External Research Matters
Demographic and Economic Forecasting
Before an effective marketing plan can be launched, a school needs to understand its current market and determine potential for new markets. In order to forecast future prospects for your school, the Baker Group will first determine your school’s current market position by organizing existing admission and enrollment data. The Baker Group researches and organizes economic and demographic trends in counties, states and regions from which your school draws students. Integrating this information with updated census information and other demographic information the Baker Group will then assist your institution in assessing traditional and new markets.
Included in this analysis is an assessment of the admission and enrollment patterns and your school’s composition, a review of the demographic and economic characteristics of a school’s sending communities, and a review of the general population and economic demographics of the school’s market area- identifying those cities, towns and neighborhoods that need to be further developed.
This phase of admission research identifies the external factors that affect admission and enrollment management patterns (i.e., demographic indicators, local area trends, competition from independent day and boarding schools and public schools, accessibility and affordability, image and perceptions of a school). How are families making decisions about private schools and your school in particular? How are other educational options positioned? Included in the assessment is surveying sending schools and educational consultants as well as peer schools: After developing a list of peer day and boarding schools with which a school would like to compare itself, admission material is collected and statistical data from schools when available. Phone interviews are conducted with personnel regarding perceptions of your school.
Inquiry-Non Applicant, Visitor-Non Applicant Research
When families inquire to your school what other educational options are they pursuing (independent day, and/or boarding, parochial, public)? What are the factors contributing to the decision of inquirers who choose not to apply to your school? How effective is your school amongst the competition?
The paper survey that will be mailed will track demographic information as well as motivating factors behind looking at your school as well as other educational options. Other questions will include: How would your school rate for academic reputation, quality of academic facilities, etc.? Questions will include why did the family choose not to apply to your school? Where will the student attend in the fall and why?
A phone survey of selected interviewees who chose not to apply can also be conducted, and similar questions to those listed above will be asked. Additional questions will be asked that pertain to the experience during the on -campus visit. A separate report of these findings will be provided.
Admitted Student Research
While Admission Directors at independent schools have some knowledge of why accepted students choose to attend their school or not, actual research on accepted student decision making is either limited in scope or is anecdotal. In determining the effectiveness of your admission and marketing efforts, as well as the positioning of your institution in the marketplace, admitted student research is the most cost effective way to gain more than a basic understanding of your school’s positioning and the effectiveness of your school’s outreach efforts. Where do non-enrolling accepted students attend, and why? What are the factors at your school that accepted students rate higher than your top competitors? How are your accepted students rating the same factors at your competitor schools?
The most well regarded admitted student survey available to independent schools is the Independent School Admission Survey (ISAS) through Applied Educational Research (AER), in Princeton, New Jersey. Schools interested in the ISAS should contact AER directly at 609 924-0464 orwww.aerweb.com/isas.
The Baker Group is available for oversight of the admitted student questionnaire process and will assist in the analysis of the ISAS when a school’s results are tabulated.