New Rules in College Choice: Findings from Lipman Hearne's National Study on High-Achieving Seniors

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Insights into the values and decision-making processes that guide high-achieving students’ enrollment choices.

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New Rules in College Choice: Findings from Lipman Hearne's National Study on High-Achieving Seniors

  1. 1. The New Rules in College Choice: Findings from Lipman Hearne’s National Study on High-Achieving Seniors y g g
  2. 2. Donna Van De Water, Ph.D. Tom Abrahamson Managing Director & Principal Managing Director & Principal
  3. 3. About Lipman Hearne • Established in 1966, now the nation’s largest marketing firm serving colleges, universities, and nonprofits • Expertise from academia, global agencies, and nonprofit organizations • 77 staff members in Chicago and Washington, D.C. • Best practices and thought leadership 3
  4. 4. 4 An Integrated Approach • Research • Brand Strategy • Enrollment Marketing • Integrated Marketing • Creative Development C ti D l t • Interactive • Advertising • Media Planning and Buying • Public Affairs
  5. 5. 5 The new rules • Rule #1: What matters to college- bound students is not “one size fits all”
  6. 6. 6 The new rules • Rule #1: What matters to college- bound students is not “one size fits all” • Rule #2: The way students now learn about colleges has changed from push to pull. p
  7. 7. 7 The new rules • Rule #1: What matters to college- bound students is not “one size fits all” • Rule #2: The way students now learn about colleges has changed from push to pull. p • Rule #3: The recession’s impact on college choice will stay with us a long g y g while.
  8. 8. 8 The new rules • Rule #1: What matters to college- bound students is not “one size fits all” • Rule #2: The way students now learn about colleges has changed from push to pull. p • Rule #3: The recession’s impact on college choice will stay with us a long g y g while. • Rule #4: Mom and dad are “all-in” at all stages of the enrollment decision t f th ll td i i
  9. 9. First a little background on g the study…
  10. 10. 10 The 2009 study sought answers to these questions: • Why are these high-achievers going to college? • Where are they going (public vs private)? • What college features and factors closed the deal and which ones didn’t? didn t? • What features are they willing to trade-off?
  11. 11. 11 The 2009 study sought answers to these questions: • How important is “fit?” • What information sources broke through at decision time and were most valued?
  12. 12. 12 The 2009 study sought answers to these questions: • In what cases will students travel for their education? • How do students factor in financial aid and scholarships into their decision process? • What role do parents play in the process?
  13. 13. 13 Survey respondents • 1,264 college-bound high school seniors • Solid-performers and Academic Superstars • NRCCUA database and screening • Applied to and accepted by at least three colleges
  14. 14. 14 Ability Level* Level Academic Superstars 66%
  15. 15. 15 Solid performers: SAT M+V = 1150 1290 performers 1150-1290 Superstars: SAT M+V 1300 - 1600 Ability Level* Academic Superstars S t 66% *SOURCES: Please indicate the college entrance exam that you took and earned the highest combined/composite score? **SOURCE: NRCCUA database What was your combined SAT I verbal and math score (out of 1600)? What was your combined SAT II verbal and math score (out of 2400)? What was your ACT composite score?
  16. 16. 16 The survey participants: 24% Northeast 32% South 21% Midwest 22% West SOURCE: NRCCUA database
  17. 17. 17 Ethnicity • 64% White • 15% Asian • 6% Hispanic • 3% African American • 6% Other • 9% Unknown Gender • 65% Female • 35% Male SOURCE: NRCCUA database NOTE: Multiple responses were allowed
  18. 18. 18 What we measured • 30 information sources: usage and influence
  19. 19. 19 What we measured • 30 information sources: usage and influence • 29 college attributes: importance in p g p picking g schools to apply to/ at time of decision
  20. 20. 20 What we measured • 30 information sources: usage and influence • 29 college attributes: importance in p g p picking g schools to apply to/ at time of decision • Values
  21. 21. 21 What we measured • 30 information sources: usage and influence • 29 college attributes: importance in p g p picking g schools to apply to/ at time of decision • Values • Tradeoffs
  22. 22. 22 What we measured • 30 information sources: usage and influence • 29 college attributes: importance in p g p picking g schools to apply to/ at time of decision • Values • Tradeoffs • Perceptions of college cost
  23. 23. 23 What we measured • 30 information sources: usage and influence • 29 college attributes: importance in p g p picking g schools to apply to/ at time of decision • Values • Tradeoffs • Perceptions of college cost • Parental impact
  24. 24. 24 Rule #1 What matters to college- college bound students is not “one size fits all.” 24
  25. 25. 25 Why are these high-achievers high achievers going to college?
