Shopping for Classes: How California’s Online Education Initiative is Redefining Access to Higher Ed

Podcast November 22, 2019

There are many obstacles that can come between a student and their education, including the ability to drive to class. And even when students aren’t challenged with making the commute to campus, they still have to worry about other things, like whether or not the class they need to graduate is even available. Having an online resource that would connect all of California’s 115 colleges would not only address these challenges specifically, it would improve the overall access to high-quality online courses. In this episode, Andrea Hanstein of the California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI) and Cheryl Broom, president of Interact, discuss the need for an online education resource and explain how this new initiative works.  

Andrea Hanstein’s contact email: ahanstein@cvc.edu


Cheryl Broom: (00:30)
Hi, I’m Cheryl Broom, president of Interact Communications, and I’m thrilled to bring you this month’s podcast that covers everything from advancing your community college career to promoting online education. Have you ever been so impressed with someone that you can remember the very first time you saw them? Well, I have. I saw Andrea Hanstein speak at a National Council for Marketing and Public Relations conference more than a decade ago, and she made an immediate impression. At the time, she was the public information officer for Fullerton College, located in Southern California. Today Andrea is the director of communications and strategic partnerships for the California Community College Online Education Initiative. Through this initiative, it’s easy to search and filter thousands of currently available online courses at California’s community colleges. It’s a resource that’s already making a big impact on student success by allowing students to identify online courses that work for their lives no matter where in the state they live. Through her work on this initiative, Andrea has some great tips to offer on how to promote online education, and she shares what the state’s extensive research has told us about students who prefer to learn online. It’s a great podcast with a great guest. Well, Andrea, thank you so much for joining me.

Andrea Hanstein:
You’re welcome.

Cheryl Broom:
I have to tell you that you are one of the only people who I can say I remember the first time I ever saw you.

Andrea Hanstein:
Was it in Austin, Texas?

Cheryl Broom:
It was!

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, that was the first time I had ever seen you!

Cheryl Broom: (02:01)
So you were our district director for NCMPR, and you were giving the district update. And I remember seeing you up there and thinking, wow, she’s really young. I want to do that.

Andrea Hanstein:
And you did.

Cheryl Broom:
And I did! So you inspired me. And so here we are today, NCMPR District Six again, and you have been in your current role for a couple of years now, the really exciting initiative in the state of California. And I’m really excited to have you on the podcast to talk about it. So why don’t you start off telling us a little bit about yourself, your history, and what you’re doing now.

Andrea Hanstein:
So I grew up in Northern California and then went down to LA to go to school. Go USC. And after getting my bachelor’s degree, I just knew I wanted to work in entertainment PR. I had done an internship for a big company and thought, that’s what I want to do.

Andrea Hanstein: (02:55)
So I worked in entertainment PR for a little while and quickly became disillusioned. So then I went to the corporate PR job for a recruiting company. Same thing. It was interesting, but I just wasn’t passionate about selling the services that they did. And education has always been something that’s been instilled in me from a young age. I’m a child of parents who believe you go to college. It doesn’t matter what else you want to do, you’re going to college for at least a year. So I started looking around and saw a job listing for…what was the position back then? I think it was a PIO at Fullerton College. Never heard of Fullerton College, never had been to a community college, but I had the experience. Thought it was a little bit of a stretch, but I applied. Lo and behold, I got the job.

Andrea Hanstein: (03:48)
I was there for 14 years and two of my colleagues who are still there, as I said, when the three of us, we were all hired within a year of each other. And when we started the job was admin assistant slash public information officer. And we spent a number of years getting the admin assistance taken off and then a couple more years getting our titles changed to director of campus communications. So even though I was there for 14 years, it feels like it was a bunch of different jobs. And then I decided I wanted to go back home to Northern California. So a job opened up at Foothill. I had a colleague and friend who had had the job before and he said, oh, you’d love it. Come up here. It’s a totally different environment. Foothill is in Silicon Valley but it’s kind of out on the edges of town.

Andrea Hanstein: (04:43)
It looks like a country club. Small Fullerton, big urban right down the street from Cal State, Fullerton. So I went and worked at Foothill and I was there for three years, a little over three years, and then heard about this initiative. Actually, funny story, I was asked to be on the hiring committee because they were creating this marketing position for the OEI where I now work. And I was on the hiring committee and it was unsuccessful, and I gave some feedback of why I thought it was unsuccessful. And for example, you know, it was this high-level director position, but the person also had to be a graphic designer. And I remember counseling them. You know, I, for example, I’m a director level position. I could not design a flyer to save my life. So they rewrote the job. And what’s funny is my current boss was on the hiring committee with me.

