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Jeff Chin: Welcome everyone and thank you for joining Gray's monthly webcast on the most recent student and employer demand trend in higher education. This is our January 2019 edition. All the trends we will be revealing this afternoon are derived from our program evaluation system. This supports the academic review process at all colleges and universities across the country.
Before I pass you over to our CEO, Bob Atkins, a couple of quick housekeeping items. Please feel free to share any questions with us in the chat window on the left-hand side of the page. We will be sure to answer any and all questions at the end of today's webcast. Lastly, a copy of the presentation as well as the recording will be delivered to all registrants via email. Without any more delay, here's Bob.
Bob Atkins: Thank you very much, Jeff, and welcome to the Gray Associates monthly webinar on demand trends in higher education. This month we'll be sharing results through December 2018. We'll be bouncing back and forth between the results for December itself and the results for the full year, 2018.
Who is Gray?
Let's see, for those of you who don't know Gray, let me you give you a very brief introduction and then we'll get on to the information we're going to share today. Gray is a strategy consulting firm focused on higher education, both institutions and stakeholders in the space. But most of our clients are colleges and universities, both public, private and for-profit in the higher ed space. So, what do we do? Well most of our work is founded on data that we’ve collected in response to our clients’ interest in better understanding programs and the markets for those programs. So we collect data on student demand, competition, employment, wages, placement rates, demographics, and employer requirements, that is skills and knowledge required to do a job. And we put that all in a system so that we can very quickly look at an individual program in a specific city and understand what student demand will be for that, how much competition there is, and whether there'll be jobs and a decent wage waiting for graduates when they get out.
We use that information for a variety of purposes. The first and most obvious is to help clients decide what programs to start, stop, sustain, or grow. We also do work on helping clients decide where to offer programs or to locate campuses. We can do that by market for over 300 markets in the US, so you could see where your medical assisting program may have the best opportunity for growth. If we look at price, we use some of this data, but tend to do that more on surveys, using discrete choice models to estimate price elasticity for our clients so they can understand whether if they drop their price or increase their scholarships, or for that matter increase scholarships or add fees, what the effect will be on enrollment and on the revenue, and ultimately the margins generated by their students.
And finally, we do all sorts of projects for our clients that require complex analysis and business strategy, often leveraging all or part of this data.
So let's have a look at what we found. First, we'll start with national, then we'll get more granular. We'll do that all on our inquiry data. I'll talk to you a little bit more about what an inquiry is. Then we'll switch over to a different data source to see what's going on and make sure that the inquiry data is giving us a valid read; for that, we'll look at Google Search Trends. And we'll look by program, brand, and see what's up and what's down.
Finally, we'll take a look at one program in a little bit more depth. This month we've chosen mental health counseling, which turns out to be one of the fastest growing programs in the US in terms of inquiry volume growth. And we'll look at that in two ways: one is for the program itself and how attractive it is, and second, I will look at a market analysis and identify the cities in which that program may be a good fit. And finally, we'll summarize and share with you an upcoming schedule of webinars that we have I think you'll find very exciting.
Overall Student Inquiries (All Sources)
So, what's been going on. Well, we've been tracking this data now for five years and in this webinar, we share the data for the last three years. We do that using these bar charts. So, let me just take a moment and explain the bars. The blue bar in the back is 2016, the green bar in the middle is 2017, and the red bar towards the front is 2018. So, the red bars higher than the green bar, 2018 number are better than 2017 and so forth that the green is higher than the blue it's better.
Unfortunately, through the whole first half of this year, the red bars were below last year, coming through June. We only had one month where we actually beat last year in the first six months of this year. That turned around in July and we met or beat last year every month for the last six months of 2018 and I'm happy to report that December ended strong. It was up 9% year over year, which is one of the strongest uptakes we've ever seen. And I should say that, you know, prior to 2018, we hadn't seen an uptake in five years so this whole story is just much, much better than it had been as recently as a year ago. So, I think it suggests that at a minimum the decline in interest in higher ed has slowed and may even have turned around.
Now as you'll see a little bit later, it's a more nuanced story than that. So, before you take that to the bank, if you will, let's have a look at how that breaks down for example between online and on ground.