  26. 26. 26 Top reasons for going to college (All respondents) • Prepare for career • Learn to be an independent person • To contribute to social and professional success • Make “best” friends • Access to diverse people and backgrounds • Make family proud
  27. 27. 27 Why College: You want to go to the college that will best prepare 95% you for a career 89% It's best to go to a college where there are many 62% people who have different backgrounds and points of view from yours 70% You want to go to college to make your family 57% proud 50% Where you earn your undergraduate d Wh d d t degree i not is t 38% nearly as important as where you earn your graduate degree 49% It's b t t It' best to go to a college where most people t ll h t l 40% share your views and interests 30% #REF! Performers Academic Solid It's best to go to a co ege where you know you will ts college ee o 25% Superstars Solid Performers be one of the very best students 17% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%100%
  28. 28. 28 Which is more important? Intellectual growth or career preparation?
  29. 29. 29 Did type of college selected change between 2006 and 2009? Academic Superstars Solid Performers 2006 2009 2006 2009 N=300 N=828 N=300 N=433 Public 46% 47% 57% 63% Private 52% 51% 37% 35% Indeterminat 2% 2% 6% 0% e
  30. 30. 30 Most important in determining where to apply SOURCE: What was most important to you in deciding where to apply? [Open-ended responses.]
  31. 31. 31 Most important in final college decision Not at all important Very important SOURCE: Please rate how important each of the following were in your decision to enroll at [SCHOOL] instead of another college or university.
  32. 32. 32 Least important factors in the final college decision Not at all important Very important SOURCE: Please rate how important each of the following were in your decision to enroll at [SCHOOL] instead of another college or university.
  33. 33. 33 Superstar’s Comment on “Fit” “It was not just one thing. Everything h d t come t E thi had to together; th from the atmosphere to the academics to the price it all had to fit ” price, fit.
  34. 34. 34 2/3 of respondents said they are attending their top choice school. Yet, among these students…
  35. 35. 35 2/3 of respondents said they are attending their top choice school. Yet, among these students… • 1/3 say they’re enrolling at a school that is not a very good fit
  36. 36. 36 2/3 of respondents said they are attending their top choice school. Yet, among these students… • 1/3 say they’re enrolling at a school that is not a very good fit • 1/3 say that they are at their “perfect fit” (rating 10/10 for their choice) So, just how important is “fit”?
  37. 37. 37 Decision factors by level of “fit” achieved fit TOP 5 TOP 10 Not at all important Very important
  38. 38. 38 Top 5 Decision factors by level of “fit” achieved fit Not at all important Very important
  39. 39. 39 Decision factors by level of “fit” achieved cont fit cont. Not at all important Very important
  40. 40. 40 Bottom 10 Decision factors by level of “fit” achieved cont. Not at all important Very important
  41. 41. 41 Trade off factors in the enrollment decision SOURCE: If you have to pick one characteristic, which of the two played a greater role in your decision to enroll at [SCHOOL]?
  42. 42. 42 Reputation Trumps Location
  43. 43. 43 Reputation Edges-out Cost
  44. 44. 44 Cost Beats Location
  45. 45. 45 Reputation (major) Trumps Location
  46. 46. 46 Overall Reputation and Program Reputation Both Matter
  47. 47. 47 Reputation of Major Trumps Cost
  48. 48. 48 Rule #2 The way students now learn about colleges has changed from push to pull.
