It’s no secret by now that the redesign and relaunch of the FAFSA form at the federal level has caused stress and confusion for higher ed leaders and college-going families alike. Staff and administrators are navigating frequent updates and shifting processes and timelines; and further uncertainty about aid and finances has added to the worries prospective students already feel about affording a degree. (Our national industry listening continues to reveal scholarships and financial aid as top topics discussed online in terms of the college decision-making process.)
Brain Waves Blog
It’s not surprising that 72% of college presidents agree or somewhat agree that their institution needs to make fundamental changes in its business models, programming, or other operations (Inside Higher Ed’s 2023 survey of presidents).
Differentiation is the bottom line of brand strategy. It's what makes an institution relevant and justifies its tuition and perceived quality. Yet any effort to stand out from the competition is a challenging prospect for many institutions searching for relevance and future direction.
Our 2024 kicked off with a trip to sunny Florida for the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute. The conversations and sessions covered the toughest current topics, such as endowments, cost of attendance, artificial intelligence, and others, giving us renewed appreciation for the hardest job in higher ed.
Attendees navigated issues and solutions critical for campus leaders this coming year. Although the focus was on independent colleges, the issues and trends affect every institution in some form. We’re sharing four challenges that will shape the 2024 higher ed landscape.
Athletics and central marcom rarely join in strategic cohesion on campus. Fragmentation and political territorialism have frequently led institutions to detach athletics from the central brand, freeing teams for more flexibility and creativity, but often at the expense of collaboration and consistency. It’s a key reason we see so many bland higher ed ads promoting undergraduate enrollment during high-profile games. Yet there are signs more forward-thinking marketing leaders are unlocking the full power of their brands’ potential using common data-led decision-making.