Transcript 44: A Conversation on Supporting the Needs of First-gen and Minority Students, with Marcus Mason-Vivit


Announcer:

You’re listening to “Undeclared,” the podcast that provides strategies to overcome the challenges that higher education institutions face. We help colleges and universities attract the right students because we know an educated planet is a better place for everyone. Please welcome your host, Scott Fogleman and Allison Lanier.

Scott Fogleman:

Hi, I’m Scott, and you are listening to “Undeclared,” a podcast for higher education problem solvers where we discuss all things higher ed with university and college professionals, as well as industry experts. Thank you so much for tuning in to our episode today. You get me again this week, and I know you’re all so excited about that. But my wonderful co-host, Allison Lanier, will be joining us again soon when she returns from her maternity leave. So until then, you’re stuck with me but hopefully you’ll enjoy today’s conversation.

Scott Fogleman:

So as you all know, we have got a lot going on in our world today. And as marketers, it is our responsibility to understand how that can impact our current and prospective students. We need to be aware. We need to understand how messaging that was used yesterday may be out of date today. It may be out of context. So we need to be making sure that we’re staying abreast of all those changes. It’s really important to understand how we can incorporate diversity and inclusion in our work as well and do our jobs to promote equal access information to address where inequalities and gaps exist and do what we can to fill those gaps and be proactive to reach those students.

Scott Fogleman:

So we’re very excited to have today’s guests with us. Joining us today is Marcus Mason-Vivit. Marcus is the Associate Director, Undergraduate Admissions for Loyola University, Chicago. And fresh out of college, Marcus began working in education through a college readiness community based organization based out of Chicago. And after several years of CBO work in under-resourced areas, Marcus made the transition to higher ed a little less than a decade ago. And throughout his career, no matter the title or position, he has worked extensively to promote the benefits of higher ed, the value of increased diversity, access to inclusion, and especially the focus on historically underrepresented and first gen students.

Scott Fogleman:

So Marcus, we are glad to have you here with us today. If you could, please share a little bit more about yourself.

Marcus Mason:

Yeah. Thanks for having me, Scott. It’s good to be here. And yeah, it’s really interesting to hear those things, that short bio about me, kind of [inaudible 00:02:35]. I’m like, “I do that?” And I go, “Oh, yes I do.” So a little bit about me, I am Midwest born and raised. I grew up in the great state of Ohio. I did go to high school in Minnesota, so I know all about Minnesota nice and hot dish. And then I did my undergrad and some of my graduate worked here in Chicago as well. After graduating, I graduated from Northwestern University, I just stayed. I just fell in love with the city and did not want to be anywhere else.

Marcus Mason:

I have lived in California for a very short stint. And that experience was awesome because I was taking all my diversity, equity and inclusion work out there. And it feels like California is just light years ahead of the rest of the country as it relates to branding and marketing and inclusive language. Really uplifting marginalized communities and really aiming to dismantle systemic oppression. So it’s really good. I mean, as far as other things, I got two dogs that I’m crazy about, Leia and Clone.

Scott Fogleman:

Do you call her princess?

Marcus Mason:

You know what? She is named after Princess Leia, but I do not call her Princess Leia though she probably knows it. But aside from that, I love my family. I love kind of curating beautiful spaces and experiences, if you will. And so whether that’s with friends or whether that’s with students in our different events, those are things that kind of give me life. But I think the greatest joys and passions that I have in life is to work toward bringing justice especially here in the US. And I feel uniquely positioned and gifted in a way to really kind of bridge gaps and bridge conversations and misunderstandings. And so because I feel as though I have that gift, it’s really important to me to have critical conversations around race and gender, sexuality, and ability and class and education. Because I think that when we tackle those topics, we really will bring equity-

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely

Marcus Mason:

… to the world.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely. Well, thanks so much for sharing that. And it’s very evident you’re passionate. And it’s awesome that you’ve got this focus on equality in higher ed and really hiring and uplifting those around you. So thanks for being on our show. There’s a lot to talk about. So let’s dive into it. These conversations can sometimes be difficult to have, right? Because you have to look at yourself. You have to look inward and say, “What can I do to improve? What can we do to make this experience better for our current students, our prospective students, our alumni?” So with your experience, where can we start having these conversations within our marketing departments? Who should be involved?

