The issue of Pierce’s dropping enrollment rate has cropped up repeatedly this semester. Administration and faculty have offered varied opinions explaining why potential students might be disinclined to attend Pierce, but this lull may be due in part to a simple lack of appeal.
The commercials running on TV and cursory searches over the internet don’t paint an enticing picture of Pierce College. What can be seen is all rather generic, and doesn’t capture the quality of education offered here. The college needs to cultivate a more inviting image, and it needs the resources to do so.
Pierce should allocate funds to an advertising budget that would allow the college to produce more creative and effective means of reaching potential students.
These funds would be independent of the LACCD’s District-Wide Marketing Budget, which is listed in the 2017-2018 LACCD Final Budget. Though this budget states that a reserve of more than $588,000 is available for marketing purposes, not a cent of it was listed as having been allocated to any of the nine college within the LACCD, and no comprehensive marketing campaign is outlined in the document.
Santa Monica College, which boasts in its 2016-2017 Annual Report that its ad campaign “has led to SMC’s 26th consecutive year as number one in transfers to the UC system,” outlines in its Tentative Budget Report that 10 percent of a reserve of over $13 million is to be spent on advertising. The Annual Report also includes a comprehensive marketing strategy that “[uses] the messaging mediums of broadcast radio and their associated digital properties, outdoor transit posters, and select local publications.”
Pierce could use SMC’s ad campaign and breakdown as inspiration for its marketing strategy. SMC’s track record of attracting and retaining students merits examination, at the least.
With a reserve of advertising funds that aren’t divided among eight other schools in some vague, district-wide attempt at attracting students, Pierce could create high-quality media that is focused and interesting.
The college could begin by detailing what makes the Pierce experience worthwhile. Multimedia pieces could capture the creative events organized by the students at the Pierce farm, or the talent of those in the Theatre Department as they put on their various productions. There’s no shortage of attention-grabbing functions and character-building programs at Pierce, but they need to be given the proverbial spotlight for potential students to be drawn in.
The quality of education and the variety of pastimes available at Pierce makes the college unique among other schools both within and outside the district . But Pierce needs to show that to prospective students, not just parrot it in uninspired commercials and bland pamphlets.