Mchenry County College

Case Study


I n an effort to streamline marketing initiatives and plan for future growth in enrollment, Illinois’ McHenry County College, northwest of Chicago, has turned to the power of GIS.



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W hat’s the typical profile of McHenry’s attendees? There is no single profile for prospective community college recruits, because differing market segments carry unique profiles and demographics.

For example, traditional students age 17–24 may typically enroll in baccalaureate transfer courses. Adult learners ages 24–50 are typical of those enrolling in certificate or degree programs in occupational areas, or to learn new professional skills. Employers and employees interested in workforce training fit a different profile — as do participants in continuing education programming.

MCC sought the best expenditure of its direct-mail dollar by finding out who’s who, and who’s where by using using census and other demographic data to zoom in on their in their service area.



sing MapMarker USA, TETRAD geocoded all of the addresses in both the enrollment and the prospect databases. “Now we can see where MCC’s students reside and where course schedules were being distributed,” said Len Walker, the College’s director of marketing and public relations.

The firm then helped Walker to create color-coded thematic maps to illustrate the density of course catalog distribution, as well as enrollment throughout MCC’s service area and surrounding counties (see Figures 1a–1c). This was accomplished by aggregating the number of students and schedules by U.S. Census Bureau block-group geography.

Through a collaborative effort between MCC and TETRAD, the project used the PRIZM segmentation solution to profile individuals found in its databases. PRIZM classifies national households into 66 segments, which are organized into 11 age-driven life-stage groups and 14 social groups, all of which are driven by socioeconomic variables. The segmentation was based on the ZIP+4 in which the person resides.


sing U.S. Census updates, we are watching the changing demographics and can forecast projections five years forward.

-Len Walker, McHenry County College



According to Walker, comparisons between household data and enrollment at the block level allow him to model marketing campaigns that can return a higher yield in enrollment than might otherwise occur. He estimated that the sum total investment in software is approximately $10,000.

However, MCC’s savings during the first year on printing alone reached $60,000, and postage savings are in excess of $40,000. Current year projections are even greater.

MCC students geocoded
Students aggregated to block groups