The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 78 · 4 months ago

Making the Case for a Liberal Arts Education


The liberal arts education has evolved. Students not only need skills developed from classic education subjects for career readiness but also to be able to continuously adjust as the world around them changes. They need the ability to learn how to learn. 

Dr. Lake Lambert began his tenure as the 16th President of Hanover College in 2015 and is the former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. In this episode, Dr. Lambert outlines how Hannover College markets the concept of the liberal arts and gives examples of how to use statistics and stories to reach students.  

Join us as we discuss:

  • What does a well-rounded education mean for career readiness
  • How to market to high school students and parents who are often focused on job readiness 
  • Dr. Lambert's thoughts on the value of liberal arts curriculum 

The High Red Marketing podcast is sponsored by the ZEMI APP enabling colleges and universities to engage interested students before they even apply. You're listening to the Higher Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student recruitment, donor relations, marketing trends, new technologies and so much more. If you're looking for conversations centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. I'm here with Bart Taylor and today we talked to Dr Lake Lambert from Hanover College, and Dr Lambert makes an excellent case for a liberal arts education and I think he wouldn't mind if other liberal art educators and marketers took some of the suggestions that we discuss and rise all boats. What say you, Bart? I agree with that. I think that Dr Lambert does a great job of kind of outlining the way that they market the liberal arts at Hanover College and I think that he's very Um, very clear on that with with just being able to articulate that well and give some examples of of how to combine the statistics and the stories with everything. I think it reminds me a lot of the episode that we had with Scott Feller from wabash college his passion about the liberal arts as well, and I know that a lot of schools that are listening to the podcast, I mean you might be a smaller private and liberal arts are a big part of your DNA, and so I think that there's a lot of really good practical advice in this episode for you on how to market that. Here's our conversation with Dr Lake Lambert. Dr Lambert, before we get into the meat of our conversation, I'd like to know if you could share with our listeners. Is there anything interesting your or unique that you've learned recently? Yeah, I was at a meeting with some other college administrators and heard a really interesting presentation on the validity of the Bureau of Labor Statistics UH estimates of career growth in certain fields and what their track record is, which I found very interesting because so many of us in higher education rely on that data to make decisions about academic programs and career preparation programs and and I didn't realize how shaky that data really was and has made me think quite a bit about how much we rely on that data. Thank you if you would. Please tell everyone about Hanover college and a little bit about yourself, how long you've been there, et CETERA. Amber College is a small college located on the Ohio River in southern Indiana. If you we're traveling by a river, which happened when the college was founded in eighteen we were located halfway between Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio, on the Ohio River, and that's how early students arrived at Hanover, was by riverboat. Today Hanover is a college of about eleven hundred students. That includes traditional residential undergraduates, but then also students in our new doctor of physical therapy program and I know Hanover is really known, or I shouldn't say really known, but one of the things that's known for it's this beautiful campus. It is. Our campus is six fifty acre sitting on a bluff over the Ohio River. We occupy about a hundred hundred twenty five of those acres. The rest of it is lush green space. Were over five miles of hiking trails on our...

...campus and it's just a beautiful place to live and to study, and it's a great place if you love the outdoors and and you see that is an important part of your life, in a great way for you to relax and study too. Would really recommend listeners to research and to go out and look at some of the images on your website or by googling Hanover Bart and I would I would even suggest to a little plug for the college tour, because I know that you guys are are gonna are featured on the college tour and, uh, you know, one of our other guests on the episode, Alex Boylan, was on campus with you and uh, I'm sure that they got some gorgeous shots. I saw one of the trailers the other day, and so that would be another way for everybody to kind of start to Um to really experience that. So I wanted to kind of get started on the first question here, Dr Lambert, and it kind of goes a little bit with what you started to say about what you learned about the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the idea that so much of of of career readiness and and and so many times colleges are so focused on which be focused on outcomes, but sometimes we kind of lose sight of we are preparing students for careers that don't even exist yet sometimes. And one of the things that I know in my own background, you know, I went to a small private college that focused a lot on the liberal arts, much like Hanover, that there's a reality that the liberal arts has really evolved and it's it's becoming kind of it's coming back into a very important part of education. Tell us a little bit about that in your thoughts on that. Certainly, the liberal arts has evolved ever since their origins in in the Greek and Roman times to now, and even in an American higher education that's evolved considerably too. When Hanover was founded, the Liberal Arts Mint that you read great books in Latin and in Greek and you read the Bible and he rue and the ancient languages, and that's what an education was and that's really what an education looked like a Hanover for almost a hundred years from its founding. But then as times changed and we began to see the value of teaching about the sciences, teaching in English, uh, and the repertoire of what we consider to be an important part of the liberal arts has changed. That's Pretty Fascinating, Dr Lambert, and I really really like the history of of how you just outlaid the liberal arts education. But I think kind of getting back to kind of the the idea of how critical it is going into the twenty one century, or now that we're in the century and we're not going into it, but how critical it is for students to be able to have more of that well rounded education. Um, why don't we talk a bit about that in the application of what that means for career readiness? Well, in Hannabal we really like to talk about combining a liberal arts education with career readiness, that it's not a choice that a student has to make, but instead they should see it as different parts of the same path, a question of breath and depth, of what I also describe as long term thinking and short term thinking, or an immediate impact in the short term when a student graduates. Yes, absolutely, you need to be career ready, but to be able to continue to adjust and change as the world arounds you changes, you need the long term benefits that the liberal arts curriculum provides, because that was going to develop those great critical thinking skills, the communication skills and expose you to a variety of subject areas that you're going to be able to turn to and build on for the rest of your life. That's great. So I think that kind of what I'm hearing you say is that you know it's not either or. I mean I think sometimes people have always thought in the past, at least. You know, thirty five years ago, forty years ago, when when I went to school, it was kind of like, well, are you going to go this path...

