Great Social Media Idea: Where Does Tuition Money Go?

First, the steak. Then, later, I'll get all philosophical on ya'll with the sizzle. Check out this fun, enlightening, and impactful video from Colorado State University, where the president of the school explains how tuition dollars are spent and why college is still a good investment:

Kimberly Stern, manager of social media at CSU, explains the project:

The rising cost of higher education continues to be a topic of contention and misinformation for colleges and universities. Colorado State University took note of this trend and made the decision to de-mystify where students’ tuition dollars really go. Adopting a TED-Talk style of approach, the university pursued the creation of a video to educate students and families about where their tuition dollars go in an easy-to-understand and visually appealing way.

And visually appealing it is indeed! This video works really well on a lot of levels, but I would say most crucially it is NOT a talking head video. This could have been absolutely deadly with nothing but a talking head with text overlays. But with the fun illustrations, it becomes engaging, exciting, and makes you want to keep watching. 

The proof is in the pudding: This video has more than 5,500 views, which is a terrific amount for a subject matter that is so hyper-specific and - let's face it - dry.

This is arguably the most important issue facing higher ed, and no matter what school you work for, this is something that needs to be addressed. This from Colorado State is a really wonderful example of a way to do it effectively and creatively.

Many thanks to Kimberly for using the form on the right of this blog and submitting this terrific idea!

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Now, for a few paragraphs of me blathering on.

The higher education bubble. A Sword of Damocles dangling over everyone who works in higher ed. The product of - among many things - years of skyrocketing tuition costs, increased debt loads, and poor job prospects for young graduates, it has forced colleges into a position they haven't been in for years... possibly forever: explaining why a college education is worth it. What used to be treated as fact - that getting a college degree is a surefire way to future success - is now being questioned, especially as MOOCs and other online learning options provide a significantly cheaper route.

Working in PR for a college, I naturally fall in the camp of believing strongly that the value and benefit of college involves a lot more than future earning potential. College is where you grow up, where you take your baby steps toward independence, where you can unshackle yourself from all that is high school and involve into your true self, where you meet lifelong friends and build a professional network that will serve you forever. College is where you learn responsibility, self-reliance, and begin to truly shape the values and beliefs that will guide you throughout your life. College is a great thing!

But that's all namby-pamby, fuzzy talk, right? Right! Good luck convincing a family that is struggling to keep their house from foreclosing that they should spend several thousands of dollars to send Johnny to college with that line of reasoning. No, you need to make the appeal on a more basic level.

You need to show that (despite common beliefs) colleges don't waste money and needlessly inflate costs. You need to show that, even with rising costs, a college education is still vital for your future job prospects. You need to show that colleges are good stewards - both of their money and their children. You need to show stridently and unequivocally the value of learning and education.

We all work in marketing for a specific school, and yes, it's important that we promote the unique things our schools have to offer. But looking at this issue from a more holistic point of view, we are all of us together in the business of believing in higher education and advocating for its continued relevancy and importance in today's world. This is our collective task, and judging by the amazing work I see colleges doing out there every day on social media and otherwise, I think we're up for the task.

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