Butler University recruited marketing leaders from outside the higher-education ecosystem onto their internal teams. The university’s new leaders partnered with Studio Science to explore opportunities to transform the experiences of students and parents who visit the campus during their school selection process.
While Butler University has gained national awareness through its success in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, the school faces the sames challenges private liberal arts universities across the country are dealing with, including having to compete with the massive resources of state schools and adapting to the increasingly rapid disruption of education through technology.
Like many universities, once Butler students and alumni are enrolled and a part of the community, their experiences are unique and life-changing. But demonstrating that future reality to prospective students is a profound challenge. In particular the school saw that campus visits weren’t portraying the “Butler Spirit,” were undifferentiated from other schools, and weren’t leading to as many new enrollments as they needed.
The Studio Science team initiated a people-centered research agenda to better understand Butler’s audiences and the current campus
Instead of relying on statistical data, or following patterns other schools use, we spent high-quality, focused time with Butler’s staff, students and prospective students and parents to uncover the deeper needs, desires and values driving their experiences and behaviors. Our process included: shadowing visiting students and parents, attending school events at competing universities, one on one interviews with students and parents
and collaborative small group sessions.
After analyzing the qualitative data from this research, we synthesized our findings and presented it to Butler’s team as a discovery report that detailed the shortcomings and successes of the existing campus visit experience, and introduced opportunities and themes
Building off of our findings, we worked with Butler to produce dozens of concepts for improving the campus visit experience and used a feasibility, desirability and viability evaluation method to select and pursue the strongest ideas.
While this process produced many meaningful insights, two central ideas took center stage:
First, the earlier Butler can begin a relationship with a prospective student the stronger the connection becomes. And, secondly, prospective students and parents are more meaningfully influenced by the experiences and voices of alumni than
the “self-reporting” that comes from the school itself.
While tactical enhancements to the campus visit experience were important, the deepest value of our partnership with Butler was identifying a long-term student engagement strategy. This led to an exciting partnership with ClearScholar, a technology-focused startup and Studio Science partner. ClearScholar helps schools build stronger connections with current university students and drive future alumni engagement.