Online and onground programs overlapping on the web

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Online and onground programs overlapping on the web

Sarah Eva Krancic
Online and onground programs overlapping on the web Hi all-

Given that the online world is so aggregated, we’re finding it difficult to put out the competing messages (both true) that we have rigorous on-ground curricula that draws top students who chose us over a Ph.D. program, and that “you can complete your degree online in 10 months or less.”

We’re a largish school (1500 students) in a niche market (graduate professional schools of psychology) and we offer master’s and doctoral degrees, and some certificates. This debate has been brewing in our marketing/admissions offices for awhile now...we’re trying to actively maintain/build the accuracy of our reputation as:
  • a non-profit, fully accredited on-ground school that is worth the 5 years of full time study and expense required to earn a Psy.D. Degree
  • AND
  • a respected provider of online master’s and certificate programs

The online student is a whole new market for us, and we’re learning a lot about the radically different strategies that online schools use to recruit students. Many of these strategies aren’t okay with us...paid blogging next to posts about viagra and wrinkle cream, dozens of standalone inquiry forms with stock photos of handsome people at laptops, or advertising copy that positions getting your master’s degree as a quick and easy bargain venture.

According to the feedback from our first admissions cycle, we need something like 5 times as many interested online students to get the same number of actual starts. So, we’re trying to get on more online guides, etc., but we’re concerned that those guides are so aggressive in their marketing efforts (read: dancing babies next to the headline “get your degree online TODAY!”) that they overshadow our main .edu site/message in search engines, etc and impact our reputation. Because these sites operate on a lead delivery model, rather than a listing model like Princeton Review, etc., their priority is actively getting the names and numbers of students, not passively presenting our academic profile for motivated students to research.

So...what’s the balance? Can we hold onto our local reputation for academic excellence while hard selling our online programs? As webmaster, this paradox is really tough—how can our site serve both of these audiences well? Do we try to promote each part of the school differently and pretend like they don’t intersect? I inherited a set up where we have two domains (one .edu, one .net) but they are heavily cross-linked and you can easily get confused about what we actually offer. Yikes.
http://www.thechicagoschool.edu
http://www.thechicagoschoolonline.net

Has anyone successfully walked this line and arrived at an online presence that makes sense to both audiences?
Thanks for any insights...best!
Saraheva


Saraheva Krancic
Director of Online Marketing, Webmaster

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
325 North Wells Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610

312.467.2134
http://www.thechicagoschool.edu

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Re: Online and onground programs overlapping on the web

Darran Hurd
Saraheva Krancic, Director of Online Marketing, Webmaster,

Interesing way to say you have online and grounded classes.  To blend the
two is normally reffered to as having web-enhanced courses.  See if you
can get yourselves on http://www.ivc.illinois.edu/ as they have cross
selling database of available courses and programs in a search-able
context.

Seems people cannot learn anything about you as some pages are blank ...
http://www.thechicagoschool.edu/content.cfm/executive_and_professional_education

which I arrived at from going from your home page to the Site Map to
http://www.thechicagoschool.edu/content.cfm/eportal which I clicked on the
left link choice "Working Professionals" in white text and blue
background.

No content = no applications to admit as you are not selling anything or
making a plea that people can use to determine if they want to take a
class or not.  So seems you need to do a site search first to see what you
are missing.  They also have no way to shop you.

Also the content says what you are; not what you do or what you can do for
the student.  This is a common issue, as somehow marketing on sites
defaults to having a door to the institution so you should inherently want
to come in and apply.  It is what is inside the school that counts and too
many schools some how miss that.  Until you differentiate yourself savvy
students will not be impressed by historic buildings.  Additionally, we
all know ourselves as an institution, but we cannot for some reason tell
you how we help the students and in what ways this is done.  Like I have
said before, schools throw out a set of classes like meat to a table and
you see who takes a bite.  It doesn't matter that your organization knows
that it is good at what it does, you have to show the shopping student you
can get them a job.

As always, I cannot find a college catalog to see the classes you have and
what will be taught.  Then I cannot preview your online class format of
delivery in absence of the catalog, nor do I know you are on Angel until I
use your Site Map.  also when I do get lucky as a student looking to see
if I want to enroll I finally see in the site map that you also cater to
working professionals.  So within the row of colored boxes on every
web-page starting with "About" and ending with "News And events" do you
not show you actually do try to accommodate the most important resource
you are looking to obtain?  These are people with money, possibly employer
sponsored professional development plans, who can pay their way themselves
over using financial aid which delays your institution's cash flows?  That
is great segment to focus upon and you failed on the home-page to show
your attempt to cater to them.  Don't miss out on it.  Especially since
you have no dorms to live in.

Several of your pages also have pop-ups to PDF or other sites, and most
browsers now block that sort of navigation.  Your guide to Chicago is one
of them in PDF.  May want to re-think parts of that advice as looking for
housing in DT Chicago could scare away many students who are about to
shell out a lot of $ for school and books.  Setting up a student housing
location dept could help with that.  especially if you contract out with a
developer DT who is fine with giving a discount if you rotate students
through the developer via a sublease which you subsidize as students don't
follow a regular calendar conforming to 6 or 12 mos.

Darran Hurd
[hidden email]

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