Andrea Hanstein: (05:41)
He was promoted, rewrote the job description, and I applied, and here we are. And we both laugh at each other because, on the hiring committee, he thought I was kind of loud and obnoxious and like, why was I pushing for this? And now all these years later he’s glad that that’s what I pushed for. So you never know how things will turn out.

Cheryl Broom:
And does he understand now that directors don’t necessarily know those jobs?

Andrea Hanstein:
Yes. Yeah. I just saw a tweet about that a couple of weeks ago saying something like if I see another job description for a high-level director that also says you must be, you know, an InDesign expert… I don’t remember what they said they would do, but I just thought, yes, totally. So.

Cheryl Broom:
Well, what a big change from working on a college campus to now working on an initiative. Tell me more about what the initiative is.

Andrea Hanstein: (06:32)
So our official name is the California Community Colleges California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative. We are affectionately referred to, though, as OEI. And so what we do is we work with the state’s existing colleges. We use a consortium model, so colleges apply to join the OEI. We currently have 57 colleges. And what we’re doing is working with those colleges to improve the quality of their online courses, also encouraging them and helping facilitate conversations around online student support services. I don’t think it’s a shock to anyone to know that, nationwide, online success rates are lower than their face-to-face counterparts. It’s getting better, but it’s still, there’s a gap. And one of the things that we have found through research is you can offer a class online, but if there’s not online counseling, online tutoring, that student is not going to be successful.

Andrea Hanstein: (07:30)
So we work with colleges to get the services and the high-quality courses and then turn around and increase access to those courses for our students in the state of California.

Cheryl Broom:
Wow, wonderful.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah.

Cheryl Broom:
So what exactly now is your role as the marketing director?

Andrea Hanstein:
Gosh, well, it changes. So one thing, and actually is I’m here at the conference, I’m doing a presentation on managing up, down, and across. And one thing I have learned in this environment, I liken it to a startup. So there is what my job says I do, and then the other duties as assigned. So when I took this job, the official title is communications and strategic partnerships. So in terms of communication, you know, working with our colleges to market their online offerings, also doing some internal marketing because, for those of you not from California, there’s 115 now of us colleges. So just communicating who we are and what we do.

Andrea Hanstein: (08:30)
California also has quite a few initiatives as you know. So trying to make sure we differentiate ourselves from the other initiatives. You know, an affectionate phrase around the state is initiative fatigue, that it feels like there’s a new initiative. So how do we communicate the value of what we do and don’t be fatigued, you want to do this. And then in terms of partnerships, I work with all of our vendors. So we have a suite of student services that we offer, that we pay for for our colleges. So I deal with the vendors actually was just on Slack with my boss before I was here and he said, when you’re done, will you call me? I need to strategize. So I do a lot of just bouncing things off with him cause he’s traveling around the state and I’ve also gotten into planning and helping do project management.

Andrea Hanstein: (09:18)
So that is one plus I will say. And you having made a similar leap, the consistency at a college is fantastic, but going to work for an agency or initiative, I think you do have a chance to grow a little bit more in areas that you might not be able to at a college.

Cheryl Broom:
Right, right. And we were talking before the podcast about how different it is working for an initiative than it is working on a college campus.

Andrea Hanstein:
For me, you know, I have been in the system now for…it’s 19 years, like in two weeks.

Cheryl Broom:
Wow! And you still look that young as the day I saw you.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, I know. I’m still 22. Yeah, I don’t get mistaken for a student as much as I—and I remember when I would get mistaken for a student, it would bug me, and now I’m like, I wish they would think I was a student. But, for me, at times… I don’t want this to be negative to anyone who is working at a college.

Andrea Hanstein: (10:15)
It became very cyclical. And you and I were talking about that, that, you know, every February I knew, okay, it’s time to call the commencement committee and start putting commencement together. And then, you know, in July I knew, oh, it’s time to ping the president, get started on opening day. And oh, it’s, you know, the first week of September. I better get a late start campaign going. So I found all these years later I wasn’t being as challenged as I had. But you know, one of the questions that I have always asked my teams is, you know, why do we do this job? We don’t do it for the money. We don’t get bonuses. And for me, whenever I would ask this, I would tell my reason is, you know, we put up with a lot at community colleges. There’s a lot of red tape, we’re not funded as well as our counterparts.

