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McCauley on Building Enrollment: Why does our program exist?

Why would a student (or a student’s parents) consider enrolling in your program?  Do you have a meaningful response when asked?  Have you really given serious thought to what you’re trying to accomplish?  Is there added value for the student? If your focus is on “fun” and “alternatives to academics,” you may be in for some serious challenges as schools reposition to address today’s educational demands.    Let’s think it through together.

Be honest.  Break it down to the basics.  No need for platitudes.  Is it to “give students a head start on a college degree or career in business?  To introduce students to the world of business? To provide all students a foundation in business?  It’s up to you, but be honest with yourself.

Perhaps the best way to identify and communicate our reason for existence is to develop a mission statement.  Not the type that is written to impress and then placed in a drawer never to be seen again.  Instead, craft a statement that truly defines your program.  The statement, in a few sentences, should capture the essence of your program. 

Your mission statement should signal what your program is all about to your students, parents, administration and the community.  That is a lot to accomplish in a few words or sentences.

After reading countless mission statements for elementary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and business schools, I have come to one conclusion:  There is no perfect way to write a mission statement.  In fact, I would argue that what is truly important is what you come to realize during the process of writing your statement.

Some statements are so general they could be sued for any organization; some are very specific to their institution or program.  Some are obviously written for students while others appear to target parents.

What should you do?  Brainstorm with your department or program staff.  Bounce ideas off your students and business teacher from another school.  Write things down, scratch them out and write them again.  Read other statements.  The process of developing a mission statement will force you to focus on what you want your program to be and will provide an essential starting point for writing your marketing plan.

Below are several sample mission statements.  Read them and use them for a starting point—or not.  But certainly use them as a reference.  I have written/helped to write to very different mission statements in the recent past.  They are found below.  After researching and reading other statements I might have to get to work and fine-tune them.

The mission statement for our business school (The Davis Business School) is:

to prepare students for successful transition into post-secondary business programs or entry into the world of business by offering progressive, high-quality courses in a student-centered learning environment emphasizing the skills, knowledge, attitudes and ethics essential in a challenging and changing 21st century business environment.

That statement was written by a “committee” (and it shows) and might need to be softened a bit. For The Davis Marketing Group I took another concept from Seth Godin and made a two word mission statement, followed by a bit more explanation.  I need to work to integrate an understanding of this concept into the entire program.  It has to do more than satisfy the teacher.

Create Linchpins

What is a linchpin?   These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there's no rulebook. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.     (Seth Godin)                             

Below are several additional examples from a variety of school and programs.

Stanford Graduate School of Business: Our mission is to create ideas that deepen and advance our understanding of management and with those ideas to develop innovative, principled, and insightful leaders who change the world.

Harvard Business School: For more than a century, our faculty have drawn on their passion for teaching, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and the insights gained from their research to educate generations of leaders who have shaped the practice of business in every industry and in every country around the world.

Neeley School of Business: The faculty and staff of the Neeley School of Business are committed:

  • To develop ethical leaders with a global perspective who help shape the business environment.
  • To develop and disseminate leading edge thought in order to improve the practice of business.

 
The list below includes statements from a variety of schools. Visit the website here or click here to read more)

  • Our mission is to develop young men with active and creative minds, a sense of understanding and compassion for others, and the courage to act on their beliefs. We stress the total development of each child: spiritual, moral, intellectual, social, emotional, and physical.
  • The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship exists to advance the field of social entrepreneurship through world-class education, through knowledge creation, and through brokering new and empowering connections.
  • Community School recognizes that each child is an individual; that all children are creative; that all children need to succeed. Therefore, Community School respects the individual needs of children; fosters a caring and creative environment; and emphasizes the social, emotional, physical, intellectual development of each child.
  • Eaglebrook School's role is to help each boy come into confident possession of his innate talents, improve the skills needed for success in secondary school, and establish values that will allow him to act with thoughtfulness and humanity.
  • To Ensure the Safety and Security for Each Person in our Community
  • Kitty Hawk Elementary School seeks to create a challenging learning environment that encourages high expectations for success through development-appropriate instruction that allows for individual differences and learning styles. Our school promotes a safe, orderly, caring, and supportive environment. Each student's self-esteem is fostered by positive relationships with students and staff. We strive to have our parents, teachers, and community members actively involved on our students' learning.
  • Our mission at Augsburg Park Montessori School is to implement the philosophy, practices and curriculum of Dr. Maria Montessori and her method of education. To this end, we have prepared an environment that is engaging and responsive to each child at each stage of development.

 
Here is a great article on this topic: School Mission Statements: Where Is Your School Going?  When you complete your mission statement, or if you already have one, feel free to post it on our Facebook page (facebook.com/MBAResearch).  Use our Facebook page to continue the discussion as well.