Student Inquiry Conversions (All Sources)
So, we have another issue and that is that conversions recently had not been keeping up with the growth in inquiries. So, before I dive into this, let me take moment and just explain what a conversion is. And also, for those of you who aren't familiar with it all, I'll explain what an inquiry is as well.
So, the folks who advertise on the internet for higher education programs, if you went on now and looked up say nursing programs or nursing education, you'd see a few schools right at the top and then if you look carefully, you'll see one that says, you know, explore a career in nursing. If you went into that site, the site would ask you for name, address, phone number, and what kind of nursing program you're interested in. And they take information and sell it to a school that had a nursing program. And we get information from those sources about the volume of students who've inquired, where they're physically located, which we can track down to the census track level. It's about twice as precise as a ZIP code so we can physically see where demand is coming from. We also get by degree level the individual's interested in and that trend's status and a handful of other -- oh, whether they want it online or on the ground is another important dimension. So, what we'll share in a moment is the split and the growth rates for online. People were interested in online versus on the ground programs.
So that's an inquiry. Now when we talk about a conversion, a conversion takes place in the month in which the inquiry was received. So, if you guys know, typically somebody who comes in and inquiries about a program, isn't actually gonna turn into an application or proceed further in the process potentially for months. But when they finally do that, we call that a conversion and it's recorded back in the month in which the inquiry was received. So, somebody who, you know, fills out an application in December, but inquired in September, will be recorded as a September conversion. That is the conversion of a September inquiry. I hope that makes sense. It confused the life out of me for a long time.
As you can see here, conversions have been down for the last few months, despite the growth in inquiries. So that's a bit concerning, and September was actually down 6% year over year. Now, the good news is if you look at the bars for October, November, and December, October has already beaten last year, November's ahead of last year and December's pretty close to last year. So, I think this downward trend in inquiries has passed, excuse me, in conversions has passed. And we're gonna start to see more of that incremental inquiry volume flow through as incremental conversions as we move forward.
That's very good news cause as you know, an inquiry is one thing, until it converts it really has no value at all. So, it's increase conversions that really gives us a more solid indicator of how many students are actually going to start in school.
Average Price for Pay-per-Inquiry
Of course, you'd expect that as those conversions went up, we'd be paying more and indeed we are. If you look at October, November, and December, rates have been up towards the higher end of their range. We peaked in this number actually at $50 back in August, it dropped down a bit and then started an upward trend in October and continued that. We're up 1.8% overall, year over year and up a little bit -- I'm sorry, actually December's down a little bit. I misspoke. The year itself and you know it looks as though we're plateauing around $50 per inquiry. We'll see if that's sustained over time.
Now, let's take a look at the split between online and on the ground.
Inquiries for Online Programs
Online inquiries' growth was very strong. It's been up almost every month this year and it finished strong at 9%. So, we've got 6.2% overall growth and 9% in December so for those who may think that online has peaked, this data would suggest that hasn't yet and that there's still some good times left ahead of us in online.
Inquiries for On-Campus Programs
On campus unfortunately is a different story. This number's been going down continuously for five years. We got optimistic when October and November finally beat the year before, but then December returned to trend and drop 6.5%. So overall last year, we saw an 8.3% decline in inquiries for on the ground programs. Again, a brief bump up in October, November, followed by a sharp drop again in December. Now I should point out that there's probably a little bit of a skew in the inquiry database because there tends to be people who are looking for a program that's fairly closely associated with a career. So when they search, they're not searching for college, they're searching for particular academic program and that's gonna skew, we believe, a little bit online in terms of the kinds of programs people are interested, because many of these folks are adult learners and they don't have time or a schedule to permit them to go to [00:11:09 - inaudible], you know, classes in and on ground locations. So, again, maybe a little bit of a skew here away from on-campus in terms of the audience, but still this trend is not looking very healthy here in terms of interest in on ground.
Now let's break this down and have a look at it by program, degree, and city.
The Big 5 Programs
First, it seems everybody wants to be a policeman. We've got 26% growth in criminal justice. Unfortunately, when we've looked at this field, the jobs on the other side are just not there to support large volumes of criminal justice graduates. So, well there's a sweet spot in offering bachelor's and more advanced degrees to people who are already policemen for example. For those who are not, it's a very tough field in which to get employed in most markets, it does vary by market.
