When John Katzman created 2U in 2008, he built an online program manager model that made a lot of sense–at that time. But the world of online education has changed dramatically in 10 years: not just the technology, but our understanding of recruiting, instructional design, student services and how online programs can–and probably should–integrate with on-campus programs. The risks are different, the economics are different, and the competitive challenges are different. That’s why Noodle Partners has created a new type of OPM.
OPMs typically finance the costs of launching a new program, which can commonly exceed $2 million. In exchange for that investment, an OPM siphons off as much as 65% of your online tuition revenue for up to a decade. When online education was new, risky and expensive, this made a certain amount of sense. Today, there’s little risk involved, and universities shouldn’t be paying for an OPM’s sunk costs.
Noodle Partners, by contrast, offers an innovative, flexible economic model that takes into account your available resources and unique program requirements. Compared to the traditional OPM model, we will save you and your students $15,000 to $30,000, while limiting your cash investment to near zero.
Noodle Partners is far more flexible than traditional OPMs. First, we don’t insist on doing everything ourselves — we’re happy to leverage your internal strengths. For example, if you’ve got great instructional design or IT folks, we’ll advise and support them.
Second, we’re sensitive to the many possibilities for integrating your online and on-campus programs. The goal is to eliminate internal and external confusion — and sometimes even competition — among programs. You want to allow today’s peripatetic students to mix-and-match online and on-campus offerings.
Finally, flexibility means enabling the university to respond quickly to changes in the competitive environment. The Noodle Partners model, for example, works for both undergraduate and graduate, degree and certificate programs.
Traditional OPMs claim that their interests are aligned with yours. They’re not.
OPMs typically manage several competing programs. Their most profitable strategy is to direct prospects to the program that delivers the highest profit margin (this generally involves steering students to either a less selective, more expensive, or regional program). Similarly, some OPMs have invested heavily in their own technologies, and require the university to use that technology. The university must adapt to the OPM, rather than the other way around.
The Noodle Partners model was designed to align our interests closely with our schools. Talk to us; we’d be glad to explain how and why it matters, a lot.
Seeking to maximize profit, proprietary OPMs may employ some of the same abusive marketing practices that have plagued the for-profit college industry or sell these leads to other companies that may do so.
Traditional OPMs benefit when you don’t know what goes on behind the curtain. Specifically, they don’t want you to know how they market to prospective students and how much they spend to convert qualified applicants from different channels into enrolled students. Noodle Partners shares this data with you on a real-time basis. That insight enables you to better control costs and enhance profitability.
Colleges must monitor OPM contractors to prevent students and taxpayers who thought they were working with a relatively safe institution, from finding that they have been taken advantage of by a for-profit company.
If you’re already stuck in a relationship with a traditional OPM, we can help you address the enormous hidden costs of ending that relationship, with minimal disruption. Then, we’ll hit the ground running, improving your programs while moving to a less expensive, more flexible, and more transparent model.