WASC ARC 2018 Conference, April 25 - 27:   Bob Atkins to Speak on Program Assessment Best Practices

Posted by Ellis Simon on Apr 20, 2018 2:30:00 PM

Gray Associates Founder and Chief Executive Officer Robert Atkins will be a presenter at the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Academic Resource Conference (ARC), April 25 – 27 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Burlingame, CA.  He will participate in a session on “Best Practices in the Assessment of Current and New Programs.”  His co-presenter will be Joseph Hoey, Vice Provost, National University.

Session participants will learn how to assess the fit between an institution’s programs and external markets.  Mr. Atkins will identify sources for data on student demand, employment opportunities, competition, and degree fit.  These are the four components of Gray’s Program Evaluation System, which enables institutions to select the best programs to Start, Stop, Sustain and Grow, both online and at each campus.  Gray's data, systems and processes have been used by colleges and universities that serve over 1.0 million students nationwide.

The session takes place 9:15 – 10:15 a.m. Thursday, April 26th, in Sandpebble Room C.  It is included in the following conference tracks: Track 3 – Student Learning and Achievement; Track 4 – Telling Higher Education’s Story, and Track 5 – Higher Education’s Stakeholders: Families, Employers, Policy Makers, and the Public.  For more information about the conference visit https://2018.wascarc.org/.     

Topics: Higher Education

Market Scorecard: A Summary of Critical Data on Market Attractiveness.

Posted by Bob Atkins on Apr 18, 2018 10:30:00 AM

Market Scorecard

Topics: Higher Education

Improve Marketing Results:  Identify the Best Markets for Your Online Programs.

Posted by Bob Atkins on Apr 11, 2018 9:30:00 AM


Topics: Higher Education

Gray Associates’ Market Analysis Program Identifies ‘Pockets of Opportunity’ for Enrollment Marketing

Posted by Ellis Simon on Apr 9, 2018 3:48:18 PM

As enrollment declines nationally, many colleges are struggling to keep their classes full.  After decades focused on their local markets, these colleges are marketing to students who live hundreds or thousands of miles away from their campuses.  As colleges extend their reach, they compete with colleges in these new markets and hundreds of other online schools, which can be a very expensive proposition.

By using data-driven geo-targeting strategies, colleges can identify pockets of opportunity throughout the United States where demand is strong – but competition is limited – for the programs they offer.

At Gray Associates’ most recent monthly webinar on March 29, guest presenter Jennifer Goode of Enrollment Builders, described how her agency uses Gray’s Market Analysis Program (MAP) to identify attractive cities for enrollment marketing.  The program ranks the attractiveness of all US markets for over 1,400 academic programs.  It then generates a Market Scorecard for each location and program.  The Scorecard is a one-page summary of data on student demand, competition, and employment.  With this information, Jennifer identified markets where she could generate cost-effective applicants for her clients.  

“Many institutions are looking to get outside of the regional area where they are strongest to find pockets of opportunity across the U.S. that make sense for their programs,” Ms. Goode said.  She described a three-step process to identify where these pockets are located and how to market to them.

  • Identify national norms for individual programs on critical metrics.  Compare the norms to data on each city and program to identify the ones that beat the averages. 
  • Focus on locations where there is a gap between competitive completions, student demand, and employer needs. 
  • Launch a national marketing strategy alongside a regional strategy to incrementally grow programs in the target locations.
Market Analysis Program (MAP)-1

Topics: Higher Education

A Growth Story: Western Governors University

Posted by Bob Atkins on Mar 15, 2018 5:30:00 PM

WGU Enrollment Growth

Topics: Higher Education

Gray Associates CEO Robert Atkins to Speak on Data-Driven Program Portfolio Assessment in Higher Education at American Council on Education’s 100th Annual Meeting

Posted by Ellis Simon on Mar 2, 2018 3:00:00 PM

Linda Osterlund, Vice Provost of Regis University, and Robert Atkins, CEO of Gray Associates, will deliver a presentation on Data and Methodology for Program Portfolio Assessment at the American Council on Education’s 100th Annual Meeting, being held in Washington DC.   The session is scheduled for 1:15 – 1:45 p.m., Sunday, March 11.

Declining enrollment and rising costs threaten the long-term vitality of many colleges and universities.  Revitalizing the institution's program portfolio is one of the few strategies that can drive growth while reducing cost.  Mr. Atkins will present an approach that draws on the best available data, systems, and processes an institution can use to decide which programs to Start, Stop, Sustain, or Grow.  In particular, he will introduce Gray's Program Evaluation System (PES), which pulls together the market data needed to support program decisions.  

