Pajamas and Online Assessments

Career College Central Summary:

  • Colleges still pay companies to be matchmakers for them with potential students — so-called “lead generators.”
  • The sometimes-controversial practice remains a big business, despite scrutiny from Washington and accreditors. Yet lead generation has evolved over time.
  • Smart Degree is one company that appears to include a couple of new twists. Dale Leatherwood, a veteran of higher-education marketing for both nonprofit and for-profit colleges, came up with the concept three years ago. He said lead generation typically provides only “partial information to both sides of the process.”
  • Potential students know little about the colleges that pay for the web and television ads that pique their interest. And the colleges usually have skimpy information on the students.
  • “It was a very inefficient and wasteful form of marketing,” said Leatherwood.
  • “Students didn’t know exactly what they were getting into.”
  • The U.S. Department of Education strengthened its rules around marketing. Now colleges can be held accountable for “misleading statements” their vendors make.
  • The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the for-profit sector trade group, also tightened its guidelines for working with lead generators.
  • The demand, however, is still there.
  • Colleges particularly want to reach more of the 31 million Americans who hold some college credits but no credential.
  • Leatherwood said Smart Degree tries to tap this market by doing more to vet potential students and to help make sure they succeed in college. And he said the company works only with respected institutions.
  • Its eight partners include the University of Toledo, Tiffin University, Quinnipiac University and the University of Florida.

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