Case Study: Higher Education Survey

Without data, even higher education institutions are forced to make decisions on gut feelings and assumptions. In this case study you'll learn about how a college took the proper approach of collecting feedback from several constituencies (potential students, family, and employers) in order to make fact-based and evidence-based decisions about school naming and rebranding.

Online surveys are an excellent way to collect feedback inexpensively and quickly. As a result of the value and return of this market research project, the client agreed to partner on a larger package of Speedback Surveys with Drive Research to continually provide data as needed to help guide important decisions at the college.

Case Study: Higher Education Survey

Drive Research is higher education market research firm.


A regional higher education institution partnered with Drive Research and Advance Media New York on a market research study. This market research was used to better understand perceptions, opinions, feedback on school names. The market research study provided the college with a review of the school names and provided the team with data-driven strategies. The market research was also be the first step in the build-out of an internal panel of research participants for future use.


To address the objectives at-hand, Drive Research recommended conducting an online survey. The surveys were separated into 3 audiences but all used the same survey script: (1) potential students, (2) family of prospective students, and (3) employers who hired graduates in targeted geographies.

The market research process fully explored all primary and secondary objectives of the process.

The market research tested 3 to 5 name options for each of the 2 schools, including open-ended word associations and options before being presented with aided names. The data provided insight into which name was most accurately understood and which was most appealing to the audiences.

At the kickoff meeting, the higher education institution team passed Drive Research a list of interested and inquiry students for the research. It also passed Drive Research information on targeted employers in specific geographies.

The online survey included about 15 questions and lasted 3 to 5 minutes. Drive Research passed the college a draft survey for review after the kickoff. Once the document was finalized it was programmed, tested, and shared with the client again.

From there, the survey was soft-launched to approximately 1% of the sample records to test for comprehension and completeness. Then the survey was opened for a full launch of fieldwork. Those who were current employees or had someone in their household working for the school were screened out of the survey in the beginning.

The market research project took approximately 2 weeks to complete. This includes 1 week for the kickoff and survey design, 1 week for fieldwork, and 48 hours for a one-page summary. Those who were invited by email were sent 2 reminders to boost response rates.

A total giveaway of $250 was offered to survey participants as part of a contest. This reward helped encourage participation in the online survey. The client was provided with a passcode protected link which allowed the team to view the results live through the Drive Research survey software.

A total of 935 completed surveys were obtained for this market research project.

Key Findings

The market research report was a mini-one-page summary of findings. At the conclusion of the fieldwork Drive Research sent the higher education institution this draft report. After delivery, Drive Research debriefed with the college at the conclusion of the market research through a scheduled meeting.

What was addressed in the market research report?

When you see or hear the College, what is the first word or phrase that comes to mind?

What program(s) or types of program offering(s) come to mind when thinking of the College?

Which of the following programs does the College offer?

Which of the following certificates or degrees does the offer?

Which of the following schools are a part of the College?

What would be the most accurate name for a school that offered the following?

What would be the most appealing name for a school that offered the following?

What types of programs would you like to see offered at the College?

Which of the following best categorizes age groups do you belong to?

Contact the Market Research Pros at Drive Research

Drive Research is a higher education market research firm for colleges and universities across the country. We specialize in student surveys, focus groups, enrollment studies, mystery shopping and many other market research services.

Contact us at 315-303-2040 or email us at [email protected].

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