Marcus Mason:

The students should absolutely be involved. I have found my most success, especially as it relates to marketing and creating copy and creating stories and communications, that my most successful projects are those that are student-focused and student-centered and focused on the student voice. And some of that takes time. Some of that takes… There’s a great deal of listening in regards to that. And there’s a great deal of questions that probably have to be asked as well to make sure that as the receiver of that message and of those stories and of those experiences, I’m understanding that. Especially as it relates to students of color, I think that there is a position of privilege because I can sometimes read in between the lines and there’s a foundation where I have context and historical context about perhaps what some of these students have experienced.

Marcus Mason:

In part because of what I’ve learned all my life, but also because I’ve lived these experiences and I’ve had to navigate these spaces, right? So kind of coming back around to because of that, listening to the students’ stories, we tend to get… And then sharing those out in a way that the student feels comfortable with, in a way that the student doesn’t feel tokenized, in a way a student feels that this represents my voice and the nature of my tone and what I want to express versus a marketing communication office just saying like, “We need a picture. Give us two lines, and we’re just going to do whatever we want with it.” Right?

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely.

Marcus Mason:

So I think they’re two different approaches. One is more efficient for sure. But I think one is more effective and makes a much greater impact.

Scott Fogleman:

I love that. So in your experience, how have you helped facilitate some of these conversations? And how do you encourage these students to really tell their experiences and tell what they need?

Marcus Mason:

I think I feel fortunate enough to have a position that gives me the authority to encourage those conversations or advocate that those conversations happen. We have such a dynamic team in my office, right? And I know that not every university can say that. But I do think that that position allows me to kind of direct conversations and direct…

Scott Fogleman:

Kind of facilitating guidance.

Marcus Mason:

Yeah. Facilitating and guiding thinking and thinking outside the box. This morning, I actually was just stepping off of moderating another panel about being black in higher education. And I think, again… Not again, but one of the things that I did is I sent an email out to my entire team and said, “Hey, if you have time this morning, this will be great to sit in on.” And I recognize because of my position, that there will be folks who say, “Oh my gosh, Marcus asked me to do this. Even though he asked, I feel as I don’t have freedom to.” Do you know what I mean there? Where it’s like when our supervisors ask us something, I think many of us kind of hold this thought like, “They asked me, but it’s not really a question. It’s more so they’re asking me to be polite.” Even though in this situation, I really was just extending an invitation and not really saying that people had to come but people did end up coming.

Marcus Mason:

And so whether that was because I extended that invitation and because of my position within the office, or because they had their own internal desires to come, I think recognizing that and being cognizant of that, I feel a great deal of responsibility to make sure that those conversations happen. And that we don’t only have those conversations in moments of crisis.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely. That’s a great point. These are things that, yes, they’re current situational happenings right now. That should not be the only reason we’re having these conversations. These need to be daily. They need to be looked at regularly. Going back to the point we made earlier, the needs of underrepresented students, whether they are minority, whether they’re first generation, whether they’re maybe not a US citizen. They’re going to have challenges that we need to constantly be aware of because they’re evolving. Our policies have changed. The whole world has changed overnight. We got to be aware of that. So in your experience, how can we encourage these conversations to happen regularly and really make sure that it’s not just a responsive thing or a reaction, but it’s a proactive part of what we’re doing?

Marcus Mason:

I think it takes a lot of intention. And there has to be intention behind actions. And I think universities across the country and around the world do need to press pause, and they do need to reflect on, what are we doing? How are we complicit? How are we as higher education institutions that say that we’re creating the world’s next leaders and change agents? But we’re producing people and sending students, graduates out into the world who are not changing things quick enough, right? I hold and fully acknowledge that change has happened in our country, even within the last decade. But I think in staff meetings, you have to do check-ins. I think supervisors have to check in on their staff of color. And I think we also have to talk about work environments. And I think that these are small things, but I think when we start to shift them, those conversations become natural, right?