...or you're gonna go this path? And I think that even though I went to one path, it felt like it was the liberal arts, felt a little bit more like it was bolted on rather than what I'm hearing you describe as integrated at at Hanover College, and so I think that's I think that even makes it more relevant. Is that what you're finding with your students? I think it's about relevancy and and it's also about the reality of how the world works. Uh. An employer today wants to know that you can make an immediate impact when you come into their organization. They want to know that you have a certain set of skills in ways that you can add value when you arrive. But then also too, you need to know that over the course of a career in a lifetime that you can adapt to developing into new careers that don't even exist now. So both of those are essential. And the idea that you have to choose, I would say that that type of dualistic thinking is exactly what a liberal arts education always challenges. that. It's not about you just don't choose either or you always have to think critically about how it's it can be both and I love that and I and I remember we had another guest on the episodes on the High Ed Marketer Podcast, Mark mccrendall. He's one of the leading researchers and and uh, actually the person who coined the term generation Alpha, which is the next Alpha that's coming. He was on the podcast number of episodes again and he talked about the idea that it's being predicted, based on the research that he and his firm are doing, that generation Alpha students and for everybody who doesn't know, that is the generation after what we know as generation Z. and so those kids right now are seventh eighth grade, like twelve years old. They will be, you know, they'll be looking at colleges here in the next two or three years. So we're gonna make a quick pivot from generation Z to talking a lot about generation Alpha. But in Mark's research he said that, you know, it's predicted that those kids will have ten to twelve career changes throughout their lifetime. Now, certainly they will have longer lives than we do, but the idea that you know, I remember my dad had one career Um, you know, and and you know a lot of the boomers have have experienced that. But when now we're getting ready to go into an Alpha that's going to have ten to twelve career changes, or at least changes in their job. So that's, you know, all the more reason to me, it seems like for the for the basis of a liberal arts education. I agree completely. It's it's only the world is only accelerating, changes only accelerating and we have to be ready for that. I think the challenge if you're a seventeen year old is understanding what long term thinking means versus short term thinking. I sometimes say that an eighteen year old sooner rise at Hanover College a year is long term. But uh, and so trying to help understand ancer to what the differences between long term and short term is uh, it is a relative and perhaps generational thing too. So we're always trying to educate not only our students, but then also to educating their families and others who are engaged in the decision making, about about choosing a college, paying for college, All all those all those folks are involved in that decision and they need to think carefully about the help those factors as well. Yeah, what I'm hearing you say is that idea of, you know, looking at life focused rather than year to year. Um, that's where, at least for me, I know with my liberal arts education, you know I can I can manage people better, I can understand things that are going on in the world better. You know, having access and have read some of those those great books and and having a little bit more well rounded. I can even tell now, you know, thirty years out of my college education, how big a difference that makes even in my day to day you know what? What I learned as a technique thirty years ago, Poto graphic design major, and so the way that we did a technique back then has changed drastically with the computer age. But what I learned in the way that I thought critically hasn't changed and I used that more every day. Critical thinking and communication are timeless. The things that you communicate about and the things that that you think about may...