Healthcare administration was up, registered nursing was up. And then we had two of the biggest programs that fell: business administration and medical assisting. Business administration is really a worry. I mean you're looking at I think the biggest program in the United States, down 6% and it's hard for the entire sector to be healthy if interest in business programs tails off. The other one that I found interesting and have been watching for several years is medical assisting. So, when we started looking at this program, it was enormous. There were over 250,000 completions a year and interest was still growing. And medical assisting looked like it was the on-ramp for many people to employment, particularly in under-served neighborhoods and in communities. This was an affordable degree, it was short, and there were jobs for most people at the end of it. That environment has changed dramatically, primarily not the job market actually, but the interest in medical assisting programs. This program has been dropping by double digits in our inquiry database, now for three or four years. Some of that can be attributed to the closure of major for-profit organizations, many of whom had very large medical assisting programs.
So, from that 250,000 number two years ago, I was looking today, last year 81,000 people graduated from medical assisting programs, so it has declined almost 60% from peak and it continues to decline to this data. In contrast, jobs for medical assistants are relatively healthy. There are over 1.1 million job postings, excuse me, 1.1 million people employed in this field. Over 100,000 job postings a year and now there are 2.8 job postings from every person who graduates from a medical assisting program. So, I think we're headed up to a point there's actually gonna be a shortage of medical assistants from an employment standpoint, but relatively little interest in going into the program. There is a reason for this by the way. The pay for a medical assistant is not great when they start. They're talking high 20,000s. But still for those who are looking to find a way into the economy, pretty good program and one that I think is declining faster than probably is healthy for all of us, who may need somebody in a doctor's office to help us out.
The Fast 5 Programs
Now let's take a look at the fastest growing programs. Here we have health represented twice and they're both repeats so strong growth there. Web page, elementary education, graphic design all up. And the growth in the elementary education's interesting as we'll see in a little while, that growth is not consistent across all education programs by a long shot. We have some that are declining and even this one has been up and down recently.
But one of the we'll focus on later on is mental health counseling/counselor and take a deeper look at that. Obviously, one month of rapid growth is not something you wanna use to pick a program. So, we'll give you a variety of other data on that program at the national level, so you get a sense of whether that might be an attractive thing for you all to explore.
The Big 5 Cities
Now let's take a look at the Big 5 Cities. First, I think it's worth a little bit of context. Let's focus on the blue bars on this chart. One year ago, all five major cities were down, most of them by double digits. So, in looking at this carefully, you can see New York was down 15% last year, the blue bar. Houston down 8%, LA down 9%, Philly and Chicago both down over 15%, very negative figures. So, this year growth is actually a huge turnaround. New York is up 4%, Houston up over 20%, LA up 15%, and Chicago up 17%. We still saw a decline in Philadelphia unfortunately. But this is a major turnaround, something we haven't seen in the data for a very long time, if ever. So, it makes me cautiously optimistic that there really is interest out there in going to school.
Inquiry Volumes by Degree
Now, let's look at that interest by degree level and here you can see it's basically across all degree levels this month. It tends to be somewhat higher recently in the higher-level degrees. So, you see growth in doctor's degrees, masters and bachelor's being a little bit faster than associates. It does vary from month to month. And you can see one area here that shrank was undergraduate certificates had a 7% drop, but other than that, we see double digit growth across all degree levels for inquiries.
Inquiries: Year-Over-Year Inquiries by State
Now, where is that happening. The growth is happening really fundamentally in the Midwest, you can see a stripe running down, north, south and the Midwest. The darker colors are areas where the growth is faster in terms of inquiries for programs. You'll also pick up down here, let's see, Arizona and New Mexico, down in the lower left. And we've got Delaware, which actually hit the fastest growth rate of all of the places that we track. So, there's a little bit of a [00:17:12 - INAUDIBLE] in the East Coast, but by and large growth tends to be in more rural states. West Virginia you can see is dark, Maine is dark, and then we have a little bit of exception over here in Maryland and Virginia.
Now let's shift over and look at Google and see if Google confirms the trends that we've seen or adds additional insight.
