Before you commit to launching or growing an online degree program, develop a financial model that accounts for all development and delivery costs, in addition to projecting new student enrollments based on prevailing market conditions.
1. Focus on the bottom line, not the top line.
Institutions often focus too much on top-line tuition revenue and neglect to consider the fixed and variable costs that determine success or failure in the online market.
2. Design each program with your audience in mind.
Your program’s success hinges on its students’ ability to move quickly down a well-marked path to graduation.
3. Don’t offer every course every term.
Careful thought should be given to structuring your online program for scalability.
4. Reduce your instruction expenses while increasing faculty-student interaction.
To ensure a low faculty-student ratio, consider the master teacher model in which an Instructor of Record also supervises a group of qualified adjunct instructors.
5. Keep program administration lean and student-focused.
Strive to keep your program administration costs below 15 percent of your total direct expenses.
6. Create a diverse marketing campaign.
Programs with a mission to broaden their geographic reach incur far higher incremental costs to reach prospective students who don’t have a direct connection to the university.
7. Plan to spend more as you grow.
To combat rampant marketing cost increases, you must constantly investigate new lead channels and adjust your marketing spend mix accordingly.
8. Actively engage every prospective student.
Active student recruitment is the key to maximizing the outcomes from your marketing.
9. Track student retention by term and by completion.
The effects of strong or poor retention compound over time; in many cases, the difference between a successful program and a struggling one lies in how well it retains qualified students.
10. Protect your investment with dedicated student success advisors.
Working professionals are more likely to drop out of programs for nonacademic reasons than for academic ones, many of which could have been resolved without discontinuing their studies.
Is your financial model representing a holistic view of the online enterprise and taking into consideration the fundamental aspects of a successful online program?
For tactical and tangible strategies centered on these 10 keys to success, watch the video series and download the white paper.