PES provides the right data, but it is just part of a broader process.  Gray's transparent approach includes a two-day program evaluation workshop in which institutional leaders collaborate on new programs to Start, Stop, Sustain, or Grow, while building consensus among faculty and administrators.

In addition, the PES approach helps institutions improve student outcomes by explicitly assessing the number of jobs available, wages, and required skills for graduates of each program.  It also aligns with accreditors’ demands for more frequent, data-driven program assessments.  Dozens of institutions in 2017, including Regis University, have used the process to reallocate funds and invest in existing and/or new programs to spur growth.      

Topics: Higher Education

Largest Academic Programs Generate Nearly Half of Completions, Gray Associates Analysis Shows

Posted by Ellis Simon on Mar 2, 2018 8:05:00 AM

Having too many small programs ‘cannibalizes’ bigger programs, says Gray Founder and CEO Robert Atkins   

When it comes to academic productivity, size matters.

Half of all higher-education completions come from just six percent of the programs offered in the US.  According to an analysis of IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) data conducted by Gray Associates, there are thousands of programs offered by higher education institutions, but only a few with over 99 completions per year.  

Nationally, these large programs comprise six percent of higher education programs but account for 45 percent of all graduates (see chart below).  At the other end, 48 percent of academic programs generate fewer than 10 completions per year; these smaller programs produce just 7 percent of completions.

National Program Productivity Final2.png

Many institutions tout the number of programs they offer as a messaging point for recruitment.  However, the strategy could be backfiring.  “Having too many small programs cannibalizes other programs,” said Robert Atkins, founder and CEO of Gray, during the firm’s monthly webinar on demand trends held February 22.  “They are not bringing in incremental students.  They are just shifting students from one program to another.”

Institutions should focus on starting or expanding larger programs that can attract students and have a positive financial impact, Mr. Atkins added.  “The key is picking the right programs.”  Gray’s Program Evaluation System (PES) is used by colleges and universities to identify programs to Start, Stop, Sustain, or Grow.  It incorporates 40 points of data into a scoring rubric that measures student demand, employment outlook, competition, and strategic fit.

He cited Western Governors University (WGU), an online-only institution owned by a consortium of public institutions in western states, to illustrate his point.  It has grown from 8,735 students for the 2005 – 2006 academic year to 101,229 for 2015 – 2016, achieving a 28 percent annual growth rate.  Its number of completions has risen from 2,271 in 2010 to 16,444 in 2016, a 39 percent annual growth rate.

Topics: Higher Education

A Concerning Trend? Colleges are Graduating 50% More Women than Men.

Posted by Bob Atkins on Feb 15, 2018 4:10:00 PM

The Gender Crisis

Topics: Higher Education

Announcement:  Employer Requirements by Academic Program

Posted by Bob Atkins on Feb 14, 2018 11:05:00 AM

Every year, Gray helps dozens of colleges decide which programs to Start, Stop, Sustain or Grow.  Once these decisions are made, the school must decide what to teach in each program and in the general education courses that support more specialized fields.  To address this need, Gray has added data on employer requirements to our Program Evaluation System.  The following outlines the content of the employer requirements data and shares an example for one popular program, Accounting.

Using advanced AI and machine learning techniques, our data supplier, SkillsEngine, translates unstructured text from resumes and job postings into nine categories of employer requirements, which are described below:

  • Abilities:  An attribute of an individual that can influence performance on the job
  • General Work Activities:  Categories of work that consume major units of time on the job
  • Intermediate Work Activities:  Groups of work activities that consume major units of time on the job
  • Detailed Work Activities:  Specific activities that consume major units of time on the job
  • Knowledges:  Principles, bodies of content, and facts generally applied within academic domains.
  • Occupations:  O*NET Standard Occupation Codes, titles, and relevancy scores
  • Skills:  A developed capacity, such as time management or information gathering
  • Tools:  Equipment or software associated with a skill
  • Workplace Essentials:  Behaviors and characteristics that demonstrate strengths in such areas as teamwork, attention to detail, and communication

Topics: Higher Education

View Your Local Competition by Program and Award Level.

Posted by Bob Atkins on Feb 13, 2018 7:15:00 PM

IPEDS Completions Since 2014

Topics: Higher Education