Sunday, June 10, 2012

Trolling for Students

Higher education is a highly competitive business.

Universities compete for faculty, students, donors and grants.

Universities, public, private, and religious, need to maximize tuition revenues. Ads appear in TV, radio, newspapers, professional publications, alternative media, and social media.

Schools have established non- traditional programs for non-traditional students, often at remote off-campus sites.

They also purchase student lists from a variety of sources.

A well respected Southern California university sent letters to my oldest son and myself the past two weeks seeking our enrollment. I will not name the university, except to say that it is not the University of Southern California, from which my son has a masters. Nor is the school's main campus located in Orange County.

I had met the former President of the University Whose Name Shall Not be Mentioned on a WASC accreditation team. He was very impressive. These letters are not.

My letter starts: “What if you could help secure your future just by going back to college and finishing your bachelor’s degree?”

People with bachelor’s degrees earn an extra 46% higher average annual income than those with no college degree.

This university offers an accelerated 24 month program with classes meeting one night a week at the main campus or one of eight remote sites, including one a few miles from my house. The school offers 6 start dates a year.

That’s convenient and attractive.

The sales pitch continues. The program offers up to 30 credits for life experience, such as “military experience, managing a business, or completing a major project at work.”

Do I qualify for the 30 credit hours with 4 college degrees and scores of publications?

How come my bachelor’s degree, 128 units, was not that easy?

I can qualify for a $2,500 scholarship if I apply by June 30.

Then the letter shifts without a segue to the success of the business school alumni.

More questions:

1) Will a new bachelor’s degree help me get a job at age 67 or 68 when the degree is completed?

2) How are their bachelor grads doing in today’s market when half of today’s grads can’t find employment?

3) Am I really going to earn 46% more?

4) What mailing list could they have purchased my name from?

My son received a slightly different letter from the University Whose Name Shall Not be Mentioned.

It offered an MBA in an accelerated 24 month program with classes meeting one day a week with six start dates a year at the same nine locations.

The application process requires neither an application fee nor the GMAT, but also raises the possibility of a $2,000 scholarship with a June 30 deadline. Sounds like an open admissions program.

On the other hand, alumni who received their MBA only saw a 29% salary increase.

Both letters state “It’s Time to Make the Move.”


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