What Are The Top Prospective Graduate Students Really Looking For?

Whether they are millennials, or adults returning back to school after years in industry, there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world seeking higher degrees for a variety of reasons.

It can be difficult to capture your audience; as more and more people are going back to school, factors such as age, experience level, and an increased desire for flexibility emerge that make it harder to understand and cater to high-quality students.

Regardless of these socioeconomic factors, many prospective graduate students are looking for the same set of criteria when choosing a program. By better understanding trends amongst the graduate student population, you will be able to more effectively target your offerings.

So, what are some of the questions that top prospective graduate students are asking of potential programs?


Will this additional degree help me get a better, higher paying job after I graduate?

In some fields, an advanced degree is required for success and career advancement. However, with many newer fields such as web development requiring less time in school and more time gaining practical experience, many millennials question whether additional degrees will provide them with a competitive advantage.

Despite some shifting views, 90% of U.S. adults believe that going back to school for a higher degree can increase their earning potential and opportunities for future career advancement; a survey conducted by Georgetown University found that career and financial advancement opportunities rose by 57% for those holding a Master’s degree.

With millennials accounting for around 40% of the current unemployment rate, it’s crucial to communicate job placement rates, tangible skills that your program can provide to make students more attractive to employers, and resources your program offers to connect students with career opportunities.


Will I be able to afford this degree?

With average undergraduate student loan debt hovering around $35,000, recent graduates and seasoned workers alike are concerned about racking up more and more money in loans.

Prospective students are looking for a serious pay-off from a graduate degree, especially when it comes to increased earning potential. For example, software engineers with a master’s degree can earn an average of 17.5% more in their lifetime than those with just a bachelor’s- definitely worth the extra spend on tuition and time in school.

Communicating the value-add that your program offers is a key component of attracting and recruiting the right students. By quantifying the benefits that your program provides relative to the cost, you can show prospective students that an initial investment can yield lifelong financial gains.


What will this program invest in me as an individual?

Millennials are consistently demanding more individual, tailored experiences in their work, personal lives, and educational endeavors.

Not only do millennials seek more flexibility (37% would take a pay cut if it meant more job flexibility), they also look for nurturing and support in big life decisions and career or education shifts.

Provide resources to cater to the needs of prospective graduate students, such as the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a graduate admissions officer, or a forum to connect with other students at your college or university to talk about housing options or things to do in your city. The top prospects want a steady flow of information and communication to make the best choice for their graduate education.

While it might take some extra work, giving prospective students resources and tools for success up front will empower them to make smart, informed decisions for their future, as well as the future of your program.

Like this article? Sign up for Gradschoolmatch blog updates, and visit us at Gradschoolmatch.com to start recruiting the best and brightest future graduate students.



How to Successfully Recruit Students Using Gradschoolmatch

With over 225,000 students using Gradschoolmatch, it can seem overwhelming to navigate through the options and find the best candidates for your graduate program.

However, by following these simple steps below, you’ll more strategically and successfully target the right candidates, provide them with the information that they’re looking for, and make the most informed decisions.

Take a look at our tips to recruit students that are the perfect fit for your program through Gradschoolmatch.

Build out an informative yet simple program profile that stands out.

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It’s no surprise that students are busy. From juggling working, studying, and spending time with friends, prospective graduate students need clear, concise information about graduate programs to make their decisions.

By filling in your program profile with relevant, interesting content, students are more likely to be interested in and engage with your program.

Make sure to add more information in addition to just general stats like location and degrees offered. There are thousands of graduate programs on Gradschoolmatch, and students are looking for any information that will give them an edge in the application process.

Adding information related to your application, or providing students with options for financial aid, will make your profile on Gradschoolmatch a trusted resource. Adding links to your social media profiles and website also provides more ways for students to interact with your program on the platforms that they consistently use.


Target the content on your program profile to attract the students that you’re looking for.

You know your program better than anyone. Use that knowledge to target the right prospective students for your program on Gradschoolmatch.

If you consistently see applications with GPAs below your minimum program requirement, add the minimum GPA requirement to your Gradschoolmatch profile. This will ensure that you are finding and attracting the right students that are pre-qualified for your admissions process.

If you often receive a lot of questions from prospective students about tuition costs, make sure to add some resources regarding financial aid to eliminate confusion and avoid excess questions.

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Put a face with a name.

With resources like LinkedIn readily available, more and more students are turning to social and professional networking sites to learn more about programs and admissions officers before applying to grad school.

Under the Program Representative section of your profile, add photos and contact information for admissions officers or recruiters for your program. This is a great way for students to identify the right decision maker, put a face with a name, and proactively make a connection.

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Consistently check your account for new prospects and matches.

When a student is interested in your program, they can bookmark it to express their interest. Similarly, you can also bookmark a student to show that you find them to be a good fit for your program.

By bookmarking students, you are inviting them to interact with you and open up a channel of communication. Make sure to stay on top of these interactions to ensure that you are providing a clear, consistent voice for your program and attracting the best candidates.

View the video below, which provides step-by-step instructions and additional tips to create a successful profile for your graduate program on Gradschoolmatch.


