Recruitment and Financial Aid Strategies are Changing at Many Graduate Schools

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The marketplace for graduate schools is changing. Many colleges and universities have been implementing significant adjustments to their recruitment and financial aid tactics and strategies to respond to the new, more challenging landscape.

  • Across the country, colleges and universities are looking for revenue streams and the pressure is on graduate programs to produce revenue like never before.
  • Even many of the most prestigious institutions are no longer able to rely on academic reputations alone to meet their graduate enrollment objectives.
  • Competition continues to increase as more and more schools add new graduate offerings.
  • Opportunities for students to cover their graduate education expenses by utilizing employee benefits are declining.

We know that the marketplace has changed. Why are so many schools struggling to identify the appropriate approaches that will improve outcomes?

  • Many schools have operated for decades without employing professional admission administrators and counselors.
  • Just identifying the customer base at a reasonable price for graduate recruitment is difficult. Unlike the testing services for undergraduate students, there is no central database available to identify students who might be interested in graduate school.
  • Available research data on important metrics in graduate recruitment are scarce. Trying to find reliable industry standards for application rates, the size of inquiry pools, acceptance rates, discount rates and yield rates is virtually impossible.

So what are colleges and universities doing to improve recruitment outcomes for graduate enrollment?

  • Some schools are moving graduate recruitment and financial aid out of the academic departments and into centralized enrollment divisions.
  • There is movement from graduate professionals acting as gate-keepers to professionals serving as recruiters.
  • Some schools are conducting reviews of recruitment tactics and assessing ?return on investment? for the first time.
  • Financial aid, including scholarships, grants and assistantships, is being more effectively targeted to meet enrollment goals.
  • More institutions are front-loading scholarship offers in order to encourage students to apply for admission.
  • Deals are being negotiated with companies for discounts for employees enrolling in graduate programs at particular institutions.
  • Colleges and universities are starting to begin recruitment activities at the inquiry stage rather than the traditional method of just working with prospective students after they apply for admission.

Schools are generally taking a more data-driven approach to graduate recruitment. The marketplace has changed and many graduate schools are slowly adapting to new realities.

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