Andrea Hanstein: (11:06)
But when I would go to commencement and you would see those students and you’d hear their stories, I’d go, okay, that’s why I would do it. And kind of the cheesy expression: that fills my tank. So I knew I didn’t want to leave community colleges, but I just knew for me, I had kind of stopped growing in the position that I was in. And so this… You know, I knew what online education was. Foothill is a big online education school, so I knew what it was, but there’s a lot I didn’t know and I thought, you know, this is something where I have talents I can bring to it and I can also really grow. And it’s almost two years to the day that I’ve been in this job and I have grown so much. So, it’s scary, as you know. But if growing and being challenged is of importance to you, I really highly encourage people to try something different.

Cheryl Broom: (12:01)
It’s hard to leave your comfort zone.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah. You take things for granted, just, you know, being on a college campus and knowing the ins and outs and then going and doing something else, which is, you know, just a totally different mindset and set of rules. So yeah. But it’s a good thing. I have really enjoyed it. I am never bored in my job. That is for sure. I feel like when I was, you know, the last couple of years of my job at Foothill, I was, I was coasting a little bit, you know, I could, I could coast and I can’t coast right now. I really have to bring my A game.

Cheryl Broom:
Well, and I think it’s really interesting cause you—it is a startup. You’re the first, you’re making this position. And the initiative is brand new. How have you tackled getting buy-in and how have you developed communication strategies to convince people to join the initiative?

Andrea Hanstein: (12:57)
So one of the things that I said when I took this job, being in the system for as long as I have, and I have always found in the PIO community of the California Community Colleges­—and actually nationwide, I find this true—we are always willing to share and be there for each other to vent, to share, to commiserate, to cheer each other on. And so I really leveraged that in this job and said, I know people in the state and I can have those conversations about why this is a good thing and why your college needs to take this on. So I still believe in, you know, word-of-mouth marketing or grassroots marketing, however you want to say it. And again, I know California is bigger than those other systems, but, you know, having 114 colleges, that’s 114 presidents, CIOs, CSOs, PIOs.

Andrea Hanstein: (13:55)
So for me it’s about really fostering those relationships, and even outside of the marketing community, you know, when you’re in the system for that long and people move and a lot of my colleagues, when we go to conferences, we’ll say, oh my God, you know everyone. And I have always made it a point, when I was at a college, to not just befriend, ‘cause it was also strategically from a work angle, but to get to know the VP of instruction, the student services dean, because you don’t know where those people are going to go in their career. And so that’s really helped me. I think it’s an advantage that our initiative has is, you know, we have people who have been in the system for a long time and we’re willing to go negotiate those personal relationships.

Cheryl Broom:
Really, really important. Those bridges, definitely through your career.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yes. Yeah, yeah. 100%.

Cheryl Broom:
So beyond just supporting, doing some support for the wraparound services, the initiative also focuses on trying to get students to take online courses, maybe to finish a degree, a certificate, and educates them that they can take a class anywhere in the state and have it count towards their degree or certificate. So tell me about how that’s working.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, so the whole initiative was the brainchild of our former governor, Jerry Brown. He had read an article about MOOCs. So for those of us who’ve been around, those are massively online open courses I think is what they—

Cheryl Broom:
Is it still a thing?

Andrea Hanstein:
They exist, but it’s not a thing. They were thing for a while. And then, you know, the more they sprung up, you found out the success rates were not there. But he had heard about that and thought, oh my gosh, California’s higher ed system needs to get in the business of MOOCs. And he had some analysts and some leaders in our state who said, love your enthusiasm, love the thought behind it, but maybe MOOCs aren’t the way to go.

Andrea Hanstein: (15:56)
And so he came up with this idea for the Online Education Initiative. It was started in 2014, is when it was in its infancy. And so what that’s doing is giving our students in California access to higher quality classes than they had before, and services. So it can be for all different kinds of reasons. You know, working in California, I remember we were hiring someone in Fullerton and she came from out of state, and she told us that she got in the car at John Wayne Airport said, oh, take me to the community college. And they were like, which one? Because on the way from the airport to Fullerton you pass like six different colleges. So we know, in California, students are taking classes at different colleges. So if that’s the reality, how can we make that easier? So that’s one aspect. We also know that in some of our more rural community colleges, they may not have the resources to offer a full complement of classes.

