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College/University Research Capabilities

Our clients in higher education research have run the gamut from small liberal arts colleges to large universities and law schools.  The focus of our research encompasses diverse college and university constituencies ranging from students, parents, and alumni to business and government.

Among the higher education issues we have examined are:

  • Perceptions about an institutionís reputation and image;
  • Satisfaction with college or university experience;
  • Assessment of an institutionís strengths and weaknesses in relation to the current market;
  • Message testing;
  • Evaluation of marketing communication vehicles with particular focus on assessing the most effective fund raising messages.

In our work for law schools, we have further examined whether and to what extent alumni feel their expectations were met, the relative influence of and feeling of connectedness to their undergraduate and law school, and awareness of and interest in law school programs and publications.

We have developed particular expertise in the area of alumni research assessing:

  • Basic impressions of the institution and satisfaction with their university experience;
  • Alumni program and service needs, preferences, and expectations;
  • Level of alumni involvement with the university and how and why alumni choose (or do not choose) to become involved with the institution, volunteer their time or contribute financially;
  • Sources of information about the university;
  • The reach and effectiveness of college or university communication vehicles;
  • Messages that are most effective in increasing alumni participation and financial contributions.

Potomac uses a two-staged approach in our research. 

We begin with focus group research among alumni to develop in-depth insight into alumni behavior and attitudes toward the issues of interest.  These groups are particularly useful in testing new concepts and messages. 

This is then followed by systematic quantitative survey research among a representative sample of alumni to test the observations uncovered in the focus group research.

Our methodology allows us to explore the broad subject areas described earlier as well as assessing in greater detail such things as the alumni relations office, alumni publications and readership patterns, class reunions and regional alumni activities and programs, interest in college or university products or services, and donor issues.

We provide a full written report with an executive memo containing actionable recommendations.  We also provided an in-person presentation of the results.

Let us put our experience to work for you.


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