Like this article? Sign up for Gradschoolmatch blog updates, and visit us at Gradschoolmatch.com to start recruiting the best and brightest future graduate students.



College Graduates Prefer City Cores

The Times has an interesting article discussing how college graduates are choosing to live in the cores of large urban areas.  Within this migration are those who become graduate students.  Among the several implications is a new value proposition that graduate programs in these urban areas can offer recruits. Increasingly vibrant live, study, play communities.  This is a good trend that bodes well for these graduate institutions and their metropolitan areas.


Your application pipeline works like a funnel

Students go through three distinct exploratory phases before applying to grad programs.

The process that most take to investigate graduate school is rarely straightforward. Think of it as a funnel separated by three distinct phases: See, Think, and Do. Knowing what students are doing and thinking while in these phases should inform your recruitment strategies.

When in the See phase students are undifferentiated. They might understand that their long term career and personal goals will involve an advanced degree of some kind, but their plans are otherwise very vague.

Students in the Think phase are in an active phase of discovery, doing research on schools and programs, and are beginning to make decisions. While in the Think phase they can still be undecided about their field of study, and many are uncertain about the schools or the part of the world in which to pursue further education. But they are working actively to resolve those issues.

While in the Do phase students are whittling down their options into lists and are in the process of making final decisions. They’re creating their own rankings. They are getting everything lined up to apply, taking standardized tests, writing their narrative summaries, enrolling recommendations. They have become very differentiated.

How should programs act upon these stages?

See -> The See phase represents a significant opportunity to influence prospects early. Your main goal should be to ensure students in this phase are even aware that your program exists. You should target your searches broadly in terms of academic backgrounds and geographic locations. Widen the majors and locales. Students in the See phase are likely to be passive consumers of your information, so you should have video’s for them to watch, and although they might not respond to your bookmark, they’ll see it.

Think-> You can also be influential while they are in the Think phase. Your success will be dictated by your ability to engage them. They’ve researched what public material you’ve shared, but can benefit now by the human touch because they are curious about how and whether they fit into your community. Use all the engagement tools you can muster. Respond to Bookmarks and Messages on Gradschoolmatch, exchange emails and phone calls. Try to understand what they are looking for. Invite Collaborators on Gradschoolmatch to join the conversation. Consider introducing them to current students in the program.

Do-> You want students to enter your tunnel before they’ve advanced to their Do phase, as little opportunity exits to get on their radar, if not. If they are in your tunnel, engagement is essential for the simple reason that they are also in the tunnels of your competitor programs. If you waive application fees or have any other application inducements, now is the time to let them know.


Test to determine if your program needs Gradschoolmatch?

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Here’s a simple test to determine whether prospects can find your program easier than on Gradschoolmatch.

Go to the home page of your university. Count the number of clicks it takes from there to be on your program’s website. If it takes 2 clicks you may want to use Gradschoolmatch.com If it takes 3 or more clicks, you need to use Gradschoolmatch.com

How many prospects can’t find your program because it is too hard to find?


Reimagining The Grad School Fair

reimagining the grad school fairAs the leaves fall graduate program fair season is in full bloom, when representatives of various graduate schools converge on campuses seeking prospective applicants. Graduate program directors everywhere would do well to read the concerns expressed by Jason Krell on these graduate school fairs.

Majoring in creative writing and Italian at the University of Arizona, Jason appreciates the value these events can provide students, most especially opportunities to interact with grad school representatives and to get questions answered. But he is frustrated by the on-campus implementation of the concept. His trigger concern was the absence of representation by schools offering advanced degrees in the fine arts, fields that interest him.

To zero in on the difficulty here: Jason, like virtually all prospective graduate students whether they have arrived at a level of self-awareness as him or not, has some fairly specialized academic interests. Chances are that a few hundred graduate programs exist out there in a field that might interest him, but in all probability only a handful that truly fit him well. That is the nature of graduate education. The on-campus graduate school fairs are not really capable of providing the level of specialization that Jason, and most other students irrespective of field, will need.

On campus grad school fairs are generalist affairs. The recruiters who attend these represent multiple programs, sometimes hundreds of programs, back at their home institution. No doubt great connections can be made with recruiters at these fairs, and no doubt lives often move in unanticipated directions as a consequence of these meet and greets. But these events have inherent inefficiencies. First, with travel and lodging, a school will spend ~$2000 to send one representative  for one seat at a table.

In fact, the landscape of graduate opportunities at many graduate institutions can be so broad that it is simply cost-prohibitive for them to send sufficient numbers of representatives to thoroughly present the scope of the fields they offer. A school the size of the University of Arizona could alone would occupy hundreds of seats.

Think of Gradschoolmatch is a 365/24/7 online graduate school fair. With interactive features designed to connect the students who are seeking information on their next step directly with the program decision makers themselves. A starting place to get specific information tailored to specific interests. Gradschoolmatch.com is a place on the internet where students and program representatives with common academic interests can find each other and also do the meet and greet that you would hope a grad school fair could deliver. And since our tables are virtual, or space is unlimited. And since no travel or lodging is involved, a seat at the table is extremely cost effective.