Post Academic

Is Higher Education Broken? Seth Godin Thinks So.

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools,The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on May 3, 2010

Image SourceAnd who is Seth Godin and who is he to be so mouthy about higher ed? Well, Mr. Godin is one of the premier marketing gurus of the US. Marketing often falls in the category of junk science since so-called “marketing gurus” are so transparent about getting more people to buy more stuff.

That said, Godin knows how to analyze a trend, and he thinks higher education marketing has gone off the rails, especially when it comes to serving the student:

Why do colleges send millions (!) of undifferentiated pieces of junk mail to high school students now? We will waive the admission fee! We have a one page application! Apply! This is some of the most amateur and bland direct mail I’ve ever seen. Why do it?

Biggest reason: So the schools can reject more applicants. The more applicants they reject, the higher they rank in US News and other rankings. And thus the rush to game the rankings continues, which is a sign that the marketers in question (the colleges) are getting desperate for more than their fair share. Why bother making your education more useful if you can more easily make it appear to be more useful?

There is a big difference between being useful and appearing to be useful. However, many colleges and universities appear to have forgotten that difference.

The solution does not lie in the presentation of the education; it lies in the education itself. Now, marketers are all about presentation. That’s how they make a living. Educators should realize that the situation is dire when a marketer is telling them that they need to become useful to students, and they need to become useful in a hurry … or they will lose customers.

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