Catalyst for Future Success

As we have already referenced this month, AGB’s most recent Trusteeship magazine was full of informative insights that are so relevant to today’s market conditions.

AGB’s executive vice president, Mary A. Papazian, opens with a headline that is a dose of reality: “Don’t Sell Higher Ed’s ROI Short.” She writes, “Immediate economic returns are certainly important—no institution wants a student to be in debt decades after they graduate—but relying on this sole metric diminishes the benefits that higher education provides to individuals, our society, and our democracy as a whole.” She also notes another factoid that is definitely a positive benefit for students: “Colleges should provide students with quality advising and transparent data on the full range of career opportunities and long-term graduate earnings to help them make an informed decision about pursuing programs of study that reflect their goals and interests. This enhances student success in and beyond college.”

More insights were shared in Paul Tough’s article. He is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and author of several books including his newest, The Inequality Machine: How College Divides Us. The headline of his article is “Americans’ Changing Relationship with Higher Education: From Access to Completion to Success Beyond Completion.” He notes, “Given the shifts underway in both the economy and in public opinion, institutions of higher education in the United States now face both a threat and an opportunity.” For many colleges and universities, these problems are not going to go away if they are not addressed in a manner that demonstrates the authentic success of attending and graduating. As Paul notes, “There are policies and practices that could significantly shift the relationship that colleges have with their current and prospective students—changes that could improve the public standing of higher education by improving the actual experience of students, families, and community members.”

Lawlor Recommends

None of this is a surprise to us, but it continues to be a lingering problem for so many colleges and universities. For years we have conducted research with various constituents on campus and off campus, finding not only price sensitivity, but more importantly, a need for all prospects to hear and know the inherent benefits and value of investing in a particular college or university. Actions speak louder than words, and when the value of a college experience is articulated to others by students, faculty, staff and alumni, the word spreads about why a specific college is a great investment today and tomorrow. This is another reminder for the campus community to collaborate together about viable solutions that are relevant today. The result will be people supporting what they help create, and their passion will definitely be persuasive to so many others.