Demand for grad school isn’t going anywhere. How can you reel students into your programs?

The report found that 56% of respondents are concerned with the return on investment of their program as the most crucial decision driver.

Graduate school isn’t an optional preference for many bachelor’s degree holders—it’s a demand. That’s what a recent report from Spark451, a Jenzabar Company, suggests when it found that 64% of undergraduates who began college between four and six years ago are either enrolled in a graduate program now or are seriously considering taking the next step.

Among the 1,400 students surveyed, nearly one-third (32%) were already in a master’s program. Of the 35% who hold a bachelor’s degree and have yet to start a master’s degree, 90% are interested in grad school. The bachelor’s earners’ interest is so immediate that 77% reportedly intend to begin their degree in 12 months or less, and more than half said they plan to start in the next six months.

The survey piles on recent data illustrating the sustained professional benefits of possessing a degree and the current faults with alternative credentials. With upper-level credentials showing promise despite turbulent enrollment figures, here are some insights institutions should be aware of when considering the student perspective.

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What is top-of-mind for prospective graduate students?

The report found that 56% of respondents are concerned with the return on investment of their program as the most crucial decision driver. Here is a breakdown of the 10 most significant factors weighing students’ minds.

  1. Return on investment
  2. Professional connections
  3. Cost
  4. Institutional reputation
  5. In-person class format
  6. Flexibility in course format
  7. Employer reimbursement for tuition
  8. Online class format

Aside from the wage bump graduate students can expect upon receiving their credentials, evidence suggests students are using these programs as a gateway to enter specialized industries they’re currently blocked out of. Only 37% of respondents interested in pursuing a graduate degree said they worked in their preferred sector. Furthermore, the fully online class format seems to be a non-starter for students, considering over 90% prefer in-person or hybrid modalities only.

Reeling students into your program

With sustained interest in graduate degrees, knowing what marketing strategies might be the most effective in grabbing a student’s attention is important. When served ads about colleges, 51% of students reported “very” or “somewhat” likely to click on them.

Google remains the most influential digital channel through which students can receive information about graduate school. However, there seems to be a sustained interest in social media sites. LinkedIn came in a close second to Google, followed by YouTube and Instagram. Knowing that, students are most likely to visit a social media site and thus run into your ads between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., followed by 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The benefits attracting students the most to an ad are:

  1. Scholarship offers
  2. Internships/networking opportunities
  3. Ranking of program/school
  4. Application fee waiver
  5. Online programs/scheduling flexibility
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

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