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.