What Is Your School’s Unique Value?

Best ValueIt’s no secret that growing numbers of parents and students are questioning the value of a college education. The headlines are full of stories about the skyrocketing costs of attending college (tuition has risen more than 500 percent since 1985, according to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni), as well as the student loan debt crisis (Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loans, a figure that has tripled since 2004).

While many families still believe strongly in the value of a college education, both for personal earning potential and for building an educated society, they are increasingly concerned about what they’ll get for their tuition dollars. That’s why it’s more important than ever before for colleges and universities to clearly communicate their unique value to students and families.

Not all colleges and universities are created equal: Each institution has its own traditions, specialties, and strengths. And savvy higher education personnel are finding that capitalizing on their institution’s unique value proposition — that thing or things that make it special — is crucial for showing parents and students the valuable return they’ll get on their investment of tuition dollars. Figuring out how to develop and communicate your college’s unique value proposition is also important for interacting with donors, legislators, employers and others.

For instance, rather than “trying to be all things to all people,” many of the most successful colleges and universities are focusing on sharing their specific value to the specific students who are ideal fits, says Kevin Myers, director of communications at Reed College.

In a new e-book on this topic, We’re #1: Determining and Sharing What Sets Your School Apart, we share strategies for creating a unique value proposition and for communicating it successfully with various audiences.

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