Television Ads for For-Profit Universities Could Backfire Friday, Mar 9 2012 

The standard pitch for the for-profit university industry has been daytime and nighttime television commercials. For-profit colleges often set a cutting-edge standard in terms of business practices and setting the standard for advertising higher education. Television commercials for for-profit universities present a vision of higher education as tech savvy, culturally diverse, flexible, student-centered, and to some extent, a bit hip. Many institutions have improved their focus on serving older students to cater to adults with a one-stop admissions process, personalized counseling, and compressed course terms that are easier for working adults to take on.


Although television advertisements for for-profit universities have seen increasing success in the past decade, recent advertisements have been tainted with lawsuits and complaints over their recruiting practices. For-profit universities have come under recent fire for promising a glittering future after three years without a high school diploma or a GED. For-profit universities spend less than one third of what public universities spend on educating their students, even though the for-profit universities charge nearly twice as much than the public universities for tuition.


Kaplan University, for example, is one among several for-profit colleges whose recruiting tactics are facing scrutiny in court cases and at the U.S. Department of Education, where officials are now weighing new regulations. The same issue could apply to the University of Phoenix, which is spending tens of millions on its own well-regarded, adult-focused ad campaign, using “I am a Phoenix” as its theme. The high cost of education to cover these marketing expenses is putting students in very bad positions financially. Furthermore, the low quality output of these major for-profit institutions is leaving students with little chances of finding any type of gainful employment.


#TwitterCollegeAdmissions Thursday, Mar 8 2012 

Twitter is a quick and easy form of social media that is becoming widely used for admissions departments in non-profit and for-profit universities to advertise to prospective students. When posting a tweet there is a 140 character maximum, so it is an easy way to quickly post something about the school. Twitter is widely used in the 18-34 age group, which appeals to the profit-schools that recruit adults looking to go back to school. At University of Phoenix, “the average age of these students is between 33 and 36 for undergraduate and graduate students respectively” ( Twitter is not as widely used in the high school age and younger age group, with less than 14% of the users. Even though not many high school students use twitter, non-profit universities are still using Twitter as a mode of communication with the students because of the quick, easy, and inexpensive use of Twitter.

Graph of Twitter users ages:

Non-profit universities use Twitter as a medium to connect with prospective students.  The schools tweet and upload pictures on Twitter and try to generate interest and engagement with high school students, with the end goal of the students applying and possibly attending the school. The admissions departments of the non-profit universities use Twitter to advertise different aspects of that make their school different and stand apart from the other schools.

Lori Green, Director of Undergraduate Admission at Loyola University Chicago:

“Twitter actually allows us to reach a larger audience than prospective students alone. I enjoy connecting with current and future students on Twitter, but it’s also been great to network with parents and other members of the higher education community. I try to tweet about topics that are relevant to all of these multiple audiences. I also make an effort to use Twitter as another way of sharing the information I write about in my blog.”

Tulane University’s admissions department (@TulaneAdmission) uses Twitter to engage with prospective students:

-Update prospective students about upcoming events:

-Engage with students

-What sets Tulane apart from other schools!/TulaneAdmission


For-profit universities also use Twitter to attract prospective students. The student base of these schools are very different from for-profit universities:

“Most college students today are older, part-time students with full-time careers and outside responsibilities. These students don’t care about athletics or social organizations. Adult learners are simply not in college for the “experience”. Instead, they want practical, solid skills they can use on the job and to further their careers through promotion and advancement” ( ). The admissions departments for these schools recognize that their prospective students want to further their careers by attending school and use Twitter to show the need for education.

Instead of focusing on the individual attributes of the school, University of Phoenix’s Twitter (@UOPX) to update followers with current news updates and tips for job searches:

-Current news updates with links to articles




-Job search tips



Post by: Maddie Gunter!/TulaneAdmission!/uopx

Universities Embrace Facebook! Thursday, Mar 8 2012 

Why wouldn’t colleges want to advertise on Facebook? Facebook boasts nearly 800 millions users and of that nearly 55% are between the ages of 18 and 34.



Facebook offers side bar ads, increased ad influence with their “like” button, and even allows you to choose who you want to advertise to based on location, age, etc. But is there a difference in the way for profit and non-for profit colleges advertise using the Facebook medium?


            One non-for profit college, University of Kentucky, utilizes Facebook’s new “check in” feature on its campus. The University has two tabs on its campus where students can check in. The idea behind implementing this is that students will check in and have their location broadcast to all of their Facebook friends (hopefully some still in highs school deciding on colleges). Students check in at sporting events, classrooms and other places.


