Earlham College


Conway, AR

Client Challenge

Hendrix College faced all of the challenges common to small, remotely located liberal arts colleges. In addition, it was confronted with sharp cuts in the state scholarship program that funded support for its brightest students, as well as a $300 million gift that enabled the state’s flagship public university to compete directly with Hendrix for high-ability students. Later, having pursued initiatives to strengthen its competitive position and increase net revenue, Hendrix sought to determine the strategies needed to accelerate its success.


Our Approach

A&S has conducted several strategy studies for Hendrix. The first pricing and branding study led the College to build on its traditions and differentiate itself by creating "Odyssey," a program that engages all students extensively in hands-on learning experiences. We also recommended Hendrix adopt other academic and student life changes and changes in tuition and aid policies to strengthen its net revenue position. Subsequent studies have focused on enabling Hendrix to identify how to strengthen its brand strategy further as other institutions adopted Odyssey-like programs and other appeals, gauge gains to be made by expanding Odyssey, and determine other initiatives with the potential to further enhance the College’s competitive position and better serve high-ability students.


The Results

Following our first study, Hendrix grew its freshman class by almost 50 percent ― a goal it accomplished in only two years ― and increased its geographic reach and student quality and diversity. Over the next five years, Hendrix increased net revenue for its freshman class by more than six times the rate of other liberal arts colleges. The College was even able to raise its cost of attendance (at the start of and during the recession) and make adjustments to institutional aid that resulted in net revenue increases. These substantive changes contributed to a new vibrancy on campus, focused strategic planning and action and helped energize capital campaign giving.