School Postcard Effort Makes Enrollment Surge

By Oct 26, 2011

Lakewood College, a two-year nonprofit online school, has vastly increased its enrollment levels of military-affiliated students thanks to a postcard marketing program this summer.

Starting with a 10,000-piece drop in June and 30,000 pieces in July, Lakewood so far has enrolled 300 students thanks to the postcards, says Tonya Haggins, president of the Lakewood, OH-based institution.

This compares with a total of 45 new students from the military last year which Lakewood recruited mostly through a combination of online advertising on several different sites, both paid and organic search engine optimization and public relations, she says.

Lakewood also used Facebook for marketing and building relationships with prospective students. The school, which was founded in 1998, has a total of 525 students both military and civilian.

The school began the postcard effort to better reach active duty military personnel, veterans and their spouses. The six-month to two-year courses cost between $2,000 and $8,200, and the cost is typically paid for by the military.

“We’re not allowed to buy lists naming military members,” she says, explaining that their contract only allows Lakewood to get base housing addresses of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen and airwomen. This arrangement does not extend to Coast Guard personnel.

“We want to support our troops and their family members improve the quality of their lives,” she says. “Our president is a veteran.”

The postcards offer recipients the opportunities to sign up for both certificate and degree courses to train to become paralegals, medical technicians and similar professions. The cards also quote average salaries for these lines of work using information for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also warn prospective students to enroll quickly in case federal budget cuts eliminate these programs.

Once recipients respond, either through a toll free telephone number, the website www.tuition4free.com or through a quick response code with their smartphones, they are immediately contacted by a representative who walks them through the enrollment process, says Haggins.

Down the road, Lakewood is looking to target Native Americans on their reservations, says Haggins, noting that targeting this group fits in with Lakewood’s mission as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. She concedes getting mailing lists for Native Americans may be difficult.

But for the moment, the college is just going to stick with its military efforts. “It’s growing rapidly and we’re experiencing growth pains within the organization,” says Haggins.

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