Google Search Trends: Programs
First, what do we to track Google? We keep track of the 200 largest programs in higher education. They constitute 67% of all IPED's completions. And for each program we track approximately 25 keywords. Some don't really have 25 to keep track so we do a few less. As we've looked at this over time, you'll recall we had trouble in our inquiry data back in the first six months of the year it was going down. Google was too for all those months, you can see here, January through June Google was down every month. That began to turn around in July and we ended the year up and December ended up more than the average, increasing 8%. So, like our inquiry data, Google searches for academic programs suggests that there's rising interest at last in going into higher ed.
Now, that's not universal. There's some programs that we track that saw very rapid declines. Special ed in particular and elementary education and teaching were amongst the weaker so that education sector does have some issues. We've got two science programs here that didn't do well: chemistry and physics. People must not be looking for such challenging programs. And then we kinda have an assortment in advertising, fashion merchandising, commercial and advertising art, and bible/biblical studies all took a hit last month.
Now there's one here that I found interesting, which is computer programming/programmer, down 21%. That's the first sign I've seen of weakness in interest in computer programming, either by employers or students so I'm a little skeptical of the data, but also, it's something to keep an eye on. It's possible we've passed some peak here. I wouldn't say that's at all certain given one month of trends, but as I say, it's something to keep an eye on. It may be that the peak of interest in getting programming education has come and gone. Though, I think that's frankly unlikely. We'll be keeping an eye on it over the next few months.
Google Search Trends: Brands
December we also tracked Google brand searches. Now you might well ask, What's a brand search? In this case we keep track of 75 higher education brands, so things like Harvard and University of Southern California are in our brand database. We have been looking at this for some time and it's been diverging from the other data, which is interesting.
Now, it is measuring something that's fundamentally different than the program data. So, when somebody searches for a program, they've kind of already got their mind set on their major. They may even already be thinking about the career that they're gonna get after they go through college.
So, when they go on a search they're searching for a program and looking at the schools that offer that program. When they come in on a brand search it is often a different type of student and it's certainly a different type of selection process. Therein you're actually saying, 'I wanna look at these colleges'. And they may not have even thought about what major they wanna have yet. So, this is what we think of as a student who gonna make their decision college first, versus a student who's gonna make their decision program first.
So, as I say, it's slightly a different audience and this one is not as healthy as the program demand. So, we see an 8% decline in December and the whole year's been a little bit up and down. We had a brief uptick in August and September, more or less flat in October, and then both November and December drop very substantially. So overall for the year it was down 4.4% but December and November both dropped faster than that. So, this is one divergent metric. I think the others would make us fairly optimistic about student demands, but this one, not so much.
What are the fastest growing brands? I think there are actually two things here. So, we're tracking Google searches for each of these brands and about 60 others. Some of these though, Virginia College, SJAVC San Joaquin Valley College, Carrington College are all involved in some sort of re-structuring, so I suspect that its searches caused by that restructuring that may be causing very rapid growth.
For example, at Virginia College which is actually being shut down. It's was a subsidiary of Education Corporation of America, ECA. ECA went bankrupt a month or two ago and I suspect much of the search volume is actually people looking for Virginia College because of the bankruptcy as opposed to because they're interested in going there. Certainly, it's not even possible to go there right now. So, you have to be aware that with any kind of Google search volume that you're going to get a little bit of overlap between searches by students and searches by others who have an interest in that particular university.
After that you see, UT Austin. SNHU comes in very high here, this is a school that now has over 100,000 students and we're looking both at searches for the SNHU brand as well as for College for America, their competency-based training institution. And then we have West Coast University, Lehigh, Remington, and then down toward the bottom, my favorite, Harvard, still holding in there at 13% growth in inquiry volume. Also, when we look at total volume they tend to come out towards the very top in terms of total volume of search as well as growth. My alma mater's hanging in there. Then towards the bottom, some other interesting names, Western Michigan University for the first time with 10% growth.
Now let's take a look at one program. We mentioned earlier that the interest in mental health counseling those inquiries were up 140%. So, let's have a look at the program in a little bit more depth and understand what's going on there.
Program Sustainability: An Integrated View
When we evaluate a program, we like to look at four dimensions for that program: the market, program economics -- does the program make or lose money and how much? --, institutional mission -- does it fit with the school's mission? --, and academic standards -- is it performing at a level that's appropriate for that school? So, what we're gonna focus on today is just the program market element of this and have a look at the data that you can gather to understand if the market for a program is attractive.