            Other non- for profit colleges, including Tulane University, have their own Facebook pages with information regarding the school and they allow students to post about the university. The page can allow people to say they studied there, worked there, and even went to grad school there. This information shows up on someone’s basic information when you search for him or her, allowing for the maximum number of people to be exposed to the name of the university without even realizing it. Students can also write statuses about the many activities going on around campus (Crawfest, USG elections, etc) and tag Tulane University in the post.




            For profit colleges such as University of Phoenix also utilize Facebook pages where people can like the page. While these for profit universities might have more likes on their page, they cannot rely on some of the aspects that non-for profit universities can. For profit colleges tend to not have athletics and on campus events such as Crawfest at Tulane. The Universities’ page is chalk filled with posts that it writes about itself, but it does not have the same personal aspect that Tulane’s page does with all the student posts about the University activities they are participating in. While for profit universities’ facebook pages may be larger in their likes, non-for profit universities have a more personal connection to show its viewers and potential students.



Posted by Margaret Roberts 

Welcome to Our Home(Page). Thursday, Mar 8 2012 

During the student recruiting process, a college or university’s admissions website is a crucial element. It is often one of (if not the) first points of contact that a student (and often his or her parents/guardians as well) has with the school. After logging on to numerous home pages for both typical and for-profit colleges and universities, the differences were substantial.

For the typical college or university, prospective students often look for the the admissions home page, which serves as an important touch point, used to draw the student in to wanting to learn more about the school, and eventually to apply for admission. Often, the site highlights the unique attributes of the school and its students.

Often, the websites will have videos of students saying why they love their college/university, and provide facts about the school (usually including the school’s ranking on some list).

In essence, they are trying to show the student why THIS SCHOOL is the one he or she wants to go to. They try to attract students by their unique elements, often trying to explain why the college or university belongs on the prospective student’s list of schools to visit and/or apply to.

Many of the schools even have blogs written by students, as a way to market the school, and let prospectives get a feel of what it would like to be a student there.

For for-profit universities, websites seem to be more about getting information about the prospective student. While the home page often tries to evoke emotions related to getting a degree:

…it appears that the main goal is to get the potential student’s contact information. As the video College, Inc. demonstrated, for-profit universities view their call centers as a crucial element to achieve high enrollment numbers. And after watching the video, and then visiting the home pages of several for-profit universities, it was quite obvious that the websites are designed to get as much information from prospective students, in order to be able to call them personally and persuade them to enroll.

The first attempt is a banner at the top of the homepage telling the potential student that he or she can “talk to an advisor” (or similar phrases) by calling the number…trying to get the prospective to dial the phone on his or her own.

If that does not work, submitting information to “learn more” (or similar phrases) requires the prospective student to fill in his or her personal information (phone number, address, etc), which will allow the university to then continuously call, email, mail, etc. the student in the hopes of persuading him or her to enroll.


So while a college or university’s website is a crucial element in its recruiting process, it seems that typical universities and colleges take a much different approach to marketing on their home pages, than for-profit universities and colleges. The question is, which would you prefer?

Posted by Amanda Zingone



Sources (in order of appearance):

You’ve Got E-mail Wednesday, Mar 7 2012 

In the college recruiting process, schools often flood prospective students’s inboxes with tactics to spur interest.  Schools get this information from Educational Testing Service (ETS), the National Research Center for College & University Admissions™ (NRCCUA®), the American College Testing Program (ACT) and a variety of other sources.  So how do colleges know which students to recruit?  Colleges choose the academically qualified students to send e-mails to, knowing well that it needs to be distinctive to be noticed.

Colleges make prospective students feel special in several different ways.  First, a college will personalize the e-mail and address it directly to the student with his or her preferred name.  Next, the college will invite them to an on-campus event, which could really just be taking a tour.  Furthermore, colleges will tell them they are getting a “free” or “exclusive” application, when in reality it is the same application for everyone.  Lastly, the college might try to cater the e-mail specific to interests the student lists on a standardized test or forms.

Here is an example from Tulane…


So what’s the difference between For-Profit College e-mails and typical colleges?  For-Profit College e-mails emphasize urgency.  Enrollment at for-profit colleges grew greatly during the recession, but now enrollment is down and recruiting is increasing to continue profits.  Undergraduate new-student enrollment fell 25.6% at DeVry University, a for-profit college, in the quarter ended June 30 2011.  Recruiters will use any tactics possible to secure an e-mail address and flood one’s inbox with e-mails to entice prospective students.  The e-mails could say they have a nursing degree, when in reality the “degree” is just an associate’s program and certifies people to draw blood.  The e-mails are frequent and often misleading.

Example of a For-Profit College E-mail


E-mails sent from for-profit colleges are different than typical colleges because they are for the benefit of the school, as opposed to the benefit of the student.  In the long run, students should want to go to college to better themselves in education and continue their careers, not be enticed by false advertisement.

Sources Used:

Posted by Elisabeth Whitehead