What’s Up?  Not Demand for On-Campus Programs. [Chart]

Posted by Jeff Chin on Jan 31, 2019 11:00:00 AM

Inquiries for on-campus programs have been falling for years but rose in October and November 2018.  Sadly, they resumed their fall in December, dropping 6.5%. The worst may still be ahead for on-ground programs.

Topics: Higher Education, On-Ground Programs, 2016, 2017, 2018


What’s Up?  Inquiries for Online Programs Rise 9%. [Chart]

Posted by Jeff Chin on Jan 29, 2019 10:00:00 AM

While some believe that growth in online programs has peaked, the data suggest that the best is yet to come.  Inquiry volumes rose almost every month in 2018 for an annual average growth rate of 6.2%. Growth in December beat the average, surging 9%.

Topics: Higher Education, Online Programs, Inquiry Volumes, 2018


Sudden Drop in Conversion Rates for Student Inquiries. [Chart]

Posted by Jeff Chin on Jan 22, 2019 6:15:28 PM

Sudden Drop in Conversion Rates for Student Inquiries Nov18

Topics: Inquiry Source, Higher Education, Conversions, On-Ground Programs, Inquiry Volumes, Programs and Cities, Job Postings, Google Search Volumes, 2018


Gray Associates Reports 10 Percent Inquiry Jump for October, Fastest Since Tracking Began

Posted by Ellis Simon on Dec 14, 2018 3:30:00 PM

Inquiries for higher education programs rose 10 percent year-over-year in October, according to Gray Associates, a higher education strategy consulting firm.  The gain was the largest since the firm began tracking the data in 2015.

Topics: Higher Education


September Higher Ed Inquiries Rose 2 Percent, Reports Gray Associates

Posted by Ellis Simon on Nov 21, 2018 9:39:14 AM

Inquiry volume for higher education rose two percent year-over-year in September, reports Gray Associates, a higher education strategy consulting firm.  Inquiries are now higher for the most recent five months.

“After several years of decline, it is gratifying to see monthly results come in ahead of last year, indicating somewhat stronger demand for higher education,” said Gray Founder and CEO Robert Atkins.  "Higher inquiry volume could be indicative of a resurgence of demand for some for-profit programs since these institutions rely more on inquiries than public and independent non-profit colleges and universities," he added.

An inquiry is a prospective student’s request for information about an academic program or institution prior to submitting an application.  Gray tracks inquiry volume as part of its Program Evaluation System, which colleges and universities use to make decisions about which programs to Start, Stop, Sustain or Grow.

October National Inquiries

Topics: Higher Education


Balancing ‘Mission and Money’:  Using Program Margins to Fund the Mission

Posted by Ellis Simon on Oct 24, 2018 4:45:05 PM

“Understanding program margins enables colleges to direct funds from high-contribution programs to smaller programs that may lose money.  These planned cross-subsidies help colleges fund and assert their mission,” according to Dr. William Massy, an emeritus Stanford University faculty member and administrator.  "But, many colleges and universities struggle to balance mission and money for academic programs because they do not have systems to track program economics.” Dr. Massy said.  

To help colleges understand the economics of their academic programs, Gray Associates, a higher-education consulting firm, developed a SaaS solution to calculate contribution margins by program, course, and instructor.  Dr. Massy and Bob Atkins, CEO of Gray Associates, introduced the new service on a conference call on September 11, 2018.  “From a financial perspective, a program is the sum of the courses taken by students in a given major,” Mr. Atkins explained.  “We collect revenue data, including tuition, fees, and grants, at the student level, as well as faculty salaries and other direct costs by course.  Then, we combine the revenue and costs for courses taken by each student in a major.  This enables our systems to track revenue, direct instructional cost, and contribution margin by student, course, department, and campus.”

"What we found," said Mr. Atkins, "Is that most programs have positive contribution margins.  So schools need a better measure of success:  they need a comparison with their other programs and with the same program at other schools."  To make valid comparisons, schools need to use a common denominator that can put large programs on a similar footing with smaller programs.