When we look those markets, we break it down into four chunks: student demand, employment, competitive intensity, and degree fit. Degree fit is what level of degree is required for the student to be successful on graduation.
Program Markets: Program Rank
So, when we do that, once we add up the scoring, we can actually score every program in IPEDs and that's what we've done here. We're using the national data set, so we've ranked programs according to the attractiveness in the national market of that program. The maximum score that any program received in this particular scoring system was 43 and I scrolled down through our system a way to get to medical health counseling, which did well, but not at the very top of the list, with a score of 32. And you can see other programs that did well here. For example, nursing practice, public administration and so forth, were all programs that scored well, although there's about a page of additional programs that did better than this particular group. But 32's not a bad score.
Program Scorecard: Student Demand
Now let's dive in and look at this in a little bit more depth. When you think about student demand, we look at three data sets, inquiries, Google Searches, and completions. In this particular instance, you can see that there were 18,230 inquiries for this particular program. Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with inquiries, you might well say, 'Well is that a lot of inquiries or not?' and I am familiar with inquiries and I don't know the answer to that question off the top of my head either. And that is why we color code each of these metrics. And you can see this one is in a medium green, and that means it's at the 95th percentile of all 1400 IPEDs programs that we keep track of. So, this is one of the about 100 programs that score highest in our system on this particular metric.
And interestingly you can see that's it's dark green on all the inquiry metrics associated with volume, it's got a very high volume of online inquiries and the unit change in inquiry volume is substantial at 2162. All three of those metrics are in the top 5% of all our programs that we keep track of. The 13.5% growth rate is not so great, there tend to be some small programs that really are the highest percentage growers but for most of us 13.5% growth in a program is very, very good.
Google search volume, it's only at the 70th percentile but unit change in Google searches is also at the 95th percentile. So, we've got two measures that say this program is growing very rapidly. And again about 12.5% growth in Google search volumes so really those two metrics are quite consistent with each other. And the Google search volumes not bad, it's in the 70th percentile but it's as high as inquiry volume.
And then completions also confirming the trend, about 70th percentile in terms of program size. But good solid growth numbers, up 558, in the top 5% of our programs and the percent change is up 10%.
So, when I look at this, I think you can fairly say this a reasonably large program, not the biggest, but at least it's at the 70th percentile or better. But it is a very fast-growing program, amongst the 5% of programs growing fastest in our system on the unit basis. And it's doing well on a percentage basis, again, 70th percentile across all three. So, it's actually somewhat unusual to get this kind of consistency across all three of our databases. So, I would say that you can be fairly confident that this is a reasonably program that is growing at a good clip.
Program Scorecard: Competition
Now the question then becomes, okay, how intense is the competition in this space? And the answer from what we can see here is not all that competitive. We've got 210 institutions who offer the program, you know, and that's amongst the most attractive 10% of all programs. That's not really that many institutions across the US. I apologize, I've obscured the number here. There were 21 schools who entered this field last year and that's not so great, obviously, when you see everybody and their brother jumping into a space will give you little bit of pause in terms of its attractiveness.
But cause for inquiry is medium green as is cost per click in the competitive index so those metrics would suggest this isn't all that competitive a market yet. If it were, people would've driven up the cost for inquiry higher than the average. You'll recall from our earlier chart the average is now at about $47. So, this is actually slightly below average in terms of cost per inquiry. It's also attractive in terms of cost per click on Google at $9 per click. So, we've got a few metrics here that are saying it's competitive but it's not all that competitive.
There's one other important thing to notice here and that is the National Distance Education statistic. 8% of the 210 institutions who offer this program offer it wholly or in part online. That 8% of institutions however are now getting 25% of all completions so they're punching at three times above their weight. So, I look at this and say, online is taking share and taking share at a pretty good clip from on the ground. So, if I had this program, I'd be concerned that I'm gonna have to compete against those online institutions, many of whom are very large and very sophisticated. If I were thinking of offering it, I would certainly wanna make sure that my offer included an on the ground component or it might be left behind.
Program Scorecard: Employment & Degree Fit
Now, the other concern folks have, especially those who are still covered to one extent or another by gainful employment, is will my graduates from the program get a job? So, we keep track of job posting data as well as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on total employment and job openings. And the job postings here are reasonably healthy, at 70th percentile. You'll recall completions were about the 70th percentile too so they're reasonably well aligned. Growth is good at 1900 incremental job postings last year, that's up 13%. Job postings per grad, again I apologize for overshadowing it, that's 2.7 there. And that means there's 2.7 job postings for every graduate that completes the course. Do remember that many of those job postings can be filled by people who may already be in the field. So not every job is truly available for each graduate and that's why the color coding here matters. This actually compares it to other programs. And 2.7 says it's about the 70th percentile in terms of job postings per graduate. So that's a healthy number, but not a fantastic one.
Total employment is good and then we've got some numbers here I really wanna emphasize, which is year over year changes in employment according to BLS and I'll tell you why we track these numbers. But you can see five years of growth rate, the annual growth rate is average 6.4%. Over the last three years it's actually accelerated, 9.3%. And then it slowed a little bit year over year to 7.6%, but still a very healthy growth rate in employment for mental health counselors.
Now, the reason I point this out is many of you and certainly we in the past have depended heavily on BLS's ten-year growth projections. Unfortunately, we did a back test on those and found that the growth projections were off, to put it mildly. 85% of those projections were off by 50% or more. This is a good example. BLS estimated that the growth in this field would be 1.9% over the ten years, which was starting about two years ago. Reality was it grew you know between 6 and 9% over the last five years so they got it wrong, and they got it wrong by quite a lot. And I suspect that the error will continue for some time since they won't re-project that for a while and I don't see any reason why the growth in this field would slow.
The catch for this particular field, however, is not the number of jobs, it’s what people get paid who go into the field. And wages, especially for a program that often requires a graduate degree in order to practice are very low, you've got a $30,000, 10th percentile BLS wage. For people under 30 who are picked up in the American Community Survey we see wages of only 34,000 and even mid-career in this field it's only a $65,000 paycheck so this is not a particularly attractive field if you're interested in making money. Of course, many of the people who go into the mental health profession aren't really motivated by the money, they're motivated by helping people. But still I think it's worthy of note because they still are gonna have to pay off their student loans and that's gonna be a bit of a challenge at these wage rates.
Program Markets: Program Scorecard
Finally, we put all this together in a one-page scorecard, so you have all the data that you might be interested in in order to make a decision about a program. And I'll point out one other element of this that's important, which is what degree level's appropriate for this program. And down towards the bottom of the sheet, you see a highlighted master's degrees, with 88% of our inquiries were for master's degrees. 93% of completions are at that level and that's the same for national, cause I'm looking at the national data. We look at job postings first. Most people don't specify an education level, but the largest single education level cited was 19%, also for master's degrees. And in terms of educational attainment of people who actually work in the field, 52% of the people in this field have a master's degree, again makes me concerned about the wage level for somebody who's gone to that kind of advanced training.
Now let's just briefly look at where this program might be most attractive.
Offering Mental Health Counseling
Here again we use scoring to tell and it turns out that Grand Rapids has the most need for mental health counselors, I'm not sure what that says about their mental health, but you know, who's to judge. Followed closely by Texas and Las Vegas.
Now, I'm not gonna spend a lot of time on that. For this particular analysis, we can break it down by city. Again, giving a scorecard that gives you a sense of for that city, how much opportunity is there for the program and this turns out to be a reasonably market in Boston for that particular program.
Now let's take a moment and just summarize what we've learned.
Key Demand Trends and Observations
First, the good news is that total inquiries increased in 2018 by 1.7% for the first time since we've been tracking them. In December total inquiries rose again this time by 9%. Unfortunately, on the ground didn't keep up the upward trend, they actually declined a little bit. And then the inquiry data, Delaware and the Midwest saw the biggest year over year increases in inquiries. One or two other points in the Google data, first, the Google data in general will confirm the inquiry data in terms of market growth, expect for branded Google search where there was a decline. Those folks who are looking for college first, there may be a bit of an issue in terms of demand in that particular sector. Mental health counseling looks pretty good. Inquiry volume was up, student demand, competition and jobs were all favorable, but keep in mind that nationwide wages for that profession are quite low.