...change, but developing those school skills are are essential. And then I'll add to that then the reality that for a lot of folks as they as they move up the ladder from a career perspective, one of the key opportunities that they have to move up and and to make more money for that matter, is to lead and manage people and those types of skills that you develop in a little arts education, empathy, Um understanding of others, uh, the ability to navigate difference, include from different cultures, two different ideas and communicating, those are all key to being a successful leader too, and that's that's only going to make someone's career better long term. That's great. I can't agree more. We talk a lot about it on the show. Schools are really struggling today to make the same at spend work. CPMS are up over year on facebook and instagram. Our College clients are no longer looking for rented audiences. They're looking for an owned community where they can engage students even before they apply. This is why Zemi has become so crucial for our clients. With over one million students, close to ten thousand five star ratings, consistently ranked as one of the top social apps and recently one of Apple's hot APPs of the week, there simply isn't anything out there like it, and we have seen it all. Zem Me not only provides the best space for student engagement, but the most unique and actional data for their one sixty college and university partners. We know firsthand from our clients that Ze me is a must have strategy for Gen z check them out now at colleges dot Zem dot com. That's colleges dot Z E M E dot Com. And yes, tell them Barton Troy sent you. I believe we're all in agreement to what you say and how you describe, especially the combination and but let's talk about how to effectively market that too. Seventeen and eighteen year olds, where, in my opinion, a lot of them are still thinking job readiness. Well, I think that if you don't address that, then then you will have missed your audience, and so you have to come out strong and and and make the case, and as we do it Hanover, that you're gonna be ready for work or ready for what's next immediately after after handover college. Maybe that's advanced education, but maybe that's a job, and we're going to have all of that for you. But it doesn't stop there. It has to be much more and it has to be not only this first job and it has to be that job beyond. So I don't think that you can shy away from answering that immediate concern. And and there's good reasons for families to have that immediate concern and for students. Some of that has to do simply with the cost to higher education. Some of that has to do, I think we have to be very honest, it has to do with debt and wanting to know sort of how college debt and career go together. And so unless we can answer to that question, then I think that we will lose students and then higher and then liberal arts education will be what it was often accused of being and only for the elite. And Uh, and that's not what it is. So so um. So it, how always has to be this both in but I don't mind leading with career readiness. Now sometimes I will tell you that my liberal arts faculty aren't happy with that conversation that I'm that I'm willing to lead and talk about career readiness, but I'm always having the conversation with them that Um that wanting to make a living and to support yourself in your family. There's nothing dishonorable in that. It's there's nothing wrong with that, but on the other hand we have to tell our students that that the only purpose in life is not to make a living. There's much more to life than a job up and and money. So those are always...

...inn the cross points. Yeah, I think that's so good and I know that when we had Peter Ashley, you know, one of the one of the members, they're on your team at Hanover, on the podcast last year and I know one of the things that he talked about was, you know, the way that you guys kind of manage that tension of being able to tell the stories and be able to utilize, you know, video and and very creative means of being able to tell those stories, but also, you know, recognize that some of those stories are going to include the outcomes the career readiness, some of them are gonna include the value of what a you know, what a private education and the value that is inherently there, uh, that sometimes we get lost in, you know, sticker price and and and all kinds of things, that we really have to push that value statement and those those value propositions and then sometimes really kind of being able to clearly articulate the distinctives. And I know Peter, you know, articulated that well and talked a lot about what you all are doing there. But I guess what I'm hearing you saying is that sometimes we've got to yoke those statistics, those data, that outcomes, pull them together into these stories and then we've that together to really create the whole marketing picture rather than just doing it either or, which gets back to you know, what the liberal arts is about is kind of looking at the holistic point of everything and and so maybe you can kind of speak to that a little bit about just even how you, when you talk to parents, are kind of doing that a little bit of that dance of you know, Hey, I've got to talk about career readiness and I've got to talk about the statistics and the data, but I've also got to pull in these stories of of of our alumni and how they're how they're living life. Yeah, it's hard to get excited about statistics. It doesn't matter what the statistic is, and it doesn't matter even if it's the if it's the statistic that you want Um or that your brain says is really good. Uh. And it doesn't mean that those statistics don't matter, but you have to be able to tell a story about a full and complete LFE that shapes around that statistics, because statistics are snapshots. They're they're singularly focused on a certain piece and you can, you can put together a lot of them. But but humans are holistic, and so telling a story really helps us to see the holistic picture. And UH. And then yoking those statistics with stories and and uh or video, especially now. I think that's sort of the way of the future, to be able to tell what that looks like. Those are those are great things and that's one of the things that we're really pleased about the college tour being able to do for us, is to is to make some of the of the outcomes of handover college that we will list in our on our website come alive and the stories of students and and the things that they're doing at Hanover and beyond. Yeah, it's kind of hard to get emotional about statistics, but stories can really stir our oceans and stir us to actions. So that's a really good point. Earlier in the conversation you described UH helping generation Z or future students, understand the difference between a short term play and a long term play, and would like to ask you to expand upon some of the ways that you get them thinking about the long term play as you're marketing to them or even when they're on campus. Well, oftentimes you start only with the student but also with their families who are visiting with them and and the we recognize, and I think this is especially true in Gen Z, that that these are family decisions and so I think talking to the families, often the family, the family and the parents could have a better sense of that long term vision. But I think helping students to understand that your academic major isn't your destiny, being able to tell stories of alumni of the college had majors in certain areas but then ended...

