Milton Hershey School


Hershey, PA

Client Challenge

Milton Hershey School (MHS) is a K-12 boarding school based in Pennsylvania with an historical mission of educating economically and socially disadvantaged children. Founded by chocolate magnate Milton Hershey, who put his entire fortune into the school, MHS’s endowment now exceeds $9 Billion, and the school has academic programs and facilities that rival many of the top private boarding schools in the nation. With a 90 percent college placement rate and test scores higher than the state average, the school has an unparalleled record of educating and advancing the lives of the students it serves. The school sought to continue to grow its enrollment, particularly among students from rural populations, and wanted to examine what qualities resonated with this demographic during the application and enrollment phases.


Our Approach

A&S did a study of family and guardians to gauge what could be done to favorably influence interest in a top quality boarding school among more disadvantaged rural households. The research showed that such families were far more resistant to the boarding aspect of the school than urban parents, and that these families were much less inclined to part with their children for a considerable portion of the year.

The study also found that positioning MHS around a top-notch academic experience and outstanding facilities, equivalent to the top private schools, would overcome much of the resistance to the boarding nature of the school. A&S recommended that MHS adopt this positioning strategy, including modifications to communications and other outreach, the campus visit program, as well as prioritizing substantive elements of the positioning strategy in the school’s strategic planning process.

“Art and Science Group did a very good job with the execution of the research for Milton Hershey School. We have adopted many of the recommendations and the research is the basis for much of the language we are using in our publications, website, direct mail and advertising.”
- Mark Seymour, Senior Director


The Results

MHS worked resolutely to enact A&S’s recommendations, revamping its website, marketing, communications and strategic planning process. In the first year after adopting the new strategy, the school exceed its enrollment goals overall, and for the rural demographic in particular.

"The marketing language has impacted our outcomes – highest number of students attended a family event this year, increase in attendance for on-campus events and an increase in applications to MHS in '14-'15."
- Mark Seymour, Senior Director