As always, we wanna remind that making good decisions about programs is heavily dependent on having good market data about those programs. Otherwise you may very well enter a field in which you'll find no students or no jobs for your graduates or very, very heavy competition that drives up your cost of admitting students or simply keeps your classroom sizes too low to be viable. So, it's very important to have that market data as you go forward.
Program Portfolio Optimization
And as we think about this, our mission really is to help all of you make better program decisions. And to that end, we wanted to offer a series of webinars and there's six you see here, and they'll be taking place over the next six months. The first one will be program webinar in understanding student demand and we'll share the data sources we use, how to get them, and how to use them and what their issues are so you understand all the metrics that we can figure out to collect on how many students are interested in a given academic program.
Second, we'll help ya understand how to assess employer needs. Again, what data's available, what the issues are with that data, and importantly the skills may need and the wages they'll earn when they get out. Then we take a look at competitive intensity and help you understand how to assess the number, size, and power of your program's competitors in your local market.
Of course, one of the emerging areas here that people are having to keep track of is the economics of their programs. Historically, you know, the number of students seem to be a good enough estimate, but that as we've found as we've done program economics for our clients, really is in incomplete picture and you'll find some real outliers in terms of faculty application. And in one case, the normal faculty member carried about nine credit hours a semester and in this particular school in the department, there was one professor who happened to be carrying about 15 credit hour equivalent courses. So significantly overburdened relative to his colleagues, not on purpose, but simply because people weren't keeping track.
And of course, that changes the economics of programs as well and I think that it's important when you think about economics to remember most of you are not in this business to make money. We offer higher education for a variety of other purposes, social, personal growth, and so forth. But nonetheless, we need to make sure that we have the money we need in order to run the institution and in particular to fund smaller but mission critical programs that the school may need to offer. And to do that you need to understand which programs make money so that you can make sure you have enough money to subsidize the programs that don't and that are still important to offer to your students.
So now you have a lot of data, some way or another you gotta get the people together and run a process in which they can make decisions efficiently and make the right decisions importantly. So, we'll share with you a process that we've developed and tested now in, gosh, over 100 institutions, where we've facilitated discussions among faculty and administrators, actually running workshops with them, and help them collaboratively make decisions on what programs to start, stop, sustain, or grow. And we've found this process, first of all, very well received by our clients. And importantly it not only gets decisions made, in that process it strengthens the ties among faculty and administration. And from what we hear in the industry, typically program decisions are a bit divisive, especially if you have to cut any programs. And there's really no need for that. If you run the right process and bring the right data folks can reach agreement and act as stewards to the institutions as they need to, and especially in many smaller colleges where there's a real struggle to survive financially.
Once you've figured how to make one set of decisions, obviously you need an ongoing process. You need to integrate the data and sustain the process for evaluating programs. So, in our final session we'll talk about how to create an integrated program scorecard that pulls together data on the academic performance, the financial performance, and market attractiveness for an individual program as well as its fit with your mission. And how to run a review process that's frequent enough and can make sure that you're making progress, especially on programs you have that either have the opportunity to grow that you're starting up or that need to be fixed.
What's the schedule for those? I've got it here on the screen. We'll run one on February 14th for Student Demand, Employer Needs will be March 7th, Competitive Intensity - April 11th, Program Economics - May 16th, How to Engage Your Constituencies and Make Decisions - June 13th, and finally How to Integrate and Sustain the Process - July 18th. So that's a special series of webinars we'll be running to help you all develop better processes for running your program evaluations.
And last but not least, in this cavalcade of webinars, we'll have our February webcast on general industry results on February 28th. All of our webinars are held on Thursdays at 2:00pm Eastern Standard Time.
Thank you all very much for joining me today. Let me turn it over to the floor for any questions you all may have.
We have no questions in so far. If you do have a question, please feel free to type it on the left-hand side in the chat box and we can answer those as they come in. Alternatively, if you do think of something later, feel free to email any of us here at Gray. If you go to the website, you see on the screen you should be able to find Bob all the way down to our analysts' emails if you have any specific questions or even questions about some of the upcoming webinars in terms of any of that data that we'll be covering if you can't make one of those.
We do have a question: Bob, do you handle the crosswalk between SOC and CIP?
