We educate the educators.
We help colleges, universities, and affinity groups develop effective strategies to navigate rapid changes in higher education with confidence.
Escalating tuition costs and increasing student loan debt have caused many students and parents to question the value proposition of a college education. And employers say students are graduating unprepared to join the workforce. For schools seeking to differentiate themselves at a time of declining enrollment, it is critical to understand their perceptions and priorities.
What is CamposMARKET-ED?
Our experienced team of higher education researchers and strategists have assembled a portfolio of products and research approaches to address the most important issues in the field. We have structured our core proprietary products to be especially relevant to higher education. And we have created new education-specific studies unavailable anywhere else. We also regularly identify trends and blog on the most pressing issues of the day, and we present our findings through presentations and webinars.
Which types of specialized higher education products and services does Campos offer to clients?
STUDENT JOURNEY/STUDENT EXPERIENCE
Higher education begins and ends with the student. Regardless of your role as administrator at a college or university, it is critical to understand the entire path a student takes from preliminary research through consideration, to graduation and beyond, to their chosen career, and as an engaged alumnus. We identify, catalogue, and assess every touchpoint of the entire student journey and to develop strategies to keep students engaged at every stage of the process.
We developed “CamposCOURSE-SURE” to estimate the market potential or demand for a course or program among the right targets at different price points prior to the costly decision of whether to move forward. We also provide you with a competitive context by measuring awareness and perceived reputation of competing programs and competitor institutions, and recommendations on whether to move forward, and at what price.
Campos helps established brands respond to change and make upgrades without having to completely re-brand or lose their recognized identities. We leverage insights from past research to conduct newly “refreshed” perceptual research with key audiences to measure the relevancy and effectiveness of a college’s current brand strategy. We then recommend updates to brand platform, including positioning statement, taglines, brand essence, personas, logo, slogan, visual identify, content marketing, and messaging. Download our free Brand Refresh e-book, How to Build a Powerful Higher Ed Brand (Without Starting Over).
We designed our RESEARCH AUDIT service for marketing, admissions, and enrollment officials who are asked–usually right before a new fundraising campaign or branding initiative–to quickly provide actionable insights from previously conducted market research. The problem is that it is never all in one place, and it has not been gathered, analyzed, and synthesized into a coherent framework or report. Campos has developed a cost-effective approach that summarizes all your past research and identifies gaps going forward.
A difficult task facing college and university administrators is predicting student success. What distinguishes high achievers from others? How can successful students who excel and graduate on time be recruited through targeted messaging? Campos helps clients address these questions using segmentation and data analytics. We create data-driven personas to inform messaging and aid in targeted recruitment, and build strategies around opportunities aimed at increasing enrollment and retention metrics.
Our FEASIBILITY FORECAST process meets the institutional requirements of colleges and universities to conduct feasibility research as part of the approval process for new centers, facilities, makerspaces, and schools. Our credible, peer-reviewed model consists of three components: an analysis of the local competition; an investigation of the labor market through occupational supply and demand research; and surveys of prospective traditional and adult learners. The model measures interest and purchase intent, outlines programs areas of interest, projects enrollment, and determines optimal pricing.
The idea for our FAMILY DIALOGUES service emerged out of the disconnect we have found between teens and their parents about their perceived respective roles in the college application process. Parents and their children talk past one another and use a different language. Discovering common ground through a hybrid focus group/ethnography approach helps us assist our higher education clients by developing messaging strategies that resonate with both.
Our HIGHER EDUCATION Experts
Marty McGough, Higher Education Strategist
A researcher and pollster with over 25 years’ experience conducting market research and polling for non-profits, corporations, advocacy groups, and politicians, Marty has been involved in higher education most of his professional life; first as a college instructor, and then as a researcher. He has conducted comprehensive branding research for numerous 4-year and 2-year institutions of higher learning and has conducted market potential studies for academic programs and colleges instituting new academic programs and building new facilities, centers, and schools.
Marty leads our higher education practice, which includes keeping abreast of developments in the field, conducting market research, blogging on topical issues, creating and giving trend presentations, and developing new products. Product examples include CamposCOURSE-SURE, which offers a proven methodology to determine whether a college or university should move forward with a course or program and provides optimal pricing, and Campos BRAND REFRESH.
Marty especially excels at understanding the motivations and aspirations of prospective college students, both traditional and adult learners, and has researched and published white papers on Millennials and GenZ. He believes that education at the middle- and high-school level is pivotal in projecting college success. An additional area he has focused on at Campos is the intersection of higher education and workforce development. Marty was the lead researcher for two recent highly-acclaimed and published studies: Carnegie Science Center’s “Work to Do: The Role of STEM Education in Improving the Tri-State Region’s Workforce,” and Allegheny Conference on Community Development’s “Bridging the Soft Skills Gap.” Marty also conducted market potential studies that secured funding for two community colleges interested in creating workforce training centers and facilities to address the skills gap in the energy and manufacturing industries is southwestern Pennsylvania: Community College of Allegheny County’s workforce and development facility in Donora; and Community College of Beaver County’s satellite campus.
Prior to joining Campos, Marty headed up research departments at two large agencies—Ruder Finn in New York City and Widmeyer Communications in Washington, DC—and worked at Penn Schoen and Berland Associates, a Washington, DC-based strategic polling firm. Highlights of his career include conducting major branding-related studies for the University of Pennsylvania, College of William and Mary, Miami University of Ohio, and the recently renovated Smithsonian American Art Museum, as well as research for advocacy organizations on such topics as underage drinking (Center for Science in the Public Interest), LGBT rights (Gay, Straight, Lesbian Education Network), climate change (Pew Charitable Trust and Energy Foundation), and domestic violence (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). Marty has also conducted research for award-wining campaigns, which includes work for The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Be a Local Hero), Novartis (Think What’s Possible), Johnson & Johnson (Campaign for Nursing’s Future), and Liz Claiborne (Love is Respect).
Marty received his B.A. in History and English from Allegheny College, his M.A. in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, and pursued doctoral studies in Political Science at the University of Toronto. He also taught at both the State University of New York at Buffalo and at the University of Toronto, and regularly lectures at and consults on behalf of local colleges and universities.
Measuring Reaction to a Revolutionary New Tuition Model
To deal with the student loan crisis, a highly ranked national public research university is developing a new “pay-it-forward” tuition model concept that was based on students paying back grants as donations to an alumni fund that supports all students.
Qualitative research in the form of focus groups and in-depth interviews was conducted with alumni, current juniors and their parents, and high school juniors and their parents to assess reactions to the concept, identify potential barriers, and develop messaging that could inform communications. Feedback from target audiences was used to make our recommendation on whether to move forward with the model.
Identifying the Most Successful Students with Student Journey Mapping
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh was interested in understanding the entire student journey experience to identify those who are most successful.
We designed a multi-phase qualitative and quantitative research plan for a private university with branches across the U.S. to gain insights into how they could improve the way students interact with the brand throughout their entire journey—from the time they become aware of the school to the time they graduate. The outcomes of these efforts, at each step of the way, are allowing the institution to understand and attract the most successful students—the true Creative Warriors. The insights from this research are giving the organization the ability maximize conversion with the highest potential students, and invest in and properly communicate with the ones who are most likely to succeed.
Determining the Feasibility of a New Law School
The University of Washington, Tacoma is considering building a new law school to meet local demand for legal professionals in several growing industries in the South Puget Sound area.
A combined secondary and proprietary quantitative study was designed to estimate demand for the new law school and identify specific practice areas that align with workforce development trends and industry needs. An integral component of the study is to develop a segmentation scheme that accounts for both students who recently graduated from a four-year college and university, as well as working professionals from the area interested in career advancement.
Estimating the Market Potential of New Courses and Programs
The University of California, Irvine faced the prospect of spending significant funds and resources on several new graduate programs without knowing whether there was student demand and what price points were acceptable.
Over the span of three years, CamposCOURSE-SURE–our academic program demand analysis tool–was used to measure the market potential of 19 separate new programs through its quantitative component, and, through price sensitivity analysis, determined the optimal pricing for each. Each study resulted in a recommendation on whether to proceed with the outlined program.
Identifying a Business School’s USP
Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business wanted to know which creative concept and supporting messaging would most differentiate it from–and elevate it above–other top-tier national programs.
We conducted immersive research over a two-week period with prospective students across the country to evaluate alternative advertising concepts and language that would represent the most compelling call-to-action to apply to the program. In fact, the interactive process yielded a reformulated advertising concept, supported by a messaging architecture, that became the cornerstone of the campaign.
Increasing Ranking by Improving the Student Experience
The University of Pittsburgh, College of Business Administration (CBA), wanted direct feedback from its students about how enhancing the undergraduate experience could improve its national ranking.
Four focus groups with graduating seniors were conducted to explore perceptions of their student experience, their perceived strengths and weaknesses of the program, and reaction to major service areas, including admissions, extracurricular activities, quality of teaching and curriculum, facilities, and student spaces. We provided CBA with detailed recommendations in areas such as academics and learning, culture, career assistance, curriculum, and partnership development with business and affinity organizations.
Determining Whether a Reinvented Brand Resonates
Robert Morris University recently changed to university status and needed to know whether its signature branding and capital campaign should be recast and reformulated to account for the name change.
We conducted phone surveys with prospective students and parents to measure advertising awareness, recall of name change, and impact on institutional reputation. Results demonstrated an increase in key campaign-related metrics that was larger than three competitive colleges and universities. The study was instrumental in the decision to retain key messaging of the campaign going forward.
Making a Home for the Maker Movement
The Community College of Allegheny County was interested in determining the demand for a new Workforce Training Center and what this facility would require to be competitive within the higher education marketplace.
CamposCONTEXT360° secondary research, in-depth interviews with thought leaders in the industry, and surveys with prospective high school students and adult learners confirmed that there is a strong demand for an integrated facility that offers students interdisciplinary learning through makerspaces, or an environment for learning-by-doing. In fact, we defined the program areas in which a facility must accommodate, as well as best practices in the United States. The importance of this new workforce facility is the emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and how certain program areas can coincide together in one stand-alone facility.
Speaking the Right Language to Adult Learners
The Pennsylvania State University’s Continuing Education Center wanted to better understand messaging that resonated with adult learners for its new website, specifically language preferences around continuing education, adult learning, and names of centers.
Findings from our in-depth focus groups in three separate locations across the state among both inquirers and prospects resulted in recommendations that included the development of a new web strategy in terms of messaging and content, concrete steps to take for search optimization, the renaming of centers, and increasing the breadth and depth of course offerings.
Determining a Satellite Campus’s Profitability
The Community College of Beaver County wanted to know if demographic and workforce trends indicate sufficient demand among traditional students and adult learners to maintain a satellite campus, given competitive offerings.
Using our CamposDATADIVE tool to analyze, aggregate, and integrate the college’s student database, and CamposCONTEXT360° secondary research on workforce statistics, populations estimates, and a competitive analysis of educational institutions in a six-county area, we found that the answer to their inquiry was yes. The data indicated there was sufficient demand, providing academic programs that match and meet that projected demand were to be created. Campos identified six academic program areas that demonstrated strong market potential. We outlined career paths for each of the program areas for our client, with recommendations for specific curricula.
Improving Satisfaction to Increase Retention
The Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at New York University was experiencing a drop-off in retention, even as its level of student satisfaction with programs remained high. The school was interested in learning how it could improve the student journey to improve graduation rates.
We conducted a comprehensive qualitative and ethnographic research study with current freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors to assess their overall student experience and journey. Although levels of satisfaction were high, students identified several things that would improve the overall student experience, including greater involvement with the industries, a more flexible curriculum, greater academic opportunities and job support, and–above all–clear communications that the center had its own unique identity and brand.
Deep Divide Between Employers and Recent Hires on Preparedness in Business Soft Skills
The Allegheny Conference on Community Development (ACCD) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation sought an answer to a very important question that would inform the development of a pilot program which would be offered at colleges and universities in the greater Pittsburgh area: Which soft skills are most important for workplace success, and how prepared are recent college graduates in these soft skills (e.g. effective communications, teamwork, critical thinking, awareness of how the modern workplace operates, etc.)?
To answer this question, we conducted a comprehensive quantitative online survey with 159 employers who had managed or had direct contact with employees who recently graduated from college, as well as 113 recent college graduate employees. The sampling frame for the study covered all major industries in the region.
Results are instructive. A “soft skills gap” exists between employers and employees who are recent college graduates. Although recent college graduates and employers agree that soft skills are important, how they prioritize their importance is strikingly different, and their perceptions about level of preparedness differ widely. Simply stated, employers believe that recent college graduates aren’t nearly as prepared as they think they are in the critical soft skills need for workplace success: commitment, written communications, critical thinking, and problem solving, to name a few.
The most important finding from the study is that both employers and employees who are recent college graduates agree that a remedy is needed to close this soft skills gap. Employers would welcome a workforce prepared to contribute right away, and recent college graduates said they would have been willing to devote time to soft skills training while still in school. This area of agreement will be the basis for work going forward by our clients to pilot a program to add soft skills to the preparation of students for entering the world of work. Read the publicly-released study, “Bridging the Soft Skills Gap.”
Parents and Educators Agree that STEM Education Must Be “Hands-On”
Carnegie Science Center, supported by Chevron and Nova Chemicals, was interested in exploring the awareness, attitudes, and perceptions of parents and children in grades K-12 about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education in a 17-county area of Southwestern Pennsylvania and two adjoining states.
Primary quantitative research was designed to answer the following question: What is the role of STEM education in improving the Tristate region’s workforce? Feedback from parents and students would be instrumental in designing STEM-related curriculum that would meet the workforce development needs of area employers and provide young people with needed training for meaningful careers.
To assess awareness and attitudes about STEM education, Campos conducted a rigorous, demographically balanced quantitative research project consisting of online and telephone surveys with 978 parents and 100 middle- and high-school students in the region. Results from the “Work to Do: The Role of STEM Education in Improving the Tri-State Region’s Workforce” study demonstrated that parental attitudes about education and careers align with STEM fundamentals, but awareness of and understanding of STEM was low, especially in rural areas. Campos also conducted in-depth interviews with 47 educators and business leaders, as well as “Family Dialogues”—dinner home visits with parents and their children across the region—to supplement information obtained from parents and students. Though many parents and students are uninformed and are intimidated by advanced math and science, they embrace education that is engaging to students: collaborative, hands-on, problem-solving and project based—the foundational elements of STEM.
The problem identified was that the current language around STEM education was not resonating with parents and students; STEM is a method of teaching for ALL students, not just the gifted ones. These key insights helped inform communications about STEM programs and design curriculum that address workforce development needs. This publicly released study, “Work to Do: The Role of STEM Education in Improving the Tri-State Region’s Workforce,” served as the roadmap for the Carnegie Science Center’s STEM program.