...up in careers that they that they would never have imagined. We have a really good statistical dat to that tracks students and we can say what their their fields of endeavor after Hanover have been from that major and and and they're not. There's not a perfect alignment. And and anyone who has engaged in little large education knows that just because you're an English major doesn't mean that your only option is is to be an English teacher and editor or or or something like that. It your options are almost enlist and and trying to help folks understand that so that they again can see and think long term. UH, study and and be passionate about a certain thing that you that you want to study, but I don't think that that's going to limit your long term options. I love that. I love that because I've I mean I've I've got a you know, I've got, you know, two of my children of are in college, are already graduated. I've got two in high school and you know part of it. You know, I've got wanted a at a large state institution, you know, working, you know, on his engineering degree. I've got another one that went to a private liberal arts school that, you know, focused on he graduated with a journalism degree. And I think exactly what you're saying. There's there's that, there's that benefit that I see that that added element of the liberal arts that that really kind of add and I know that you know a lot of the state schools will talk about the general education elements that they're adding, but there is something a little bit deeper that when you have the the the room and the academic schedule and the room for some more of the deeper level liberal arts, UH, without having to get so focused on some of the tactics, tactics of of you know, a craft or or a you know, a skill, you've got the room to do that. So I think that's such a such a valuable thing to talk about that breadth and depth across the way. Well, I I don't. I think that's exactly right and uh, and it's something that we do on a regular basis and and then it's something that we have to hear because it's not a one time sale. The reality is is that students always have the opportunity. That's sort of when retention is not just about keeping them, it's about making the sale again year after year that they find value in staying and you're always making that case for for why this curriculum is valuable. Dr Lambert, as we closed the episode, would there be either a final thought that you would like to offer that we didn't cover, or maybe a piece of advice that uh people within your role, that you can offer them that they could implement soon after listening to the podcast. The best marketing is to connect stories and Statistics and the degree to which we can do that and what we say in how we communicate the message of obstitution, that's really where the winds are gonna are are going to be found for institutions in recruiting and in retention long terms. Thank you, Doctor. For those that would like to reach out to your contact you after they listen to the episode, what would be the best way for them to do that? Lambert at Andover Dot eedu. Thank you, and I'd also like to put in a plug that. You know, following you on social media is a wonderful follow both you and Hanover College. So we appreciate you putting out what you do. Bart. Do you have a final thought you'd like to share before we closed the episode? Yeah, I just want to highlight a couple of things that Dr Lambert said that I thought were so, so really good, and I really like that last element that he talked about with you know, if you have to, you know, leaving this afternoon and going out and and being able to start looking at how can I start combining the data in the stories? How can I start making this data turn it into poll a story of somebody that's on campus that's actually living out the piece of data that you're trying to communicate and create emotion around that? I think that's gonna be one of the key elements. And then I also really liked what what Dr Lambert talked about.

Is that, you know, all of us, when we talk about retention, sometimes we get so excited about marketing at the beginning, you know, during the admissions funnel, when they're that senior high school, and then we're getting them to matriculate as freshman in high school. I loved what Dr Lambert said about, you know, we have to do the sale year after year and I think sometimes we miss that as marketers, that we we think, okay, well, I've done my part, I've got them in the in the job and now it's student life responsibility, or now it's the professor's responsibility and faculty to kind of keep them around. Actually it's all of us and putting in marketing programs and ways to kind of continue to sell them on. that. I think is so critical and I really appreciate Dr we're kind of pointing that out. And then, finally, I just want to make sure that so many schools that are listening to this are smaller schools and they are going to be Um really trying to think about how do I differentiate myself? How do I how do I? You know, I'm small, I can't do this, I don't have budgets, those types of things. I think a lot of what Dr Lambert has talked about, and especially the smaller schools, you're probably already doing a lot of liberal arts education. Lean into that. Use that as one of your distinctives. Use that as a way to articulate what is different about you than you know, most small privates are competing against the community colleges and the state schools more than they are competing against the other schools, and so how can you differentiate yourself and really help people to see the value in that? So thanks again, Dr Lambert, for being on the show today. It's been such a blessing and a great pleasure to have you on. Thank you both. The Higher Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Kaylor solutions and education, marketing and branding agency and by thing patented, a marketing execution company combining direct mail and unique digital stacks for Higher Ed outreach success. I'm troy singer on behalf of my co host, Bart Kaylor. Thank you for listening. You've been listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you're listening without the PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a quick rating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

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