Now there's somebody who understands the guts of this kind of analysis. The question was: how do you handle the crosswalks between academic programs and jobs? So that's between CIPs and SOCs, for those of you who know the acronyms. So very important question because for those who don't live in this stuff, a program doesn't often neatly align with a job. Some do, some don't.
So, for example, people who take nursing programs generally become nurses. That's fine, it's pretty straightforward and the academic program aligns pretty well with an occupation. On the other hand, people who are history majors almost all of those folks are not going to go into a field related to history. 11% of them for example become lawyers. So simply saying because it's history, I'm gonna go into a field that's related to that is really significantly incorrect.
So, what we've done is we've used a variety of external data sources to crosswalk, that is align, the number of people graduating from academic programs with the number of jobs available for graduates. And one of those sources is the American Community Survey and that tells us for bachelor's degree graduates, what fields they actually go into after graduation at whatever their age. So, we keep track of that at under 30 and over 30 and we have a crosswalk to align the graduates with jobs that they may have gone into and we allocate it based on percentage that go into each field. So, as I mentioned for history, we actually have that aligned with generalist jobs such as law and other fields that they will go into later on.
Now, I think that's most of the answer to that question, I'm trying to think, is there anything else I missed [00:43:55 - INAUDIBLE] about it? Oh, I'm sorry, oh yeah, I kinda did. At the associate’s level, we use data on skill requirements in order to figure out which jobs go with which programs. So, we actually do that -- both are data driven. I think you'll find most crosswalks that people use are not data driven, they're judgement driven, and they have severe shortcomings because it's very difficult to guess what jobs people actually go into after they graduate.
Yeah, we have another question from Karen: did you say you would recommend an on ground offering for mental health counseling as well as the online [00:44:40 - INAUDIBLE] more inquiries for online, to not be left behind.
Yeah, I said I'd be careful to make sure I had an online offering potentially as well as an on the ground offering because it looks as though the field is shifting from on the ground to online. That said, I would not launch any based on you've seen today. Each of you live in local markets and before I launched a program, I'd wanna make sure I looked at the statistics for the local market to make sure that you have enough demand in your local city or town to support the program. So, careful, in other words. You need a little bit more data than we present in these webinars in order to make decisions like that.
We have another question from Lita: I saw under BLS/ACS direct prep jobs and also general opening, what is the difference and what is the data?
Okay so, this goes back a little bit to the crosswalk discussion, the question is -- What is the difference if you looked at a scorecard between a direct prep job and a generalist job. So, a direct prep job is a job for which a person's degree directly prepares them for the work. So, nursing programs and nurses, you know, a nursing program directly prepares you to become a nurse. But some nurses don't go into nursing. And as I mentioned history majors by and large don't go into any field for which they're directly prepared. So, if you look at the direct prep jobs available for history majors, they're very, very few and they're only in four fields: history teacher, secondary school teacher, historian, and manager, other. And there're very few jobs in those four fields, but if you look at history majors, some 95% of them go into other fields and that's because many fields may require a degree, but the employers don't really care much what the degree is in. So, for example, I graduated from Harvard and took my undergraduate degree and went into retail. The retailers did care that I had a college degree, but they didn't care that my degree happened to be in Modern European History as I recall. So, it didn't really matter what I had graduated in and those are the generalist jobs, where somebody with any degree could come in and do the work. Turns out I was very well prepared to lift boxes full of shoes.
We have another question, it's from Dale: is price per inquiry just based on a pay per resource or does that factor in other marketing/advertising cost?
The price per inquiry is only the PPL, pay per lead, portion of the cost. So, for example, if you ran a TV ad in order to stimulate demand and then they showed up through the pay per lead channel, we would not know the cost, the TV advertising would not be included in that number. It's strictly the amount that the inquiry providers charge to buy their inquiries.
Great questions. Anything else?
Well thank you very much for your time today. We really appreciate it. I wanna leave you thinking about joining our later webinars, where I think you'll really learn some innovative best practices in how to evaluate your program portfolio. So, I hope you'll be joining us over the coming months and if you would like this list and you wanna share it with your colleagues, please do. Many folks, it may even be worthwhile to join as a group and come on. Of course, the webinars are free, and I think we'll be sharing information in these that's often actually the subject of paid conferences that we join. So, I hope you'll be there, and you'll find them informative. Thank you.
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