Scott Fogleman:

Well, battles win wars, right?

Marcus Mason:

Exactly. Exactly. So I think when, again, on this panel that I just came off of, one of the points that got raised was you go into a predominantly white office or a predominantly white space and everyone’s talking about REM. And a lot of situations, if you’re not white, maybe you don’t even know who REM is. And so it’s just-

Scott Fogleman:

Even if you’re 25, you’re like, “Who?”

Marcus Mason:

Exactly. And so just like how are those small nuances ostracizing people and making them feel excluded and not part of that sense of community within the office where these conversations can happen? I am not going to voice to you how I feel about racism and oppression or systemic oppression if I don’t feel like I trust you.

Scott Fogleman:

Right. So it starts there with your own team. You’ve got to build trust.

Marcus Mason:

Exactly.

Scott Fogleman:

That’s fantastic. I think that’s a great lesson that we can all take home today, is that if we’re trying to make change for our institution, we’re trying to make change for these students and give them access, we have to first look in and we have to understand, what can we as our teams do to support these conversations? How are we going to expand our mindset? And how are we going to be open to facilitating this? And I think you’re definitely right. If we don’t start with trust and if we don’t start With RM teams, that work can’t happen.

Marcus Mason:

Yeah. And then I think the other part to that is, what does your office look like? Yeah. I was listening to someone, an activist, speak. I listen to her through Instagram. Her name is Sonya Renee Taylor. And one of the things that she was saying was so many people say that they believe in equality because someone had criticized her and said, “Well, that’s not equality.” Or, “I believe in equality, but I don’t believe in what you’re saying.” And she said, “Okay, well, let me give you the benefit of doubt. Let’s say you do believe in equality. If you really believe in equality, then I’m assuming that you have an equal amount of friends from different races and cultures. And I’m assuming that the books that are on your bookshelf, there’s representation of men and women and trans folks and gay folks and straightforward and non-conforming folks. And if you believe in equality, then you listen to all types of music. And if you believe in equality, then your team reflects that.” Right?

Scott Fogleman:

Right.

Marcus Mason:

And I think that that was huge for me. And I think that there have been moments in my career where I have been the only person of color advocating and speaking for change and not feeling like I have allies or accomplices in that work. Even though I trusted the people I work with, and even though I knew that they maybe had good intentions because I was the solo voice and I had no one else to rally behind me, it took that much longer to get things done. Right?

Scott Fogleman:

Makes sense. Yeah.

Marcus Mason:

So I think teams also… Your team makeup has something too.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely. So what are some of those other challenges that you face? And not even you specifically, but what are some of those challenges when we are working to inwardly address our team and the diversity of that? And how do people start?

Marcus Mason:

I think the internet is a great resource. I was talking to one of my other friends, Nicole, and we were having this conversation because for folks of color, these are conversations that we’ve been having forever in our whole lives. And some white folks have been a part of those conversations for a really long time. But then there’s other folks who are just showing up to the conversation. And so we were going back and forth on this whole idea of like, is it our job as people of color to educate our white peers, friends, family, coworkers? And it’s yes and no. Right? There are other white folks who have been doing this work forever. And so if your team is not diverse and perhaps you turn to those other white folks who have been doing this work and saying, “What more can I do?”

Scott Fogleman:

What can I do?

Marcus Mason:

You start there. Yes. Or if you have a really diverse team, asking the question, what aren’t we doing? Whose voice am I not hearing? When we talk about our events and when we market to our events, are we saying that there will be accessibility for people who have different ability issues or accessibility issues? For folks who might be deaf or hard of hearing, that the videos that we post on social media, have we included the captions? What ways are we really trying to be inclusive? Or what ways can we be more inclusive?

Scott Fogleman:

And is it done with intention, as you mentioned?

