Client Spotlight: Michigan Association of State Universities

In Client Spotlight by David Waymire

Michigan has a serious problem—and it’s not too few plumbers.

Michigan ranks 39th in the nation in the share of college graduates in its population 25 and older.  Today, about 61 percent of Michigan high school students continue their education beyond high school, down from 66 percent a few years ago—and well below the national average of 69 percent.

The Lumina Foundation recently estimated that Michigan will fall short of the number of skilled trades and community college grads it needs by 126,000 persons over the next 18 months. In contrast, it will fall 171,000 short of the number of four-year college degree holders needed to fill jobs. All of which translates to our status as a bottom 20 state in per capita income, even at a time when the auto industry is operating at peak capacity.

The Michigan Association of State Universities is stepping up to bridge that gap, and Martin Waymire is proud be on board to help.

MASU just authorized Martin Waymire to undertake a two-year effort to raise awareness among high school students, their parents, and state policymakers about the strong need and remarkable value that earning a college degree can bring to an individual – and his or her family down the road.

To reach our goal of increasing college enrollment and state support for higher education, we are using the Martin Waymire RACE process – Research, Action Plan, Communicate, Evalute — which we adhere to religiously. And we are pleased to be working closely with our strategic partners at Brogan & Partners, one of the state’s top advertising agencies.

While the state’s current college participation situation is bleak, there’s good news—based on very encouraging initial polling. Unlike some policymakers in Michigan who downplay the value of a college degree (except for their own children), the public gets it. We found very strong support for higher education in our state, with 78 percent of those polled saying it was a good investment, and 87 percent saying a four-year degree was important to having a good career.

More than 80 percent of high school children’s parents said they expected their child to get a four-year degree or better, but focus groups and survey results show many parents are worried about costs, and are unaware of financial aid that knock tuition down by an average of 40 percent.

You will soon be seeing ads and earned media messages that help raise awareness of the opportunities a four-year college degree can deliver, and how any student can open the door to those opportunities by filling out the Free Aid for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We are confident the messages, messengers and tactics will help increase the college-going rate of high school graduates in Michigan.

It’s just another way Martin Waymire—and our partners at Brogan—are working to make our state a better place to work, live and play. And where plumbers, working for college graduates, can make a better life, too!