Data before creative

What do students say about your school when you’re not in the room?

Every PSE marketing professional knows that when it comes to a school’s reputation, it’s not what you hear students saying that counts. It’s what you overhear them saying.

Most people are nice, after all, and that’s a good thing a lot of the time. It’s not such a good thing, though, if you want to learn more about where your school can improve to attract more top-quality, targeted applicants.

Oscar Wilde once said that a true friend stabs you in the front. If self-improvement is the goal, then there is no substitute for honesty, and that’s why accurate applicant feedback is key for any school looking for a true sense of how their potential students see it. And the quickest way to get this kind of feedback is through timely and reliable research on your school’s applicants’ perceptions.

Why do students choose to enroll in your school? You could walk your institution’s hallways and ask this question to the first student you see, but that’s not the same as walking past a room and overhearing a group of students saying what they really think. The first scenario might give you the nicer answer, but the second will give you the more useful one.

Do students enroll in your school because they like your facilities? Because of your school’s prestige? Because their parents want them to?

Who knows, unless there is clear data to say one way or the other?

One of the biggest challenges in marketing your school to potential applicants is the sheer number of unknowns that can impact student decision-making. At some point, the empty space created by these unknowns needs to be filled, and when it isn’t filled by reliable research, it tends to be filled by anecdotes and personal opinions about how kids think these days. This second option tends to create more workplace headaches and arguments than it does solutions.

Some marketing departments might feel like the day-to-day workload is so heavy that doing a large-scale applicant study seems like just too much to take on at this time of year. They might put the study off until later, only to realize that they have missed the optimal time to survey applicants, whose sense of the decision-making process is still fresh from the application season.

For decades now, institutions big and small from across the country have used Academica’s University/College Applicant Study (UCAS) to seize and defend their marketing advantage. They do so by collecting reliable data and working with our team to drill down on the patterns in awareness that get to the very crux of applicant decision-making.

Before you pursue your next major marketing initiative, we ask you to consider whether this effort is based on the most up-to-date research on how applicants currently see your institution. If it is, you will know which concerns to proactively address and which benefits to highlight in your marketing and communications, no matter what project you’re working on.


To learn more about the University/College Applicant Study, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. Or if you’d prefer to chat on the phone, give us a call toll-free at 1-866-922-8636 ext. 228.

At Academica Group, we’re proud to work with hundreds of committed, passionate higher ed professionals who want to drive improvement at their institutions. By providing enhanced research capacity and expert guidance, we allow these professionals to work beyond resource limitations and seize more opportunities to positively impact the lives of their students, colleagues, and campus communities.

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