A $20,000 Opportunity
Guest Article by Mark Beadle (Sevenstar Academy)
I believe that adding online courses to your school can be a financially positive move. In fact, I will show how it is at least a $20,000 opportunity.
Online courses can help your school:
- Grow new revenue streams
- Retain current students
- Recruit new students
- Expand course selection with fewer resources
- Meet the demand for personalized education
However, before we go further, your school’s mission should drive decisions including this one about online courses. As a former Principal, I know that many good ideas were presented to me. If I did not evaluate them in light of the mission, my school would have quickly gotten off the course God intended for us. As the video below notes, online courses can help with the mission of most Protestant or Catholic schools. Bringing rigor with additional foreign languages, AP courses, dual credit choices from faith based colleges….. helps accomplish a common phrase in mission statements—“Excellence in Education.”
Certainly online courses will not be the magic bullet that solves funding issues. Additionally, if a school does not invest startup money, market the new great (online) option, have time to grow the program and provide a competent leader; online courses should be avoided.
Sevenstar has partner schools that have added new revenue streams of over $500,000. However, as you know, more revenue with equal or greater costs is a losing proposition. In fact you are likely preparing fund raising plans since most tuitions do not cover the real cost of school! I can say with authority that schools that market and plan their online program can easily break even and can produce a positive return. Brian Wall at Faith Christian Academy in Arvada, CO produces a return, after all expenses, of $30,000 on his online program. He notes there are other benefits that exceed these dollars.
The title was not just designed to grab your attention. Online courses represent a $20,000 opportunity if you think of it in terms of retaining current students. This is explained in a more full way on the video below. However, do families sometimes leave you school because the cost is too high for them? Do they sometimes leave because another school offers classes they think their child needs? Would you earn $20,000 for your school if online solutions could solve that for 2 students and the family decides to stay? This area would be fun to explore further in a webinar with your school using your facts.
A similar financial case can be made if online courses would help attract new students—on campus or online (or a blend of both). We have schools tell us they were able to meet the needs of a student and attract the family due to the variety of online course choices available. We have schools that attract students virtually that live in other states or overseas. These students pay a rate set by the school that guarantees the school at least a $1000 positive return per student.
Families today seem to want it all. Online classes can be a way to offer more for less. Usually when you have 10 or fewer students it can be more viable to offer online classes. By the way, studies by the US Dept. of Education show students learn as much or more in online classes.1 Imagine the increased choices you could give students (and often parents would be willing to pay extra). These might be course like Forensic Science, Chinese, Latin or Marine Biology. We also have schools tell us how encouraging the use of online summer courses helps the scheduling for serious students in the fine arts and athletics.
We all desire to personalize education. Finances are a barrier to doing real personalization. Online courses can help by allowing the student to start when they are able, work at their own pace and in a place they are comfortable. Usually you can specify the desired end date for a course and move at the speed that is best for the student. Some juniors and seniors are ready for higher level courses. Imagine offering great courses from the best Christian colleges (online).
I believe that adding online courses to your school can be a financially positive move. A school needs to invest startup money, market the new great option, have time to grow the program and provide a competent leader.
More details, case studies and practical examples can be found on the 3rd video on this link. It is 16 minutes long and is called: “A Financial Case for Online Courses.”