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Responsibly Buying Higher Ed Agency Services, The Admissions Communication Bell Curve, and AI Goes Ivy League

Responsibly Buying Higher Ed Agency Services, The Admissions Communication Bell Curve, and AI Goes Ivy League
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Welcome to Halda Insights! We interact with students from over 150 schools. As always, we’re turning our connections into research. Our in-house data insights are in bold. If you like what you learn, go ahead and share it!

Very small (or very large) student pool? Efficient communication lags

70% of PhD prospects claim it's nearly impossible to efficiently find the information they need.


Only 30% of graduate students claim it's easy to get answers to their admissions questions.


Master's students are 2.5x more likely to claim they easily got answers to their admissions questions.


The moral of this story is that the efficient flow of information lives by the bell curve. Master’s students are, in many cases, a population that lives within the sweet spot. If the population of students is either too huge or too niche, however, it’s hard to get them the information they need.


PhD students are a traditionally niche population. They have tons of specific questions and high standards for what qualifies as quality information. 


Chances are they’re going to have to connect with specific people to get everything they need, so it’s hard to serve them efficiently. Still, that 70% number is alarming. Admissions counselors can’t be all things to all people, but they can know the right people for each thing. Building a system of engaged faculty to help with targeted follow-up turns a frustrating process into a team effort, and gets PhD students connected with the right people for their questions.


Ironically enough, the average undergrad prospect can likely identify most acutely with the PhD’s student’s frustrations (we’re currently conducting a similar study for undergrad prospects–coming soon!). With more applications to handle, but a shrinking pool of truly interested students, efficiently reaching undergrad prospects can feel like trying to water a garden with a spoon. While PhD students may need more one-to-one communication, serving a massive pool of undergraduates will likely require finding ways to make those intimate conversations more scalable.

Recruiting business students? Nurture their network.

Business students place a higher value on alumni networks than any other graduate student population.


The ultimate pragmatists when it comes to enrollment decision-making, they aren’t here to mess around, they’re here to get a job. And they know that, more often than not, a personal connection trumps a killer resume.


It’s not enough to show them that you have successful alumni. You have to show them systems for connecting with those successful people. There are plenty of ways to do this, and they all take a little extra work. For one-to-one relationships, alumni mentoring programs help build the kind of deep bonds that sustain careers. On a less structured level, networking and fundraising events also allow for students to mix and mingle with successful alumni. 


The main thing is to create spaces for these connections to happen as organically as possible. Host seminars, hold speaking events, sponsor professional workshops that draw alumni and students into the same spaces so those nebulous alumni networks can become real professional opportunities.

Thinking about a marketing agency? We'll help you shop smarter

Don't get burned, buy higher ed marketing services responsibly webinar

It’s Budget Season (isn’t it always!), which means you’re probably poring over numbers and resources to find your workflow holes and how you can fill them efficiently. That often brings the prospect of an agency into the mix. The cool thing is that Halda works with agencies to help complement what they do, and we’re learning tons about what an effective agency looks like. 


Now we’re teaming up with Suzan Brinker, Founder and CEO of Viv Higher Education (an agency we’re super-impressed with) to have a conversation about buying agency services. Suzan worked for years as a leader in higher ed enrollment at schools like Penn State University before turning that experience into her own successful agency.


She has the best interests of higher education at heart, and knows what a mutually beneficial partnership looks like. We couldn’t be more thrilled to turn our relationship with Viv into a webinar for our clients. So join us for the conversation at 3 EST on Thursday, February 29th (yes, it’s a leap day webinar! Extra learning for 2024!).

Building a successful relationship with your marketing agency...continued

blog post about the conversations you need to have before hiring a higher ed marketing agency

Whether you’re already in a relationship with an agency or you’re still exploring the possibility of one, there are certain factors you need to consider if you want that relationship to be  copacetic. 


Here are some of the things you should be looking for according to Suzan and our own experience:


1. Can they tie their activities to enrollments? We know an agency is going to be more responsible for those top-of-funnel metrics, but as those leads mature they should be enrolling at an acceptable clip. If you haven’t committed to an agency yet, make sure they can show you some real correlations between the work they do and the students who enroll. If you already have an agency, make sure you’re holding them accountable.


2. Can you see the data picture on your own? Some agencies like to control the narrative, which means data obfuscation and invisibility. To get ahead of this, set early guidelines for reporting on raw data you can interpret for yourself, and establish a timeline for consistent updates. Otherwise, by the time you realize something isn’t working it could be too late.


3. Are they on the cutting edge? Agencies shouldn’t just be doing the work that you already know how to do for yourself. They should be taking your processes and technologies to the next level. If you aren’t learning new techniques from your agency, if they aren’t implementing novel, future-proof practices, then they are probably fine with doing a job that’s just “good enough”. And, chances are, “good enough” isn’t good enough at their price tag.


This is just a preview. For an in-depth look at evaluating a higher ed marketing agency, check out our blog, “The Conversations You Need to Have Before You Hire a Higher Ed Marketing Agency”. It might just save you from entering (or continuing) a toxic relationship.

AI Goes Ivy League

The University of Pennsylvania just went two feet in on AI with their newly-announced Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Artificial Intelligence–the first Ivy League school to create something of this kind. It’s a program focused on responsible, thoughtful AI innovation and tool building. The first class starts fall of 2024, and signals the lasting relationship between artificial intelligence and academia.


Artificial intelligence might feel like magic, but the magicians are all human, and we’re going to need more of them as the AI systems get even more sprawling and sophisticated. We expect more institutions to follow the path that schools like Penn are blazing.

Thanks for checking in, and stay tuned for more Insights to come!

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