Marcus Mason:

Yeah. Yeah. I think that those are some small ways that folks can continue to push themselves and to look inward because the work is never done. One of my most memorable interviews was when… And this was a few years ago at another institution. I was at not Loyola. But I was being interviewed by students, which was the first time I had been interviewed by students. And that’s kind of where that experience of making sure that we keep students at the center. I was involved. Right? And it was for diversity and inclusion role. And they said, “70% of our students identify as students of color.” My mouth dropped. And I said, “I don’t understand why you’re interviewing for this role.” People would do back-flips for 40% of students of color.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely.

Marcus Mason:

And so you all have 70% and they said, “Well, just because we have 70% doesn’t mean that there’s not more work to be done.” When we look at our Hispanic and Latinx population, we see that a lot of them are Mexican, or of the Mexican heritage. Where is the Puerto Rican representation? Where is the Spanish? Literally from Spain representation. And I think that there’s something beautiful to that. And I think that knowing that there’s always, always, always going to be work to be done should always make new challenges for us and keep the work interesting and exciting.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely. So speaking of challenges, that’s one of the lovely things we love to talk about on “Undeclared.” So from your unique position, being able to have the direct access through the admissions process and understanding the students’ needs, what are the primary challenges facing a lot of our first gen and minority students that we really need to be aware of?

Marcus Mason:

Gosh, that’s such a loaded question.

Scott Fogleman:

Sorry about that.

Marcus Mason:

What are the things that we need to be aware of when it comes to our first gen students?

Scott Fogleman:

Yeah, let’s start there. So just common challenges and things that we just all need to know, hey, when we are speaking to a first gen student, these are the needs we need to help them prioritize. We need to help them find financial aid. We need to help them find career paths and guided learning. Where do we start? And what should we keep top of mind?

Marcus Mason:

I don’t know where to start because there’s so many places that I think require some attention. And I can’t say that you start in one area over the next. I think one of the biggest challenges that I’ve seen when it comes to first gen students is just a lack of knowledge and a lack of understanding or a sense or even having an idea of where to start. Right? And I think you know, one of the things that we have to be careful of is the language that we’ve become so used to in higher ed. It literally is a foreign language to first gen students.

Marcus Mason:

You and I can say FAFSA right now and know exactly what we’re talking about too, but to a first gen student, they might not know what the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is. Even if we as marketers spell out, FASFA means Free Application for Federal Student Aid-

Scott Fogleman:

What does that really mean?

Marcus Mason:

… what does that really mean? And then what does that mean for a student who doesn’t have status? Or what does that mean for a student who does have status and is given a social security number to maybe get a job and then tries to enter that number into their FAFSA form? So I think language is huge. I think breaking down, why is it important to research a college? What are the things that you do need to research? One of the biggest things that I think all institutions need to do and none of us seem to have time for it and our marketing and communication offices are just not big enough for is that all of our websites just need a complete overhaul.

Scott Fogleman:

Oh, isn’t that the truth?

Marcus Mason:

Yeah. There’s so much information that we are trying to provide students with.

Scott Fogleman:

It can become buried very quickly,

Marcus Mason:

It just becomes buried and it’s a generation that research is saying doesn’t have a whole lot of patience. You have about a minute on a web page not to keep someone’s attention. So how are you keeping their attention? How accessible are your links? Are they buried? How wordy is the language on your web pages? How much do I have to read before I get to this is how I make my deposit? How much do I have to read before I get to…? And the deposit is non-refundable after May 1st. These are all things that impact, I think, our first generation students more so than our students who are coming from families who are not the first to go to college. So I can probably talk about that for an hour.

Scott Fogleman:

Well, it’s great. And we can probably do a second episode specifically to that, but let’s keep that in mind. But that’s fantastic. So understanding that first gen students can often look very different than our minority students. So specifically for minority students, what are some of those greatest challenges that they’re facing that we can better represent in terms of our content and messaging?

Marcus Mason:

I think when it comes to messaging for… When you say minority, because I just want to make sure we’re using the same language here. So minority can be women. We could be talking about students of color. Are those the categories here? Or are we talking about students of color?

Scott Fogleman:

It can be all the above. And also some of your just non-traditional students. So maybe your adult learners.