Andrea Hanstein: (17:01)
And so, because we want them to have their students be successful and complete, if they can offer the lower division, but then the student can go online and take classes without, you know, having to switch schools or move. And we see that also in some of our rural communities. I was actually having a conversation with someone in our inland Southern California area that in her community it’s expected a lot of times that when the kids graduate from high school, they stay and they work and they help the family out. So how are they going to go to school? They don’t live near community college, so they can’t be driving an hour each way every day cause they’ve got to be working. So this provides them with access. And then, you know, just the way California works, our students are busy. We have a high cost of living, I would say officially now all across California.

Andrea Hanstein: (17:55)
So our students are working, they have childcare issues, they have transportation issues. So even for some of our metropolitan students, they need to have another option besides face-to-face. So this really allows us to serve, you know, the—I’m trying to remember what the number was, but I feel like it’s over 8 million higher education students in the state of California now.

Cheryl Broom:
So if I’m a student, let’s say I’m a student at Crafton Hills College. And I have a couple classes left that I need to graduate, but maybe they’re only offered in spring semester, and I, like, want to do it in fall. How could they use your tool to figure out where they can go and get those classes?

Andrea Hanstein:
So what they would do is we have a website, CVC, which is the California Virtual Campus, which that has been in existence for decades. We took that and kind of brought it into the current century.

Andrea Hanstein: (18:50)
So what that student would do is they would go to CVC and they could search using a variety of criteria. If you knew, hey, I just need to take Spanish, you could type in the word Spanish and you could put parameters. You know, I need it to start in April and be done by June. I need it to be this many units. And it would bring up a list of all the California community colleges that are currently offering that course in this term or the future term. You can also search, it’s maybe California lingo, but by IGETC or CSU-GE breadth requirements. So if you knew, I don’t know what I need to take, but I know I’m short in 2C of my IGETC, you could type in, I need a 2C requirement and it’ll bring it all up for you. It tells you if there are seats available.

Andrea Hanstein: (19:44)
And then what we’ve done is also taken it a step further. Through the OEI, we have professional development courses where faculty can align their courses to a rubric that has been, you know, deemed high-standard. So we have quality badges. So the student knows that faculty member has taken additional steps to make their course engaging. You know, gone are the days of, you know, like in the eighties, distance ed where a faculty member just stood in front of a whiteboard. That is not what online education is. And then we also have badges if that college has online counseling, online tutoring, online proctoring. So a student can be assured, I may live 70 miles away, but I will still have access to all of the services that I need.

Cheryl Broom:
So do the students still have to apply for the other—?

Andrea Hanstein:
So currently, yes. So what they would do is, so if you’re at Crafton Hills and you saw a class at Sacramento City, it would show you and you would say, okay, I want to apply for that course.

Andrea Hanstein: (20:44)
And it would take you into CCCApply, which is the state’s application system. We are working—and we have a couple of colleges piloting this right now—on something called automated cross enrollment, which would allow you, if you’re at Crafton, you see the class at Sacramento City, you click, I want to take that, you click on a consent form and all your information is transferred to, we have what’s called home college and teaching college. So home college is Crafton. That’s where you’re a student, and the teaching college is where you’re taking the class. So, you know, by magic, on the back end, your information is all transferred. You do not have to fill out another application. So again, really removing those hurdles for students. I know that in your mind you think, well, what’s the big deal? They have to fill out another application. For a lot of students that is a big deal.

Andrea Hanstein: (21:32)
And one of the things also that cross enrollment does is allow their financial aid status to transfer with them and if they have any accommodations, that travels with them. So it’s really simplifying the experience for students.

Cheryl Broom:
As you’re talking about this, it’s so exciting.

Andrea Hanstein:
It’s revolutionary. It really is. Yeah.

Cheryl Broom:
It is so exciting. And I think about students I’ve taught who have taken a semester off because they couldn’t get in the class they needed or it didn’t fit in their schedule or it wasn’t taught online at our college, but they didn’t know how to connect to another college. So, I mean, I can see—like I’m already building campaigns in my head. You’re, you know, like, do a degree audit on your campus, and see who’s got one or two classes left and send them to this tool.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, and so one of the things that we have started doing is putting online associate degrees for transfer.

