Most students have an influence network and start their graduate program search on the basis of word-of-mouth. That’s always been our key insight. As a result, Gradschoolmatch operates on two very simple premises. First, people in graduate programs are in the best position to guide prospects because they have incredible expertise to offer. Second, prospects benefit greatly when receiving expert guidance.
If word-of-mouth is how they find programs, the most effective way for graduate programs to recruit new students is to join their influence network. Simply find those with the proper backgrounds and interests for your program and offer them some guidance. Recruiting success lies on the human scale.
This is not at all complicated. Take these four simple steps to do that on Gradschoolmatch.
Step 1: Edit Your Profile
Why? Our search engine reads everything that you enter into your graduate program profile. Sure, you want prospects reading all of that. But we take your profile information and turn it into a sophisticated search query. Running automagically in the background, this delivers continuously to your program the prospects who fit best. That saves you from having to run search queries over and over.
How? Click on ‘Edit Profiles‘, then click on the green buttons with white pencils for each section. Fill out everything, find a save button and click it. Most especially, be sure to select a dozen or so academic fields to describe what your program offers. Do the same for the academic fields you like to see in your prospect’s backgrounds.
Step 2: Find Students
Why? Well, it seems obvious, but which is better? Hoping students discover your program, or finding students you’d like to see in your program?
How? After you’ve completed step 1, click on ‘Find Students‘. The students on this list are the output from that sophisticated, running-all-the-time search query I mentioned above.
These prospects in our system best match your program, from top to bottom. We think. If you don’t like who you see, go back and edit your profile until you start seeing the kinds of students you like. To search for others, click on the green button on the top right labeled ‘Search for specific criteria‘.
Step 3: Bookmark Students
Why? Now that you’ve found them, you want them to see you. Bookmark does that. To Bookmark a prospect is to say, “Hi, my program is interested in you!” Students notice that.
How? Open a student’s profile by clicking on their name. If you like who you see, click the big green ‘Bookmark‘ button. Two things follow that. First, Gradschoolmatch delivers an email notifying the student of your interest. Second, their profile automagically transports to your ‘My Prospects page‘, where you can track, sort and rate everybody you’ve Bookmarked…and who has Bookmarked you.
Some student profiles don’t have a lot of information. That just means they haven’t signed in. But they see those emails come in and open a lot of them. A Bookmark from you might be all it takes to get an engagement started.
The data are very clear. Bookmarking generates interest. The programs that pro-actively Bookmark prospects draw the most interest from prospects on the site. Passive programs receive less interest.
Step 4: Message Students
Why? Remember the part about word-of-mouth? Here’s where that really happens.
How? Click on ‘Message‘ on a student’s profile. Type your message and–after giving the Golden Rule some thought–hit the send button.
About that Golden Rule. Do you like spam? Neither do they. So please omit the canned, copy-and-pasted marketing message. Nobody reads that.
Just be yourself, which is undoubtedly personal, friendly, helpful, encouraging, sophisticated and even humorous. And if that is not your personality, then ask one of your grad students who has some to help out!
Provide some quick and to-the-point guidance, and please be sure to key off of something that impressed you in their profile. Then ask for a phone call, or a Skype, or for more information. That’s engagement.
And good grief, if you see enough information that you’d like to see their application, then tell them so!
Please remember that you’re offering to join their influence network. That’s a privileged space.