  49. 49. 49 Most influential sources at decision time SOURCE: Please rate how influential each of the following were in your decision to enroll at [COLLEGE FROM Q. 6] instead of another college or university.
  50. 50. 50 Important sources of college information that could potentially be more impactful
  51. 51. 51 Information source breakthrough opportunities
  52. 52. 52 In what cases will students travel far for college?
  53. 53. 53 Proximity to home was among the least important factors among high achievers at decision time. They are more concerned with: • Fit • Academic opportunities • Career opportunities • Reputation (both overall and within their major)
  54. 54. 54 Enrollment results by location type Solid First time undergrads, recent Academic performers HS grads Total superstars (N=1,261) (N=433) (N=2,272,255) (N=828) Location Large/mid- 68% 70% 67% 56% sized city Urban fringe 17% 18% 17% 24% Town/rural 10% 9% 11% 20%
  55. 55. 55 Rule #3 The recession s recession’s impact on college choice will stay with us a long while. hil
  56. 56. 56 How the economy affected college choice this year • 53% will enroll in a less expensive school • 44% will rely more heavily on financial aid counseling • 38% will obtain a larger loan • 38% will attend a college closer to home g • 25% will visit fewer college campuses • 24% will change from a p g private to a p public • 21% will live at home while attending college Source: 2009 Report on the Impact of the Economy On College Enrollment by Longmire and Company
  57. 57. 57 How d students H do t d t p perceive costs?
  58. 58. 58 A low-priced college = Median Cost of $15,000 A high-priced college = Median Cost of $35,000 high priced
  59. 59. 59 Total costs by area of study Social STEM Humanities H ii Business B i Education Ed i Professional P f i l Science A low-priced college costs less $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 than… than A high-priced college costs more $35,000 $40,000 $36,500 $40,000 $30,000 $40,000 than… SOURCE: How would you define the following terms? (Median)
  60. 60. 60 How do students factor in financial aid and fi i l id d scholarships into their p decision process?
  61. 61. 61 Scholarship and tuition have different meanings for students attending private vs. public institutions Not at all important Very important
  62. 62. 62 Money offered trumps prestige Not at all important Very important
  63. 63. 63 Rule #4: Know that mom and dad are “all in” at every stage of the college decision.
  64. 64. 64 Do "helicopter” parents really exist?
  65. 65. 65 Students said parents were involved in: •Identifying colleges to consider (75%) •Determining where to apply (75%) •Managing applications (62%) •Deciding where to visit ( g (75%)) •Deciding where to enroll (69%) SOURCE: Which family members, if any, were involved during each of the following stages of your college decision?
  66. 66. 66 Ranking of parents’ influence in final decision, among all information sources used • Conversation with your p parents ( out of 30) (#2 ) • Letters/mailings to your parents from colleges (#22 out of of 30) SOURCE: Please rate how influential each of the following were in your decision to enroll at [NAME OF COLLEGE FROM Q. 6] instead of another college or university. NOTE: Ranks based upon top-two-box ratings
  67. 67. 67 What Wh t are th k the key observations of the study?
  68. 68. 68 What are the key observations from the study? • Expectations are sky high
  69. 69. 69 What are the key observations from the study? • Expectations are sky high • Power of people and experiences must be harnessed
  70. 70. 70 What are the key observations from the study? • Expectations are sky high • Power of people and experiences must be harnessed • Economic realities can take some schools out of the game too soon
  71. 71. 71 What are the key observations from the study? • Expectations are sky high • Power of people and experiences must be harnessed • Economic realities can take some schools out of the game too soon • Strive to “flip the communication pyramid”
  72. 72. Discussion 72
  73. 73. Additional analysis available: • Comparison of findings to 2006 study where relevant t d h l t • Different approaches used to achieve success in life • High-achieving seniors choosing liberal arts colleges • High-achieving seniors choosing metropolitan research universities • High-achieving seniors choosing faith-based colleges • Custom analysis possible upon request 73

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