The Need to Think Differently for Higher Ed’s Future

The official “census date,” with its final headcount of enrolled students, may still be a few weeks away, but most senior leaders at private colleges and universities already have a good sense of their numbers—newly enrolled and returning students. As we reported earlier this year in The Lawlor Review, college admissions offices have had to work harder than perhaps ever before to bring in the class (see “Unmasking the Chief Enrollment Officer Superhero“), thanks to a challenging set of marketplace conditions:

These days, everyone is thinking ROI—whether it’s the families of prospective students contemplating their college costs and the accompanying employment outcomes, education technology investors considering entry into the higher education sector, politicians charting policy positions for funding colleges, or higher education administrators deciding how best to allocate their resources.

That’s why coming up with solutions that are fresh and innovative, yet still grounded in market intelligence, has become essential at many higher education institutions—and especially at small, tuition-driven private colleges that must evolve in order to thrive.


New Ideas

The Wall Street Journal reports that the debate over college costs “is yielding a rarity in politics—new ideas.”

Quality First

Outgoing AAC&U president Carol Geary Schneider embraces change in the interest of quality, says Inside Higher Ed.

The Mission

AAC&U’s strategic perspective was also the topic of our own in-depth interview with VP Debra Humphreys.


Lawlor Recommends

The post-recession years have been a real catalyst for campus leadership to realize that higher education can’t return to the past, but it can reflect on the past to inform the future. And if the future is to be filled with success, then senior leadership needs to think differently and make things happen sooner rather than later.

Professor John M. Richardson, Jr.’s memorable quote is particularly applicable to today’s higher education marketplace: “When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.”

In our interactions with college presidents, senior leaders, and particularly enrollment and marketing professionals at private colleges and universities throughout the country, we’ve been noticing widespread agreement regarding the need to think differently about even the most fundamental operations of an institution. This renewed spirit of engaging in data-based decision making, informed intuition, and edupreneurial behavior is intelligent—a characteristic everyone would expect to be associated with a college or university and its leadership.

Yes, these are challenging times for higher education. But as we saw during Summer Seminar (check out our just-released highlight video!), for those engaged in edupreneurial thinking and behavior, these are also exciting times that provide promise for the future.

Thinking differently will also be the topic at our Lunch with Lawlor event in San Diego on October 2. Amy Wilkinson, author of The Creator’s Code, will discuss the six essential skills for entrepreneurial success and provide some coaching on how to think like an edupreneur. If you are interested in attending, please register soon.