Andrea Hanstein: (22:28)
That’s another California project where a student can complete their lower division and they’re guaranteed admission into a CSU. We’re working with UCs and privates. So we’ve started putting up just completely online degrees ‘cause there’s nowhere in the state. Again, say you’re a student living in rural Imperial County in California, you could take an entire degree online. We’re also starting to list completely online certificates. So, you know, again, to lessen the hurdles for students. That’s why we’re all here. And you know, I know, when I started my career I was in a multi-college district and one of the battles you have a lot is what’s the role of the district and what’s the role of the college. And actually when I was at Fullerton College, we hired Interact to do a community survey for us because we were rebranding, and they went out and they found, you know, people don’t identify with the district, they identify with the college.

Andrea Hanstein: (23:23)
And so one of the things that I really had to think about when I joined this initiative was should a student know what the OEI is or should they just know what their local college is? And, you know, kind of the thought that I arrived at was the beauty of the OEI is the student is still in touch with the college, but it’s harnessing the power of these 115 colleges through course inventory. And so that, to me, is the balance of how do you marry that statewide perspective with the college identity. And so this, to me, is a good marriage of the two, where we’re providing students access by saying we are a system, and maybe your college doesn’t have that course, but there’s 114 other ones out there that do. So that’s been a neat realization to come to.

Cheryl Broom:
And what kind of research? You told me earlier that you are so glad that you did research.

Andrea Hanstein: (24:21)
Yeah. So, again, I think marketing in higher ed has been a little slow to come to that. But I think more of us are realizing the importance of research. And so we went out and did research with our internal community. You know, so we went out and talked to faculty and we talked to instructional deans, instructional VP, student services, just to see, you know, A, with everything going on in the state, you know, what’s your take on it, what do you see the role of online education, how can we help you? And then we also, with the partnership with our statewide foundation, went out and interviewed students to talk about what is it that you’re looking for and what would be a good system for you? And the really nice thing was we, every year, with OEI, do a work plan that’s approved by the chancellor’s office.

Andrea Hanstein: (25:12)
And the last two years that has been a line item in our work plan that we will always do student and internal-facing research before we launch a product. And that we’ll do quarterly research even once the product is launched. So for me, that, you know, we can sit and think we know what everyone thinks and wants, but we don’t. And so that was so important to go out there and get the lay of the land. So I encourage everyone, when you’re doing a product launch or rebranding or what have you, do your research.

Cheryl Broom:
And I think that us marketers know that, but it’s hard to convince the president or the VPs who might be impatient, who want to see enrollment gains, as to why you need the research.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, I remember a little project. So, when I was at Foothill, enrollment was declining. And that has, you know, millions of reasons why.

Andrea Hanstein: (26:08)
But one of the things I thought was, and I actually think Pam might’ve given me this idea years ago, we still printed—thankfully we do not anymore—an annual catalog. And we did a catalog scavenger hunt and they—students could not find what they were looking for. And one of the things that came out of that was the way we write course descriptions is so prescriptive and you have to go through this approval process and you have to have all these things in it. And students were saying, I don’t even understand what that course is. And then when we would tell them what it is, they were like, oh my gosh, I would totally take that. So we started a pilot with our English department to rewrite their course description. We rewrote what we called marketing course descriptions. So, you know, legally, the catalog is a legal record and that has to have certain things in it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a website that has the marketing descriptions of these courses that then links to the more, this is how many units, this is the learning outcomes.

Andrea Hanstein: (27:12)
And they, in just one semester, saw double-digit enrollment gains just by writing fun, you know, plain English, this is what this course is. And so that, you know, a little project, but again, had an inkling and went out. We had a researcher at the college and she went out and grabbed a bunch of students and did testing and that’s what we found out. So I think you always just need to push for it and become good friends with your campus researcher. That’s an integral relationship.

Cheryl Broom:
I can speak from experience that most researchers like chocolate.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yes. Yeah, Ghirardelli. Yep, exactly.

Cheryl Broom:
Not the cheap stuff.

Andrea Hanstein:
Uh-uh. It’s gotta be good.

Cheryl Broom:
You’ve got to invest in them.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah. Yeah. And bringing in outside firms. At the colleges I’ve been at, the institutional research, they’re pretty overwhelmed because they’re researching everything. So I’ve hired a number of firms on different projects. So that’s another thing.

Andrea Hanstein: (28:07)
It’s worth the investment.

