Several years ago, and I mean in the 80s or early 90s, I read an article by Karl M. Mathews, at the time, president of Southwestern Business College in Palos Hills, Illinois. I can not find a current reference to Mr. Mathews nor Southwestern Business College. I copied the article but forgot to reference from what publication (sorry publisher), and in the course of rereading old articles for possible relevance today, I came across it again.
The statements in this article are as relevant today as they were several years ago in my opinion, so I thought I’d share them with you. Would be great reading for those younger members of our profession who may never have had the opportunity to read what I consider foundation material.
This is the last of three posts. The first myth is The Sacrosanct Lead, the second, Industry Standards, and this, the third, The Comparison Game. I will certainly appreciate any comments.
Myth #3: The Comparison Game
“Have you attended a seminar or training session in which the presenter has lost control to an ‘artful dodger,’ by inviting unrestricted audience participation? I vividly remember one such participant who regaled the group with his ability to fill all his classes each month and graduate between 98 and 99.5 percent of his starts. If that wasn't enough, he had never had a no-show or a graduate fail to become employed. In a matter of minutes, we were forced to change from hip boots to waders when he went on to describe his [4% default rate].
Everyone - at least I hope everyone - in the audience knew this guy had spread enough fertilizer to cover the south forty. When pressed for details he was diplomatically evasive and alluded to such meaningful explanations as ‘industry standards’ and ‘hiring the right people.’ His tirade did little to improve the topic at hand, but it did have an impact on the participants’ mood. For some reason, intelligent, competent people, totally aware that one person was unloading a truck of fertilizer allowed such events to alter their behavior in the strangest ways. Vanity? Who knows.
Participants of this workshop represented a wide variety of schools from almost every corner of the nation. The formal intent of this workshop was to focus on certain techniques to benefit all types of schools. Our colleague’s little dissertation momentarily derailed the intentions of the workshop. Not only did he disrupt and cut short and formal presentation, he profoundly affected the informal discussions later on. Because of one person's action the mood shifted from discussion of the topic at hand to, ‘Well, if he is going to sell his success I’m going to sell mine.’
I have seen people become involved in the comparison game and genuinely become upset. How can you compare schools in different parts of the nation? How can you compare schools with different programs of varying lengths? It’s simple: you can’t, in most cases. Schools vary in enrollment needs, geographical settings, length of student tenure and admission requirements. Schools with short term (9 months or less) programs need to have a high close ratio. Such programs are in a constant state of turnover and cannot afford a series of small beginning classes. Schools operating in sparsely populated locales need to generate more leads to reach their desired enrollment. Bringing in students from vast distances requires a monumental effort. After all, enticing a student to relocate, at a considerable expense, is no easy task. The larger the pool of leads the better your chances are of meeting expectations. Schools with longer terms (over a year and one-half) develop optimum recruiting cycles and are under less pressure to constantly enroll.
By now, it should be apparent that comparisons of admissions numbers result in spurious finding and serve little or no meaningful purpose.
Comments are most welcome. I hope you have enjoyed and benefitted from these posts as much as I have rereading and writing them.
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