CCBC Market Research

Project Overview

Client

Located in Greater Pittsburgh, Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) wanted to cultivate interest in and explore the viability of opening a higher education/training advancement facility in neighboring Lawrence County’s city of New Castle.

Opportunity

Butler County Community College’s New Castle campus, the only community college presence in Lawrence County, was experiencing declining enrollment while also failing to effectively contribute to the local economic environment. Meanwhile, New Castle’s poverty level exceeded 25% of the population, reflecting a need for greater commitment to continued education and workforce development in the area.

The new CCBC site would give students a better affordable higher education option while helping create a closed-loop economic ecosystem between the new site, its students and local existing and future employers. It was an ideal time and opportunity for CCBC to pursue emotional and financial backing from local decision-makers and residents. First, CCBC needed exploratory and one-to-one marketing research to support the need for a New Castle campus and help ensure its success.

Strategy

M:7 Agency started with exploratory research to help determine the most logical audiences to target for the marketing research needed to push the idea forward. Sifting through residential data, government data, and census information, M:7 focused on two main geographical segments — Lawrence County and New Castle; and three main audience segments — potential students (ages 18-25), parents/support system (30-60, incomes 20-40k, with children under 21), and largest local employers and industries (healthcare, manufacturing, retail, construction).

They then tailored person-to-person phone interview scripts for the three specific audiences in order to gain the most current, comprehensive sense of their specific needs and wants when it comes to higher education. After gathering relevant contact information, they placed thousands of phone calls on behalf of CCBC to get the essential answers they needed to lay out a case for a New Castle facility.

Key Findings

Key findings from potential students:

College attendance rate after High School graduation:

%

of respondents who enrolled in college decided to disenroll from college.

Education system in New Castle:

%

believed that the education system in New Castle is somewhat ineffective.

Correlations between affordable transportation and college attendance:

%

felt that affordable transportation to college was very necessary.

Respondents need for affordable transportation to a community college:

%

reported that affordable transportation would be strongly beneficial and would increase their chances of attending.

Program recommendations from respondents:

%

recommended offering Business Programs,

  •  25% Recommended Science Programs.
  • 20% Recommended Healthcare Programs.
  • 10% Recommended Technology Programs.

Interest in flexible learning models:

would be interested in a remote/cyberlearning option.

  • 26.7% had interest in completing a 6-month or 12-month program in New Castle.
  • 20% had interest in completing a 2-year degree.
  • 26.7% had interest in completing a few transferable credits.

Key findings from parents of potential students:

Education system in New Castle:

%

of the parents surveyed reported that the educational system in New Castle is Somewhat Effective.

Correlation between cost of transportation and determination of where to attend college:

%

believed that the cost of transportation was a factor in determining where their child attends college.

Support of child attending a local community college:

%

were very supportive of their child attending a community college in New Castle.

Support of child completing a 2-year degree:

%

were very supportive of their child completing a 2-year degree at a community college in New Castle.

Key findings from Lawrence County employers

Impact of labor shortages among business respondents:

%

A combined 45.5% reported that their organization was moderately or severely impacted by labor shortages at the time.

Level of academic qualification needed for entry-level positions:

%

reported that an Associate Degree is needed for an entry-level position.

Education system in New Castle:

%

Believed that the educational and job training systems in New Castle were highly effective.

Organizations offering training and educational opportunities to current employees:

%

Would or may be interested in offering current employees continued training and education at a community college in New Castle.

Alignment of employment opportunities with a community college in New Castle:

%

Would be interested in aligning their employment opportunities with a community college in New Castle.

Correlation between employment opportunities and completion of an associate degree:

%

Would be interested in offering employment opportunities to students who complete an associate degree.

Correlation between employment opportunities and completion of a 6-or-12-month job training certificate:

%

Would be interested in offering employment opportunities to students that complete a 6-or-12-month training certificate.

Conclusion

Through meticulous exploratory and quantitative market research, M:7 obtained supportive data that showed students, parents, and employers in Lawrence County had an interest in the continued education options and workforce development CCBC would bring to the area.

This aided CCBC’s continued pursuit of a New Castle site and financial assistance in the form of grants and awards. Additionally, they helped CCBC uncover other important variables like convenient, cost-effective transportation; course diversity; and a desire for cyberlearning that would impact students’ decisions to attend.

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