from you, letting them know that they will not be hearing from you for the day. It’s good, proactive customer service and an extra touch point.


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What Makes for a Great Acceptance Campaign?

Congratulations to our client, St. John’s University, for launching a truly engaging acceptance campaign!Recruitment marketing campaign image

Each communication channel used for marketing purposes has a unique blend of features and functions that can incorporate text, images, videos, sharing, etc. However, the fundamentals of effective recruitment campaigns remain the same: Utilize channels that make sense for different segments of your target audience and communicate with them using messages that resonate and compel them to action.

St. John’s presented us with a simple challenge: develop a new acceptance notification. We responded with an engaging, authentic campaign that brought together the perfect mix of print, digital, and social media for maximum impact.

Students accepted to St. John’s receive a package with a simple, yet powerful message that builds upon the institution’s brand. The folder, which simply states, “YOU’LL LOVE THE WAY YOU LOOK IN RED,” includes their acceptance letter, a poster that was developed using only St. John’s Instagram photos, and an invitation to share the good news by starring in their very own animated video. In three easy steps, they are ready to share their videos (and the great news) with their friends and family on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. We are currently monitoring the campaign to see how many students produce and share a video as well as the kinds of conversations that emerge. The results to-date are impressive!

Check out my acceptance video from St. John’s University: