Watch this interview with Monica Mendez Grant, vice president for student life at Texas Woman’s University, as she discusses their need to expand into the graduate and online market.
Texas Woman’s University (TWU) wanted to diversify their revenue streams by not only enhancing service to traditional undergraduates, but also by growing enrollment in their graduate and online programs. Over the last year, university stakeholders worked to reconfigure and update many graduate and online programs to better meet the preferences of today’s demanding students.
What TWU needed
TWU then determined it needed a partner to help them successfully market, recruit, enroll and retain to students in a highly competitive environment. They looked into various Online Program Managers (OPMs), but institutional leadership and stakeholders across the institution were hesitant for a number of reasons.
What they were seeking
- TWU leaders wanted a partner who could focus on both online and classroom programs at all levels.
- They wanted to maintain control of the academics.
- They wanted to maintain ownership of messaging and strategy (while relying on the expertise of a trusted partner).
- They wanted to know why decisions were being made.
- They did not want to enter into a long-term agreement that would see a significant portion of their revenue turned over to an OPM.
Goals and challenges
The goals they set for a potential partnership fit well with RNL’s broad capabilities not only by level and type of study (classroom/online/undergraduate/graduate) but also by range of services (lead gen, marketing, recruitment, applicant processing, financial aid/net tuition). TWU wanted a partner that would help them:
- Grow total enrollment by a minimum of 3 percent annually.
- Grow graduate and online enrollment and position new and existing programs in the market for long-term success.
- Support and enhance recruitment and application processing operations across all levels and types of study through the implementation of a CRM and other structural changes.
- Gain strategic ability and stability in financial aid and net tuition revenue generation.
- Specifically develop a competitive scholarship and aid strategy that would support institutional growth goals and mission.
Why TWU chose RNL
After considering several potential partners, TWU selected RNL as its strategic partner for a three year period. According to Monica Mendez Grant, vice president for student life and the primary coordinator of the partnership selection process, one of the primary reasons they selected RNL was “the clear expertise that RNL brings to the table in every corner of higher education. It was hard to find an organization that was as well versed in marketing online graduate programs as it was in improving yield among traditional undergraduates.” She went on to say that the fact that “RNL offers important guidance, feedback and benchmarking around issues as diverse as staffing, technological infrastructure, and state-of-the-art fundraising gave them the edge over some other providers.”
“The transparency of RNL’s research functions was also highly attractive. We need to take a data-driven approach to selecting focus programs and developing new ones, and knowing that RNL not only believes in this approach, but also makes every data point it surfaces available to us is really valuable to us as a data-informed institution.”
After much discussion and dialogue, RNL crafted a set of solutions that addressed each of TWU’s unique needs.
For the traditional undergraduate audience, RNL is using its suite of Demand Builder, Applicant Cultivator, Video Engagement, Online Engagement to help reverse recent erosion of the inquiry and applicant funnel and to be proactive as the university looks forward to challenging times ahead. Monica added, “We also are employing RNL’s Melt Prevention, Digital Boost, and Total Telecounseling to ensure that as many students as possible that approach us, enroll with us.” These services are being augmented by innovative services aimed at advancing financial aid strategically to meet our mission and goals. To that end, RNL will deploy customized services including a TrueCost Calculator and Personalized FinAid Videos that will be customized to every applying student. Monica said, “As TWU’s VP for student life, I am intimately aware of the importance of personalization and I can’t wait to leverage RNL’s personalized financial aid video strategy.”
For the graduate and online audience, in order to help TWU confront a recent softening of inquiries, apps, and enrollments in its graduate programs, RNL is deploying Digital Lead Gen to grow interest in the programs, and Lead Qualification, Application Marketing, and Yield Optimization to maintain the strongest possible funnel from start to finish. “RNL’s expertise in raising the visibility of our programs comes at the perfect time,” Monica said, “and will allow us to more aggressively promote recent changes in many of these programs’ online format which were designed to make them more attractive to the market. It would be a mistake to spend as much time as we did in working on these programs and then not make sure prospective students knew what we had done (for their benefit).”
Monica was again drawn to RNL’s Personalized Videos and Chatbot services. “These two services speak to the competing needs of adult online and graduate students. They need information on demand, which the chatbot will help with, and they need it personalized, which the videos will help us accomplish. In both cases, we just didn’t have the internal capacity to do these things on our own.”
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Institution-wide, TWU commissioned RNL to leverage its wide-ranging consultant expertise to improve institutional effectiveness in a variety of areas. “As I mentioned earlier,” Monica said, “the cumulative experience of the team that RNL has assembled to assist us–with consultants that have not only worked with colleges, but at colleges like TWU, gives us great confidence.” RNL is undertaking a comprehensive review of current recruitment practices across all levels; a comprehensive tuition pricing sensitivity analysis; a multi-year Strategic Enrollment Planning process; and ongoing market research that will underpin both the selection of existing focus programs for marketing concentration, but also new program concepts that have the best potential for success in a competitive market.