Cheryl Broom:
Definitely. For sure. So colleges in California who are interested in becoming part of the OEI, how do they make that happen?

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, so later this fall we will be putting out a call and doing some solicitations for additional colleges. And, you know, one of the things, since I’ve taken this job, that I’ve really made a priority is to involve the marketing person in the OEI when they join, because the project can’t be successful if the marketing person doesn’t know it and they’re not building it into their comms plan and they’re not talking with their online dean or their D coordinator. So, yes, you have to have the buy-in of your online coordinator. But if anyone thinks this sounds interesting, it is a definite enrollment gain. Since we launched the CVC less than two years ago, we’ve had more than 7,000 completed applications from students looking to take courses.

Andrea Hanstein: (29:05)
So if this is of interest to anyone in a marketing role, you know, please reach out to me. I would love to talk to you and I may know who your online person is and can help facilitate that conversation. And also if you are one of our 57 colleges and you don’t feel like you’re involved or in the know, to reach out to me as well, because working with Los Rios Community College District, which is in Sacramento, a very large district, their district vice chancellor of marketing communications has taken a really active role with us and they’re seeing the benefits of actively participating. With all the initiatives in California, I would say that marketing needs to be involved, and I think marketing and communications often gets left out. It’s like, oh, we have an initiative called Guided Pathways. That’s for the academic team to worry about.

Andrea Hanstein: (29:56)
No. Marketing needs to be in that conversation. If your online person is kind of keeping this sequestered, don’t let them, and I’m happy to help facilitate that.

Cheryl Broom:
I know as soon as that marketing gets brought in, when things start going bad.

Andrea Hanstein:
Or at the very, very tail end, like we developed this whole thing and now you have to market it. And really, you know, that’s what I talk about in this presentation I’m doing tomorrow. That marketing needs to be in from the ground up. You don’t just develop the product and then have the marketing person, you know, put a bow on it. So I guess that would also be a little bit of advice, you know, involve yourself in these initiatives. Go find out. You know, no matter what state you’re in, I know you have initiatives and directives from your state. Go find out what your college is doing and play a role in that.

Cheryl Broom: (30:41)
Right. And sometimes you shouldn’t wait to be asked.

Andrea Hanstein:
Correct.

Cheryl Broom:
You’ve got to stand up.

Andrea Hanstein:
Because you’re not going to be asked typically ‘til the very end, if at all. Yeah.

Cheryl Broom:
Now, how are you marketing the initiative to potential students?

Andrea Hanstein:
So, my perspective has always been to work collaboratively with our colleges. So we do co-branded materials, we do some media buys, and it was defined by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a student who lives 20 or more miles from a physical campus. So that’s kind of the only statewide advertising that we’ve done. Other than that, it’s working with the colleges, you know, how can this fit into your marketing plan? We’re starting to make connections with some of our programs throughout the state, like Strong Workforce, saying, okay, you know, how can our goals align with yours and we can reach students in your region? Just my philosophy has been working in partnership with our colleges, not separate from them.

Andrea Hanstein: (31:39)
You know, again, students identify with the college, and so I want them to know the power and the, just the scope of what the system is. But I also want them to know that this is their college that they trust and they know, and even just seeing their logo on a postcard, they see, oh, okay. You know, whatever. Mt. SAC does know them. This is a Mt. SAC project and I’m down with this. Yeah.

Cheryl Broom:
And that’s such a good example of the system helping the colleges and colleges helping the system. And it means symbiotic rather than prescriptive.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Cheryl Broom:
So, five years from now—

Andrea Hanstein:
Aah! Don’t ask me that!

Cheryl Broom:
As the, as one of the leaders in the industry, where do you see yourself?

Andrea Hanstein:
You know, I would still love to be with this initiative. So we have funding through 2023, which isn’t five years, but I would love for us to be renewed again and I would love to see, at that point, all of our colleges are cross-enrolling students and we’re continuing to help more and more faculty improve the quality of their courses.

Andrea Hanstein: (32:54)
Like I said earlier, for me, I have to believe in what I do and I believe in this initiative and what it’s trying to accomplish. You know, does that mean I have days where I pull out my hair or I think I don’t want to go into work. But when you believe in what you’re doing, you persevere because you know that it’s worthwhile. So, I’m going to say that in five years the OEI will still be here and it will have grown, and, you know, working more on those central services that we can bring to students. Like, for example, a complete statewide inventory of all online degrees. Like, that would be a dream. And we’ve heard students say that, so I hope we’re, in five years we’ve grown and we’re flourishing and we’re taking the next step. Yeah.