Marcus Mason:

Okay, fantastic. So marketing for those first gen minority students?

Scott Fogleman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcus Mason:

Yeah. I think when it comes to how to market to minority students, again, there’s a balance of representation. I’d say oftentimes, the schools that I see do it wrong are the predominately white institutions that kind of create a diversity piece, a road piece or even a web page. And across that road piece or the web page is just all students of color. And then you go to their statistics on representation, and it’s like-

Scott Fogleman:

Totally skewed.

Marcus Mason:

… totally skewed.

Scott Fogleman:

Just inauthentic.

Marcus Mason:

Why is that picture all students of color? And then also to that end, when we are working on marketing materials that we’re sending out to all of our students, they should include what our student body looks like. So if 70% of your student body are students of color, I think that 70% of your materials should reflect that.

Scott Fogleman:

To be represented, yeah.

Marcus Mason:

To be represented. And then I think if your materials do not represent that, then I think you need to be forthcoming about that. One of the things that I talk with families about all the time or get challenged on, especially, is the percentage of black and African-Americans on campus. And I have to be honest and say, “This is what it is. And this is important to us and we’re doing better.”

Scott Fogleman:

Here’s our plan.

Marcus Mason:

And here’s our plan. So you are going to market that. I think that that is a brilliant way to market like, “This is where we’re at and we know we need to do better.”

Scott Fogleman:

Own it, right?

Marcus Mason:

Yes.

Scott Fogleman:

Own it.

Marcus Mason:

And then you also get to describe your plan and stick to it. Don’t tell me that you’re about increasing diversity, but you’re not increasing the supports that students of color or minority students need to be successful and to thrive on campus. Do they have affinity groups? Are there different clubs and organizations? What is the percentage of faculty of color? What are the counseling and psychological services? Are any of those folks people of color? And so all of that and all of those are different opportunities to market that information to that demographic of students. It’s important because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out in a first gen family. I know it’s a first gen family and oftentimes of color. They won’t even be interested in my institution. But because they have this fear of looking as though they don’t know anything, they’ll come to me as a person of color and say, “What does this mean? And what questions should I ask?” And I literally give mini sessions to families and to students at college fairs or high school visits with different seminars and such.

Scott Fogleman:

That’s great. And that’s maybe something we should consider. There are going to be common questions. What can we do on our websites to focus on some Q&A? Here are some facts that you should be looking for. If you haven’t addressed these questions yet, you need to continue your research, here’s the resources we can offer you. That’s something that we consider. So understand what… Not to kind of assume what will be asked, but again, going back to the surveys. Find out. When you get that minority student in, hey, what was it about this process that made you able to make that decision? What did you need that you didn’t have? What worked well? Because not everything has to be a negative. Let’s find out what’s working well.

Scott Fogleman:

So I think it does go back to your earlier point. If we’re not involving students, we’re not improving. And so we’ve got to just always be keep our ears to the ground and hear what’s actually working.

Marcus Mason:

To hear you even repeat it back is just like, “Yes, that’s it. That’s literally it.” I think so often, we decide what students want to hear and what they want to know. And at some point, we have to acknowledge we might be out of touch. When we crossed 25, we kind of lost… Our keys to the young years were snatched. They were taken away. And so now we do need to figure out, what do young people want to hear? And how do they want to hear it? But then also, what do their families want to hear? And how do they want to hear it because they’re different?

Scott Fogleman:

Totally.

Marcus Mason:

They’re completely different, but yeah.

Scott Fogleman:

And even beyond their families, just the support network as a whole. High school guidance counselors, what do they need to know about our institutions that’s going to make them make a recommendation?

Marcus Mason:

Correct.

Scott Fogleman:

All of that. That’s great. I think I could talk for hours and hours and hours, but I have a couple other questions for you. So how can we best support the decision making process for students who just, again, as you mentioned, don’t have any idea of where to go, where to start? What can we do from the outset of our process with admissions to make sure we’re giving a clear path and that access to understand how they move forward?

