Founder’s Perspective: Investing in an Enrollment and Retention Driven Culture

Posted September 25, 2017 by Mark Perna

Getting more of the right students, in the right programs, for the right reasons: this has been my mantra for more years than I can remember. This is a goal everyone wants to reach, no matter how high or low their current enrollment and retention numbers. We all want to make a bigger difference for more students, but sometimes we miss a key piece of how to achieve that.

So many schools prioritize the quality of their labs and training equipment, investing in the best technology to create positive outcomes for their students—and rightly so. Career-focused education has to be cutting-edge, as technology is always changing and we’re training the skills that our students will be using in the workplace of tomorrow. I love walking into these high-tech programs because they’re exciting and up to date—but what if we’re not attracting the right students to these very same programs? What if our labs, so advanced and cool, sit empty or are severely under-utilized? What good does that do anyone?

Unfortunately, this happens more than it should. Attracting more right students to the programs that are right for them doesn’t have to be a mystery, but it doesn’t just happen on its own. Even when our facilities are sporting the latest technology and training equipment, very few prospective students will discover these opportunities on their own. Something more is needed.

Investing Where It Matters

Investing where it matters means investing in students. One way to do this to reach more of them with a compelling message about the expanded opportunities and competitive advantage they can experience through career-focused education. To make it happen, we must invest in both our labs and in the powerful, long-term strategies and drip sequences that draw students into them. Your school culture must be driven by intentional, proactive enrollment and retention planning. Students won’t realize the amazing experiences waiting for them at your organization unless there is a rigorous, detailed communications plan to reach them. They don’t know what they don’t know, and we have to change that.

I believe today’s young people have amazing potential and are capable of achieving far beyond what we may currently expect of them. When we show them the array of exciting career possibilities in their field of interest and help them pinpoint the perfect choice for them, they respond by performing at a higher level in both their academic and technical subjects. They graduate with a plan of where they want to go and how they will get there. And they’re passionate about doing it! The investment we made in reaching them pays off not just in positive results for the organization, but in the productive, self-sustaining, and hardworking citizens they become.

The ROI of a Long-Term, Sustainable Plan

Every day, I see our clients achieving remarkable and sometimes staggering results. They have come so much further than they ever dreamed possible: significantly growing enrollment and performance, developing the determination to retain students like never before, and investing both financial and human capital resources to transform their organizations. They are the schools who are filling their high-tech labs with right students from top to bottom—because they have invested in becoming enrollment and retention driven.

These organizations are on a trajectory to truly become the sexy school in their community or region—and yes, they are often CTE organizations who are achieving this. Talk about combating the stigmas! They’re blowing them out of the water. And it’s all because they are choosing to invest not just in the high-tech training facilities, but also in the dynamic strategies, tools, timelines, organization-wide professional development, drip sequences, and overall transformative mindset to change their reality.

There’s a huge return on investment for developing the strategies, drip sequences, and passion to reach your target audience with your message. Attracting and retaining more right students is more than just a strategy; it’s an overarching culture that we must invest in. By proactively creating a long-term, sustainable plan for enrollment and retention growth, you can get more of the right students, in the right programs, for the right reasons—and keep those amazing, high-tech labs full to the brim.

About The Author
Mark Perna
Mark C. Perna is a best-selling author and the founder of TFS in Cleveland, Ohio, a full-service strategic consulting firm whose mission is to share and support every client's passion for making a difference.
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