3 Insights for Post-Traditional Graduate Student Recruitment
By: Christopher Tashjian Jun 11, 2018
Post-Traditional Graduate Students: Insights for Program Development and Marketing:
“A successful institution must not only offer high demand programs, but also offer those programs in formats and schedules that work for the student, provide the services that they expect, and attract students with messaging and media that connects with them.”
The report is a great jumping off point, but to really understand recruiting graduate students for your institution, you need research from Aslanian Market Research. Schedule your free Market Research consultation today.
They’re Motivated By Career Advancement
Master’s degree students are most likely to enroll in programs that are specifically career oriented with 25 percent of students saying they’re expecting graduate studies will lead to an increase in salary. Another 21 percent are looking for a promotion within their field and 19 percent said they wanted to transition to a new field. Only 2 percent of students enrolled for personal reason not related to their careers.
Students are also highly likely to know what major they’re interested in and few are shopping around for programs that pique their interests. The choice of majors reflects these students drive to ramp up their careers. Business continues to be the top choice for graduate students, with 24.6 percent of master’s students studying Business Administration. Information technology comes in second at 7.2 percent, and Computer Science/Engineering rounds out the top three with 5 percent of students enrolling in these programs. It’s not always about degrees, either. Of the students we polled, 14 percent were pursuing certificates, licenses, or other credentials. With most programs consisting of 4-6 courses, this option is attractive to busy young professionals. Computer science, business, healthcare, and education are the most commons fields of study for these learners. Students know what fields of study they want and they’re looking at programs that are both degree and certificate oriented. Students are also motivated to enroll in programs that offer services that help them succeed, like library access, technical support, academic advising, and career services. Your messaging should reflect students’ desire to advance careers and clearly layout which programs are offered and the details of enrollment. Students who don’t find what they’re after will quickly move on.
Flexible and Accelerated Programs
Flexibility in a graduate program isn’t a “nice to have” for most graduate students, it’s a “must have.” Since we’ve been tracking these graduate students, more than three quarters have been 25+ years of age. Many occupy multiple family roles and are seeking online and accelerated graduate programs to fit their busy lives. As a consequence graduate students are interested in programs that combine online learning with a traditional classroom setting, and a quarter of grad students want programs that are entirely online. Only 14 percent enroll in classroom-only programs.
When it came to ranking an institution’s most important features, 43 percent of students said multiple start dates throughout the year was top of their list and once they start they want courses that can be completed within 8 to 10 weeks. By focusing on the flexibility and options your institution can provide, you’ll be able to target the large portion of grad students who are looking for hybrid and fully-online programs to suit their schedules.
A Feeling of Community and Connection
As graduate students begin sifting through programs, institutions can start to blend together. With so many students looking for online programs, they’re no longer bound by geography. That’s why graduate students are looking for a sense of connection and community that tells them they belong at an institution. Post-traditional graduate students are most likely to encounter your marketing messages through TV commercials, email, or by searching online. Your strategy should be to drive these students to your website where they can gather more information where you can deliver tuition data, application instructions, and course schedules.
The substance of your marketing needs to express your value proposition, in other words, what makes you unique. Some students will be moved by the tradition of a school, while others are seeking instructors who work part-time in the fields in which they teach. Sharing your institution’s unique qualities will help students get that sense of connection they’re after.
When it comes to recruiting graduate students, once they’re enrolled they’re seeking a sense of community with fellow students, they want quick courses and they want help turning their hard work into advances in their careers. EducationDynamics offers a free enrollment consultation to help you build a custom plan to efficiently grow graduate enrollments at your institution.