Home > higher education, What's in my head now? > Why Are People Who SELL Higher Education Not in School?

Why Are People Who SELL Higher Education Not in School?


If you are sales and marketing in any business, there is a large chance that you have either spoken with an education advisor who has reported to me or I have collected your information at some time. As the online higher education industry is booming, student information is coming from millions of sources and likelihood is you have filled something out at one time or another over the last 7 years that has gone back to a school. If you are in sales and marketing and have not spoken with an education advisor in the higher education arena, please do so. The sales pitches of the advisors who are ‘decent’ will certainly make you think about going back to school.

My question then; WHY are people who sell education – from advisors all the way to the CEO’s – not back in school? We know they don’t all have their Ph.D.s, many don’t have Masters, and about half don’t even have a bachelors degree. In my opinion, selling education without a degree is analogous to me walking into the Gap and the saleswoman saying, “I don’t wear clothes from the Gap; I only shop at Ann Taylor”. If someone is pitching themselves all day on teh reason to go back to school and not going back; why not?

The average online student calling in works full time and has children. They all have ‘something’ going on in their lives, and yet admissions advisors tell them, “No excuses. Life happens. If this is something you want to do, you need to do it.” People engage in higher education for numerous reasons; need more money, job security, career change, career promotion, to feel significant, to be a role model to their children, etc. If you were talking about this all day and marketing or selling this all day, do you think you would talk yourself into going back to school? I know I did.

I’ve been in the higher education sector since graduating from college, specifically – the online education sector and have marketed and sold everything from high school diplomas to Ph.D.s . During my time at these organizations, I was offered full tuition assistance and capitalized on the opportunity by getting a project management certificate as well as taking numerous business courses (my degrees are in psychology and education). Now, I can tell you I learned far more in the ‘real world’, working with some of the most brilliant minds in the higher education space – but we have all seen the job postings that say, “Masters preferred” or “MBA Preferred”. While I’d like to go back and get my MBA, I’m in the “bucket” of students who genuinely believe that through connections and / or experience, I don’t “need” to right now; but I still market and sell the idea to others.

I’ve started asking myself; who am I to encourage others to go back to school if I don’t practice what I preach?

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  1. April 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

    That’s very self aware of you to say. (Especially that last sentence.)

    While I don’t feel that you are necessarily on some kind of sticky wicket just because you sell higher education while not pursuing it yourself, it does beg the question why it is done so often.

    Perhaps because you are secure in where you are in life, but most people who need your advice are not yet so, and hence education is the best answer for them?

  2. Selling With Integrity
    March 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I think you are missing the point about what good selling is about; understanding your customer and their needs. Someone could have legitimate reasons for not continuing with their education, while others could benefit from going back.

    And why can’t a retail salesperson who shops at Ann Taylor not have the ability to understand the needs and desires of someone who shops at GAP? Should an interior designer work only with clients who share their same taste in color? Should a butcher only sell steaks and ground beef because he doesn’t like chicken?

    It comes down to how much effort you put in to learn your market and become a trusted advisor for your clients, not whether you reside in that space as well.

    After all, I could never imagine telling my barber to not cut my hair just because he is bald.

  1. April 7, 2010 at 2:16 pm
  2. April 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm
  3. April 9, 2010 at 12:53 pm

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