Core Strategy: Investing in Future Growth
As mentioned in the Executive Summary, our basic strategy for program development in the next three years will be based largely upon utilizing existing resources to create sustainable growth. However, in order to look to 2017 and beyond, there will need to be significant growth in departmental infrastructure, and investments made by the larger institution.
- Repositioning Prep/CE as schools that offer conservatory-level teaching to anyone in the community. Being associated with a world-class conservatory sometimes leads people to the mistaken conclusion that all of our programs are exclusive and audition-based. While our large ensembles do require acceptance through audition, this is not an unusual practice for community music school ensembles; and with so many large ensembles in our program (two dozen in Prep alone), there is almost always a level that is suitable for everyone. Anyone can sign up for private lessons, classes, and chamber music, which requires only that the right “match” is available. Emphasizing our open enrollment, along with the high quality of our instruction, will position Prep/CE as accessible and welcoming, which will help boost enrollment.
- Greater web presence and ease in navigation. The Prep/CE pages on the NEC website, while a vast improvement over previous iterations, need continuous updates and content management. Currently, the information flow is not as intuitive as it could be, even to frequent users; and can discourage potential “customers” from taking the necessary steps to move from browsing to registering for classes. In order to reflect the critical role that Prep/CE plays in the life of the college, its portion of the site requires the same level of activity and focus that the college site currently receives.
- Re-tooled marketing campaigns for CE. While most Prep students tend to seek out our programs (often through parents and teachers), potential CE students come to NEC through a wide range of entry points and represent a broad spectrum of interests. With a new and clear focus on CE’s target audiences, our marketing can be strategically segmented into specific campaigns, and leverage all of the media that we currently utilize in new and different ways.
As stated earlier, scholarship in Prep/CE is not only a commitment to investing in our students, but also a useful tool in incentivizing enrollment. Increasing our scholarship level will allow us to support students who would not otherwise be able to participate, and also encourage a greater number of students to enroll by providing accessible tuition levels.
Implementation: Enhanced technology
Online teaching software, technology for distance learning, and database management tools will both generate revenue through expanded teaching capabilities, and result in cost/time savings through workplace efficiencies. In the meantime, we have identified a provider that will enable us to begin offering distance learning courses with minimal capital investment, and we will need only basic equipment to launch an online education initiative. Also, we are proactively developing information management systems that will enable us to move away from our current labor-intensive, paper-driven processes.
Implementation: Human resources
It would be unrealistic to look toward the future and any substantive expansion without factoring in an increase in human resources. For all of these strategies to succeed, Prep/CE will need at least two additional staff members, as well as a salary compensation study for faculty. In the short term, however, many of the program enhancements can be accomplished with existing resources.
Implementation: Enhanced student/family service
Good service manifests in a variety of forms. Currently, Prep/CE staff strive to provide high-quality, one-on-one interaction with all of our students and families in addressing their administrative needs; however, the department lacks the tools and resources to optimize our “customer” experience. Providing greater coverage during the workday and having a more visible presence to students during any on-campus activities requires extra staffing; and having more easy-to-use online tools (enhanced technology) will allow Prep/CE to move to the next level of convenience and administrative efficiency. In the meantime, exploring flexible staff schedules and the strategic use of work-study students will represent a positive step forward, as will the continuous “tweaking” of existing information and content management systems.
Implementation: Programming for new campus development (Prep and CE)
The new campus development will afford Prep/CE an unprecedented opportunity to consider significant growth in program and revenue, which supports the larger strategies outlined in this plan. Opportunities for realistic and sustainable program growth that are a direct result of the new campus development, while subject to many variables yet to be determined, include (but are not limited to):
- Increased programming. The potential of having three or four additional large spaces available to Prep on Saturdays could add thirty to forty more program hours each week. With large ensembles rehearsing anywhere from one to three hours, we could conceivably form 15 new orchestras, wind ensembles, choruses, etc. At current tuition rates, at a conservative average of 30 members per ensemble, that new enrollment would gross approximately $300,000.
- Increased flexibility. Having the space to schedule teacher workshops, jazz cafes, and other non-classroom-specific events would greatly enrich the CE experience. With the current facilities, CE students are often “tucked into” the margins of the College schedule, which restricts opportunities for interaction with the rest of the NEC community. Having enough space to program outside of the classroom would help bring CE students more into the mainstream of NEC life.
- Community partnerships. Access to space—performance, rehearsal, meeting—is one of the biggest challenges facing many of our institutional partners and neighbors. The new campus will enable us to explore new partnership opportunities and initiatives, by allowing us to open our doors to collaborative projects and relationship-building dialogue.
- Concessions. On 30 Saturdays during the year, approximately 1,400 Prep students, each with at least one parent or sibling, spend time on the NEC campus. Neighborhood businesses and eateries have definitely profited from the intense foot traffic—parents and students are regular customers at Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Espresso Royale, Music Espresso, and Panera Bread, to name a few. If even a percentage of that business were to be transacted on campus, Prep constituents could generate thousands of dollars each week.
Of course, such a dramatic increase in programming would require additional staff and faculty resources; however, the exercise of imagining what is possible makes clear the potential financial benefits of new campus facilities.