Anton Chekhov, famous Russian playwright and short-story writer once said, “Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” Chekhov wrote this more than a century ago, but the quote still resonates, especially when it comes to today’s higher education programs.

 

In the face of declining enrollment and an increasingly competitive market, many higher education programs are being launched hastily and with little strategy. Not only can this strain limited university resources when the expected number of students do not enroll, but the ones who do could graduate with a degree that doesn’t readily transfer to gainful employment.

 

At Relearnit, we take a different approach. To ensure that our students can leverage their degrees upon graduation and that our higher education partners meet their enrollment goals, our programs must first undergo our comprehensive, informed decision-making process known as Academics First®. Before we even begin to develop, recruit for or market a program, we use Academics First®, exclusive to Relearnit, to assess feasibility through four key criteria:

 

Occupational demand

Will students be able to leverage this degree?

This is determined by examining data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) along with regional and state indicators, including growth in the number of positions, gaps between graduates and annual job openings, and increasing or stable salaries within a disciplinary or geographic area. Careful data analysis of the occupational demand of specific degree programs ensure students earn degrees that matter.

 

Student demand

Is there interest in this degree?

To verify degree interest, we review data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Its annual surveys gather information from colleges and universities across the U.S. and often include statistics on student enrollment and degree conferrals. We gather additional insights through in-depth auditing of the online search behaviors of students interested in earning an advanced degree.

 

Geographic market demand 

Are there other programs saturating the market?

Although online degree programs have national appeal, geography matters. According to recent research, two-thirds of online students live within 50 miles of where they are studying. This is why we offer programs most needed in the communities where our university partners are located.

This also reinforces the importance of offering unique programs other institutions don’t have. For instance, a niche degree program is more likely to stand out in a crowded marketplace as opposed to a more mainstream degree like the standard MBA. Additionally, it’s essential to ensure that there are regional professional partners, or “boots on the ground,” that can provide support to new degree programs.

 

Institutional alignment

Is this degree a good fit?

Finally, we assess the existing program array of our university partners to confirm the degrees we develop align with institutional goals, disciplinary areas of expertise, program requirements and university policies. We also consider our partner’s ability to specialize within the program, evolve the program over time and consistently achieve enrollment goals.

 

Think of these criteria as the four corners of a graduation cap. Each corner plays a part in balancing on top of a graduate’s head. If a student tips their graduation cap too heavily to one side, it will fall to the ground. The same is true for the Academics First® process. For instance, if the labor market for one degree program is saturated, it will be difficult for future students to successfully get jobs in that industry. Thus, each of the four criteria has an important role in ensuring student success through graduation and beyond.

 

When an online education provider wants to expand by offering additional degree programs, it is also essential to find a partner who shares its vision, understands its financial goals and is committed to student success. At Relearnit, we pride ourselves on our unique ability to be an extension of the universities we support by providing tailored services that enable us to deliver sustainable growth as well as career success for students.

 

By remaining a lean, but dynamic and nimble team, we are able to be discerning about our partnerships. Relearnit’s adherence to the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) and Agile methodology allows us to operate efficiently while consistently providing the high-quality content and personalized services our partners value. Relearnit is home to the best and brightest from within academia who deliver expertise in academic program and market research, instructional design, marketing, enrollment and student success. Our team believes in helping both our university partners and students reach their goals by turning the data and research we glean from Academics First® into real results.

 

For more information about Relearnit and to see how our Academics First® approach could help your university grow and your students succeed, visit relearnit.com or contact us at (314) 499-6567 or [email protected]