Cheryl Broom:
It sounds like a good vision.

Andrea Hanstein: (33:45)
Yeah.

Cheryl Broom:
I’m gonna be cheerleading, like, from the sidelines, because I think it’s just such an amazing initiative.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, it is. It’s pretty revolutionary.

Cheryl Broom:
And the last thing I just wanted to touch on is colleges are starting to try themselves to promote online certificates, online degrees. Do you have any tips for what students find important?

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, I think, you know, not just marketing the courses, but marketing your services is so key because, again, you know, yes, online has all sorts of people, but one of the biggest motivators is because there’s a reason why you can’t get to campus, whether it’s time, finances, transportation, like I said, childcare, but really marketing that this is a whole experience, not just you can take this one class, that there’s services. Also really promoting the interactivity of online classes. I think there are still a lot of people who think it’s this very lonely and solitary experience and it’s not.

Andrea Hanstein: (34:53)
I actually took my first online class when I was in grad school and I am still friends with people to this day who I took that class with. And I’ve, you know, had some of my employees who have taken classes and it really is, you connect with people and, you know, one of the things we say is, for example, if you have a student who’s very shy, and in a face-to-face class might not normally speak up, online allows you some level of anonymity. And so we see that those students are more likely to participate. So I think really marketing the fact that it’s a complete experience and you are going to form connections with your instructor and your fellow classmates. And looking beyond traditional ways that you maybe market face-to-face, ‘cause online does open an entirely new world, and not that you can’t market face-to-face digitally, but, you know, I would hope you would market online digitally and, as you know, your money can go a lot further because you can really target who you’re looking for.

Andrea Hanstein: (35:57)
And, you know, back like when you and I started and it was let’s do an ad at the movie theater, you had no idea who was seeing that movie. You were just throwing money. Whereas now you can really target that and then see who’s responded. So really do some targeted marketing for online. You know, looking at people who have young children, looking at, you know, different area codes that are not— One of the issues, excuse me, we had at Foothill was we had one bus line, so students who were from the neighboring town, it could take them an hour to get there using the bus because it was so bad. So we would market, when I was at Foothill, we would market our online classes in those zip codes because we knew it was easier for them to just hop online.

Andrea Hanstein: (36:43)
So kind of, I hate the expression, but think outside the box.

Cheryl Broom:
Great. I already have like 400 ideas. Yeah, if anybody wants to learn about online marketing, give me a call. You’ve inspired me. Was there anything else you want to touch on?

Andrea Hanstein:
No, just happy to be here and I love to talk about this, so.

Cheryl Broom:
Well, it’s a really exciting initiative and thank you so much for coming to do the podcast.

Andrea Hanstein:
You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Cheryl Broom:
And I feel like we’ve come full circle ‘cause it’s been, I think, 15 years since I first saw you in Austin.

Andrea Hanstein:
Yeah, I know. Well, talking about how old your kids are, like, oh yeah, I’ve known you for a long time.

Cheryl Broom:
It’s been a long time and you’ve had a great career and I am really excited to see—

Andrea Hanstein:
We’re an example of why you should foster relationships, ‘cause you never know where it’ll go.

Cheryl Broom:
Well, thank you so much.

Andrea Hanstein:
You’re welcome.

Cheryl Broom:
And I’m looking forward to seeing you speak at the conference.

Andrea Hanstein: (37:31)
Thank you.

Cheryl Broom:
And if anybody wants to get ahold of you, what’s the best way to do that?

Andrea Hanstein:
Probably email. Do you want me to spell it?

Cheryl Broom:
Go ahead. Yeah, please.

Andrea Hanstein:
ahanstein@ C as in cat, V as in Victor, C as in cat .edu.

Cheryl Broom:
Perfect. And we’ll put that in the show notes, too.

Andrea Hanstein:
Great.

Cheryl Broom:
So, thank you.

Andrea Hanstein:
Thank you, Cheryl.

Cheryl Broom:
That wraps up this edition of Community College Marketing MasterClass. If you’re interested in more tips and tricks around community college marketing, make sure to check out Interact’s news page at news.interactcom.com where we have blogs, articles, podcasts, and more. Thank you so much for joining us. Until next time.


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