NAGAP Recap 2024: GEM Summit in Derby City Was a Winning Ticket

Graduate enrollment professionals from across the country descended on Capture Higher Ed’s hometown of Louisville, Ky., last month for the 2024 version of the NAGAP Graduate Enrollment Management Summit. It was only a week from the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby — Derby Season in Derby City! — and the atmosphere was festive, the spring weather perfect. 

But it wasn’t all about thoroughbreds, mint juleps and roses. In fact, Capture Director of Sales Anne Freihofer called the summit one of the most educational conferences she has ever experienced during her 11 years at Capture.  

Anne Freihofer

Anne Freihofer, Director of Sales

“I really enjoyed the conference,” she said. “All the sessions were well attended and there was a high level of participation. People asked questions. They interacted with each other and shared campus experiences.” 

That certainly was the case during the session, “An Open Discussion About GEM Trends, Best Practices and Strategies for Marketing and Recruitment.” This open discussion made one fact clear — graduate recruitment professionals are busy!  

“Everyone is stretched incredibly thin,” Anne noted, “In-person fairs, information sessions, virtual fairs, personal email responses, phone calls, recruitment events, networking opportunities … It seems like we expect everyone to be everywhere all the time, but we resource them poorly.” 

The wide-ranging discussion during the session covered issues like:

  • How “speed to inquiry” has never been more critical to graduate student recruiters 
  • How 45% of graduate enrollment operations are unsure about who oversees their SEO management 
  • How driving students to your website is important, but it is just as crucial to maintain them on the website and be able to capture their information 
  • How email is considered the most effective way to communicate with prospective graduate students, but they seek personalization in that communication 

There was also much talk around the role of alumni in graduate student recruitment, Anne said. Surveys have found that 55% of institutions use their alumni in some way to recruit graduate students. Of those institutions, 33% report positive results.  

Interestingly, few are tracking how many undergraduates become graduate students at the same university, she said. One presenter during the session reported that 56% of graduate students attended the same institution as an undergraduate, demonstrating that undergraduate populations are an underutilized (and free) lead source for graduate recruitment. 

Lauren Gold

Lauren Gold

These issues were discussed further in another session Anne attended, “The Next Phase of Alumni Engagement for Recruitment & Ranking.” She also praised the statistics-packed session, “Unpacking the Graduate Student Enrollment Journey,” which included insights from the Graduate Student Enrollment Report, a collaborative study by marketing recruitment firm, Halda, and NAGAP.  

Phil Mason

Phil Mason

Anne was joined at the Capture booth by Phil Mason, Director of Inside Sales, and Lauren Gold, Vice President of Client Success.  

“When people stopped by the booth, they seemed genuinely interested in connecting and learning more,” she added. “It’s clear the NAGAP community really cares about doing their part to support access to higher education.” 

 By Kevin Hyde, Senior Marketing Content Manager, Capture Higher Ed