NAGAP Session Summary: Graduate Recruitment Strategies that Make the Dean’s List

The new issue of Perspectives, NAGAP’s magazine for graduate enrollment professionals, features session summaries from this past April’s 2018 NAGAP Annual Conference in New Orleans. On page 30, the magazine features a recap of “Graduate Recruitment Strategies that Make the Dean’s List,” a session that was presented by Jack Klett, director of recruitment at Jefferson — the institution created through a merger of Philadelphia and Thomas Jefferson universitiesand Amanda Scott, senior director at Capture Higher Ed.  

NAGAP Session Summary

Over the last few years, post-secondary enrollment has been on a steady decline. Graduate programs can be viewed as a kind of antidote to this, in that they draw in additional resources to promote overall enrollment.

Like anything else in higher education, graduate recruitment comes with its own set of challenges:

  • The Political/Economic Climate
  • Competition
  • “Shaping the Class”
  • Organic Lead Generation
  • Limited Resources

Amanda Scott offered solutions to each challenge, much as she would have advised a client. Jack Klett spoke up in agreement, having introduced these solutions in the aftermath of an institutional merger.

Political factors are a wild card, because they cannot be foreseen or controlled. The key is to be aware, advocate for any potential reform that is positive, and concentrate on affordability and ROI in the face of political instability. It’s important to maintain a sense of foundation and stability to prospective students through alumni testimonials and positive messaging from current students and faculty.

Competition will continue to be a factor, and as old pipelines for recruitment dry up, new relationships must be established through internal feeder networks and external partnerships. These relationships are better managed and better targeted through technology solutions like campaign-specific landing pages, progressive messaging, and other macro marketing strategies.

Shaping the class is an important consideration in graduate recruiting. Terminal degree-seekers are much more independent during the application process, and their choices are varied. Recruiters must ensure that they are attracting quality applicants. Technological marketing and recruitment strategies that focus on personal interaction with tailor-made content are key:

  • Digital Advertising
  • 1:1 automated messaging that calls to action and influences behavior
  • Online info sessions that are personalized

Organic lead generation goes hand-in-hand with shaping the class. Identifying the proper channels through which quality applicants can be found relies heavily on content marketing rather than promoting the institutional “brand.”

Having limited resources is perhaps the most common challenge. By applying technological solutions to recruitment, one can bring bandwidth or reach to one’s efforts. Recruitment is focused, nuanced, and predictive, allowing for easier identification of applicants.

After the merger of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University, recruitment changed entirely. If strategies like the ones proposed by Capture helped Jefferson recreate its entire identity, how might your program benefit from boosting its recruitment in similar ways?

By Stephanie Miller, Associate Director of Liberal Education for Arts Professionals (LEAP), Saint Mary’s College of California