Increasing Offerings: Rising Tides or Flooding the Market?

By: Ellie Koewler, IEP Senior Campus Coordinator


Setting the stage: a case study

At one mid-size public institution, in the last academic year alone, the number of one week Spring Break offerings jumped from 8 in 2016 to 17 planned for 2017, including 4 new programs all going to Cuba.

With the increase in offerings planned for the same term, faculty directors were starting to pose questions such as:

  • “Do you know if the study abroad office has any plans to limit programs – my enrollment is down because there are too many other programs!”
  • “Is it just survival of the fittest?”
  • “My program is more expensive than the others and it won’t fill!”

The data is in

We looked at enrollment and application data. Last year, the institution had just over 150 total submitted applications for the 8 spring break programs. This year,  there are nearly 300 submitted applications. In other words, new locations, new coursework, new academic foci are attracting new populations of students that previously had not considered a spring break offering – or possible study abroad at all!

AND get this…

The program with the HIGHEST total cost (and approximately $1000 above the average cost of other international spring break programs) had the MOST applications. WHY?  Positive messaging from the faculty director, unified departmental promotion, and curriculum integration!

Bottom line

There is something to be said for having too many similar options – analysis paralysis among students is real; but if you are fostering unique, curriculum-focused programs that are being marketing strategically (regardless of price!) by an engaged director, more programs can often truly mean more students.

What now?

The graph below shows responses from Spring Break participants when asked “How did you INITIALLY learn about this program?” Ask this question on your own campus – the results may give you the leverage to empower your faculty directors to own the recruitment process!