Topics: Higher Education


For This Market, RN Scores Better Than 98% of All Higher Education Programs.

Posted by Bob Atkins on Oct 4, 2018 5:31:00 PM

Academic Program Scorecard

Topics: Higher Education


Higher Ed Inquiry Volume Improves in Five Largest Cities

Posted by Ellis Simon on Aug 29, 2018 12:26:00 PM

Inquiry volumes improved in June for the five largest U.S. cities, according to Gray Associates, a higher education consulting firm.  In three of the five cities, inquiries were higher, year-over-year, while in the two other cities the rate of decline slowed.

An inquiry is a prospective student’s request for information about an academic program or institution prior to applying.  Gray tracks inquiry volume as part of its Program Evaluation System, used by colleges and universities to make strategic decisions regarding which academic programs to Start, Stop, Sustain or Grow.

The strongest showing was in Los Angeles, where inquiry volume rose 17 percent after dropping eight percent from June 2016 to June 2017.  Philadelphia and Chicago reported gains of eight percent and five percent, respectively.  A year ago, inquiries declined 13 percent in both markets.

The weakest showing was for New York, where inquiries fell by six percent year-over-year for June, a slight improvement over the seven percent decrease a year ago.  Inquiry volume for Houston fell one percent, but vastly outperformed 2017, when inquiries dropped 26 percent.

Updated Cities

Results for Five Largest Programs Mixed; Criminal Justice and Nursing Fall, while Medical Assistant and Healthcare Administration Increase

Three of the five largest programs had lower inquiry volume in June while the other two saw increases.  The biggest decline was for Criminal Justice, down 70 percent, year-over-year.  Registered Nursing fell 16 percent and Business Administration dropped one percent.  Inquiries rose 64 percent for Medical Assistant and 13 percent for Healthcare Administration.

Topics: Higher Education


Inquiries for Online Higher Education Programs Are Rising Fast in a Down Market.

Posted by Ellis Simon on Aug 24, 2018 9:10:00 AM

Inquiry Volume for Online Higher Education Programs Are Higher for All Three Months of the Second Quarter

Overall, enrollment in higher education institutions has been declining for several years.  In this gloom, there are a few bright spots, and one is demand for online programs.  Student inquiries for higher education programs at colleges and universities rose eight percent year-over-year in June, according to Gray Associates, a higher education consulting firm.  June was the third consecutive month to see higher volume.  Inquiries were up four percent for April and seven percent for May.

An inquiry is a prospective student’s request for information about an academic program or institution prior to submitting an application.  Gray tracks inquiry volume as part of its Program Evaluation System (PES), used by colleges and universities to make strategic decisions regarding which academic programs to Start, Stop, Sustain or Grow.

Growth was driven entirely by inquiries for online programs, which were higher in five of the first six months of 2018.  Inquiries for on-campus programs fell 18 percent in June and have declined for the first six months of 2018 and for all of 2017.

Inquiries for Online Programs Blog

Topics: Higher Education


Google Searches for Higher Education Programs Continue to Decline

Posted by Ellis Simon on Aug 21, 2018 3:50:15 PM

Google searches for higher education programs and institutional brands continue to fall, reports Gray Associates, a higher education consulting firm.

Searches for programs were off four percent, year-over-year, for the first six months of 2018.  In June, the most recent month for which complete data is available, searches were three percent lower.

Searches are a predictor of future enrollment levels.  Search volume is one of more than 40 critical program data elements that are incorporated into Gray's Program Evaluation System (PES), used by colleges and universities to make decisions on which programs to Start, Stop, Sustain, or Grow.

Gray tracks Google searches for the 200 largest higher education programs in the IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) database and uses 25 keywords for each program.  These 200 programs combined account for 67 percent of program completions.

Google Searches - 200 Largest Academic Programs

Topics: Higher Education