Capacity Building in the Modern Higher Ed Landscape

Not all partnerships are created equal. Anyone who’s partnered with a marketing agency, hired a freelancer, or contracted for vendor services knows that. I started my career collaborating with partners who relied on the expertise of an online program manager (OPM). Later, I founded my first company to support colleges and universities that wanted to manage their students’ journeys independently, but lacked sufficient marketing knowledge and resources. Today, I work with our teams at Archer Education to create higher ed partnerships that are more than just collaborations: We cultivate relationships that are holistic, tailored, and mutually invested. 

Having spent 15 years building, launching, and growing online degree programs, it’s become clear to me that the traditional OPM relationship is outdated. Applying a one-size-fits-all approach to each new program, regardless of its specific needs, no longer works in today’s competitive market. While the OPM model may have been effective in a high-growth market in which institutions needed investment, differentiation is now crucial to standing out and capturing students’ attention.

That’s why Archer has developed a new approach: online growth enablement. This unique partnership model focuses on capacity building through organizational development, market research, and custom-fit marketing, recruitment, and retention solutions. As an online growth enablement company, we help drive sustainable enrollment and prepare colleges and universities to deliver online student experiences with less dependence on third-party providers. 

This approach isn’t for everyone. As a mutually invested party, we vet out partners for sustainability and fit to ensure the relationship will be beneficial to both sides. But for higher education institutions that meet our parameters, the partnership can transform their trajectory toward building online infrastructure that enrolls and retains today’s modern students.  

Why Capacity Building Is Essential in Higher Ed 

Change can be ugly, hard, and overwhelming — especially in a higher ed institutional context where everyone from students and alumni to faculty, administration, and staff feel the impact. But in an evolving landscape where students’ needs are drastically shifting to the online space, a change in mindset to focus on capacity building is necessary. 

When it’s pursued correctly, capacity building enables: 

  • Development of the people, processes, and technology needed to establish and streamline each functional area of the online student journey 
  • Risk and opportunity management and joint accountability
  • Higher persistence rates and retention of more students through graduation 
  • Increased control over the student experience
  • Flexibility when filling critical resource and knowledge gaps  
  • Integration of critical systems and technology to provide visibility and empower performance management throughout enrollment and the student journey  

Capacity Building Definition

Capacity building refers to the development of skills, competencies, infrastructure, and resources that enhance an institution’s ability to grow and scale its online programs sustainably. These foundational blocks become part of the blueprint we build with our partners.

The emerging preference for online education isn’t going away. At Archer, we know the challenges that institutions trying to break into the market face, and we help them build a sustainable strategy for the future. That’s why our multifaceted approach focuses on both immediate and long-term growth, positioning your institution for continuous success.

How Partnering With Archer Education Works

Every university brand has its own strengths, challenges, and path for growth, which is why we take a custom approach to building your institution’s strategic road map. Put simply, our job is to amplify your team. If you have robust creative capacities, we’ll work with you to create assets for enrollment campaigns. If you need a better understanding of the adult learner market, we’ll conduct the research to fill that gap. 

It’s all about our team and yours coming together to carry out a seamless, holistic enrollment strategy. Here are the basic steps to get that done: 

  1. Develop your people, processes, and technology by aligning your internal team with your goals, attracting and retaining internal functional experts, and building collaborative relationships with your deans, staff members, and OPMs (when present).   
  2. Increase transparency and accountability by integrating your systems and technology, developing a real-time reporting infrastructure, and building mutual trust among your team through frequent communication. 
  3. Grow your enrollment by providing a personalized student experience, elevating your brand to increase organic traffic, and prioritizing the student journey to improve outcomes. 

Through our online growth enablement processes and our understanding of and experience with critical success factors, we’ll assess your current resources and risks, and then work with you to fill any immediate capacity gaps and streamline your operations to reduce your cost per enrollment and enable you to pursue scalable program expansion.

Why Institutions Need to Stay in the Driver’s Seat 

Most institutions look to online growth to expand their financial viability. Yet traditional OPM partnerships bleed institutions of critical tuition dollars that could be reallocated toward continued growth and innovation. At Archer, we believe that partnership means autonomy. We’re not here to take over. We’re here to empower your internal capabilities so that you rely on us less over time. 

Our partners maintain control over their direction, curriculum, and branding. We fortify that vision with tested expertise, unflinching support, and a suite of services that supplement your institution’s competency gaps. You stay in the driver’s seat, and we’re the extra set of eyes helping you navigate the road ahead. 

Engage Archer Education for Your Capacity Building 

Higher education is facing a wave of challenges. The enrollment cliff, declining undergraduate enrollments, and increased demand for skills-based learning over traditional degree programs are all trends that cannot be ignored. 

To face these challenges head-on, partnerships will need to be vastly different from what they were in the days of OPMs. Institutions must maintain control over their brands, student experiences, pedagogy, teaching, and revenue. Transparency and accountability must play together to create strong relationships that support student outcomes. 

Archer Education has a proven track record of constructing tailored solutions that fit each of our partner’s needs across marketing, enrollment management, and retention. In a highly competitive and saturated market, we’re the differentiator that helps your institution win. Contact us now to request more information about how we can empower your institution to thrive today, and tomorrow.