There are over 4,000 higher education institutions in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. With a variety of options at an applicant’s disposal, the competition for institutions to attract their desired student body can be fierce. Some factors many consider when searching for the perfect college are its reputation and brand. Increasingly, universities have chosen to engage in marketing and branding techniques once reserved for corporations. According to a report by the Santa Clara Consulting Group, “a university is no longer just an institution of higher learning but also a business.” In coordination with this growing trend, institutions have been propelled to undergo some extent of a transformation to achieve their goals. This paper examines three institutions representing different higher education categories that have undergone or are currently undergoing some extent of a reputational shift. Looking at a large public university, an Ivy League institution and a liberal arts college, the research explores the various communications efforts made by each institution and how they compare. In some cases, the communications department is an integral component of the shift, while sometimes it provides mostly auxiliary support. Ultimately, this research hopes to provide insight into the following questions: what actions can an institution’s communications department take to help strengthen its reputation and grow its brand; and how do these strategies compare among various types of institutions?
- Transforming Reputation in Higher Education
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