Marcus Mason:

I really think that we have to embrace digital spaces and media content especially. I think that video and audio is kind of this wave that we probably all need to be riding right now with so many high school students, and so many people around the world and back. We talked about minority students and non-traditional students, adult learners and such. If I’m thinking, what are those folks doing? How are they spending their time? When are they on their phone? It’s on the commute to work or on the commute to school or it’s during lunch, or it’s… And so again, kind of going back to the captions, well, what does it look like to create a video that a student doesn’t have to have sound for and can secretly watch in class? Not that I would encourage that, right?

Scott Fogleman:

No one has ever done that before.

Marcus Mason:

I think that there’s opportunities there for that and to really tell stories that way through media, through video, audio.

Scott Fogleman:

What are your thoughts on personalization through a lot of that and being able to truly kind of identify and respond to the specific needs of a student?

Marcus Mason:

The personalization of that?

Scott Fogleman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcus Mason:

I think that that’s what’s great about it. I think with a video or with media content, you can personalize it a little bit more. I think it takes longer. It becomes very nuanced. I believe that my approach to that has kind of been to look for the big area. Look for the types of things or the types of general interests or most common interests that students have, right? So if I know that students today are becoming increasingly more concerned with our environment and with climate change, then perhaps I want to highlight a student who is actually studying environmental studies.

Marcus Mason:

And I don’t necessarily need or want them to talk about the environment if they don’t want to. But I know that subconsciously, people are registering that and-

Scott Fogleman:

And they’re making that connection.

Marcus Mason:

… they’re making that connection. And that’s resonating with them, and that’s resonating with like, “This is a person that shares some of my same interests.” And so then I just have that student talk about living on campus. I say, “Act like you’re out. You’re going out and doing a FaceTime. I do not want it to look professional. I want your students to feel as though this is organic or as organic as possible.” Because I think that’s the other piece about this generation, is that they are so skeptical of our messaging and they are just like, “They’re not telling the truth. They’re not truth tellers.” They can switch.

Scott Fogleman:

Don’t scam me.

Marcus Mason:

Don’t scam me. And I think we’re seeing that too. There’s a stronger increase in like, “I actually don’t want to talk to you, Marcus.” Who are the students that I can talk to about this experience?

Scott Fogleman:

They’re savvy consumers and they’re like, “Hold on a minute, don’t sell me. I want to be sold myself.”

Marcus Mason:

Exactly. Exactly.

Scott Fogleman:

Makes sense. So with that, what do you think from the admissions perspective that you’re able to see on a daily basis? What do you think that marketers can do to best support your needs? And what would be the one primary thing you would ask of your marketing team to support your needs on the admission side? I may have made that a complicated question. My apologies.

Marcus Mason:

I mean, it’s not complicated, but it’s a specific and pointed question that now I’m almost acting as though like I got one shot. What do I want the marketing team to kind of focus on? I really think that making it plain, making it as simple and as clear as possible is what’s best. I think some of the best advertising, the best marketing is not filled with a lot of copy. But it invokes some type of emotion that moves you to action. That was clear and plain enough and made me feel a certain way and now I’m going to deposit. Or that was clear and plain enough and I now know my feelings. And I know that this was not the school for me and that other schools.

Marcus Mason:

I think when we complicate things and we oversell things and try to pretend that we’re things that we’re not, that makes things confusing. That makes students unhappy. That’s what causes students to transfer. One reason why students transfer.

Scott Fogleman:

Sure. If they’re not having the experience they were promised, I’d be out too.

Marcus Mason:

Exactly. Exactly. And hopefully, they can be out. When you’re talking about first gen or underrepresented students, for some of them, money is definitely a factor.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely.

Marcus Mason:

For some of them, they may not be able to transfer. And so now they’re just stuck at a place that we lied to them. So be honest, be truthful, make it plain, make it simple.

Scott Fogleman:

And then what we like to call the wind of the fifth, you’ve totally destroyed the opportunity for wind of the fifth. You’re not going to have a successful student. They’re not going to promote your opportunities to their network. They are not going to give back to your institution. They’re not going to offer their time and their talents and their treasures. So it is very important to make sure that the experience that we are positioning is authentic. And if we’re not doing that, we’ve missed the ball.

