Mechanisms for marketing higher education information services: The case of the College Board

Toshiro Takamiya, University of Pennsylvania


While well known as a standardized testing agency, the College Board also provides information services to assist colleges and universities in optimizing their marketing efforts. This study examines the mechanism for marketing the organization's major services—Student Search Service (SSS), Enrollment Planning Service (EPS), and Admitted Student Questionnaire (ASQ)—to address two relatively unstudied issues: (1) the marketing of business-to-business services in a higher education context, and (2) the role of the College Board's information services in its larger higher education business. Adopting the gaps model of service quality as a conceptual framework, the researcher conducted interviews at the College Board's headquarters, two regional offices, and six client institutions. The College Board's marketing mechanism is characterized by its network-based client relationships and its management model of balancing central authority and regional autonomy. To strengthen its networks in the profession, the organization hires experienced administrators from service-user institutions and provides opportunities for colleges and universities to exchange opinions on enrollment issues. In terms of organizational structure, a senior management team develops an overall plan, whereas the regional offices are given autonomy to carry out the mission of the organization and to fulfill their regional goals. As part of a corporate reorganization, the College Board has separated the service and sales functions of its regional offices and established a new team to focus on selling software solutions. The Board has also launched a more structured approach to communicating with client institutions. However, there is a conflict between the College Board's traditional member-driven culture and current business-oriented direction. The researcher suggests that the organization spin-off its software business as a separate for-profit entity. While generating additional revenue, the College Board's information services built upon its database of students are expected to reinforce the value and the continued use of its testing programs. This established business model is threatened by emerging information technology, because college-bound students are increasingly communicating with higher education institutions online. The researcher recommends that the College Board develop new services to connect its database and information that client institutions collect through their websites.

Subject Area

Higher education|Marketing

Recommended Citation

Takamiya, Toshiro, "Mechanisms for marketing higher education information services: The case of the College Board" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168049.