Marcus Mason:

Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely.

Scott Fogleman:

So Marcus, I know we’re kind of running short on time, but what other thoughts would you like to leave us with today?

Marcus Mason:

Do better. Not necessarily use a lot.

Scott Fogleman:

I can do better. I think we can.

Marcus Mason:

Yeah, we all need to do better. I think especially, I am feeling some type of disappointment with the higher education industry as a collective, right? It is painful to know that we are living in 2020 and situations like George Floyd happen where police officers, and God bless them for the ways they protect us and protect our communities. But when you see folks who abuse their power and kill a man the way that he’s killed, I question, what are higher ed or institutions of higher learning doing so these aren’t realities?

Scott Fogleman:

Right. Education is our greatest path to change.

Marcus Mason:

It is. And so it’s just like, why did that happen? What are we not doing in our education system and our higher learning institutions that allows for things like that still to happen?

Scott Fogleman:

What’s perpetuating this?

Marcus Mason:

Yes. What is perpetuating? What conversations are we not having? What conversations are we not going deeper with? And I think that that does come back to marketing, right? So when I say do better, it’s like do better. Bring people to the table. Hire people. If you don’t have the folks at the table, then by golly, you need to pay someone $5,000 to bring you those insights that you… So I am for hire. Not true.

Scott Fogleman:

We are too.

Marcus Mason:

Yeah.

Scott Fogleman:

No, that’s awesome. I really appreciate you sharing that. And I think our listeners will appreciate that as well. We can all do better. We can all take this as a time to say like, “What are we doing? Let’s look inside. Let’s improve. We’re in the business of education. That’s all about learning. Let’s learn. Let’s listen.” I love how you’re just taking that approach.

Marcus Mason:

Right. And it’s a commitment to lifelong learning, right?

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely.

Marcus Mason:

When we talk about education, we’re talking about and we’re creating lifelong learners. And even after this ends, we still will pick up books and read and-

Scott Fogleman:

Continuous curiosity. That’s what we need.

Marcus Mason:

Nailed it. Nailed it.

Scott Fogleman:

I love it. All right. So final question for you, and this should be a drum-roll question. So if you could go back in time and give yourself a pro tip, whether it’d be personal or professional, what would it be?

Marcus Mason:

Scott, you’re coming with the-

Scott Fogleman:

Hey, I told you this is going to be a little… We’ve got to have your witties for these.

Marcus Mason:

A pro tip that I would give myself. Be your authentic self and don’t be sorry about it. I really do think that when we all choose to be our authentic selves and show up authentically, and stop pretending to be things that we’re not, that’s really when the change is going to happen. Right?

Scott Fogleman:

Yep. Oh, that’s powerful. I got goosebumps here, man. This is great. This is great. Well, I appreciate that, and thank you so much for joining us today. If you’d be open to it, I think we would love to have some more conversations and get further into the weeds and talk more about this because it’s such an important conversation. And we really do appreciate what you have done, what your team has done, and what you’re doing to inspire your peers and those around you to be informed, to ask questions, and to make the difference that needs to happen. So we appreciate that.

Marcus Mason:

I appreciate you all having me on the show, and I appreciate the work that you all are doing to bring about change in our industry. Thank you.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely. All right, problem solvers, be sure to subscribe to our show in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcast. And feel free to give Mason a note. We will have his information in our show notes as well. And again, thank you for joining us today. So if you don’t mind, listeners, please give us a little rating and review. That’d be greatly appreciated. We want to know the topics that you want to hear from us on and we would love to have you join us. So if you’d like to ever be a guest on “Undeclared,” let us know too and we would definitely entertain that. So until next time, continue the great work out there solving the problems of higher ed. And as Marcus mentioned, remember to always listen, ask questions, make marketing simple, and make our messages clean and clear. And let’s provide equal access for the opportunities that we all want our students to have.

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