Regardless of your graduate management education (GME) program’s unique qualities, there’s no denying that we’re living in a time of radical change in the world of GME admissions.
In order to spark discussion about the challenges ahead and inspire new approaches for overcoming them, Liaison recently hosted a roundtable forum featuring several GME experts. Panel members included:
- Shaun Carver, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs at the University of California San Diego Rady School of Management
- Toby McChesney, Senior Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs at Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business and Chair of Liaison’s BusinessCASTM Advisory Board
- Monica Powell, Senior Associate Dean at the University of Texas Naveen Jindal School of Management
- Dee Steinle, Executive Director of MBA and MSB Programs at the University of Kansas School of Business and Vice Chair of the BusinessCAS Advisory Board
The forum was moderated by Robert Ruiz, Liaison’s Vice President of Strategic Enrollment. Below are just a few of the factors the group identified as key drivers of today’s evolving GME environment.
Unpredictable international application trends
It would be a mistake to assume that every GME program shares the same concerns about international applications. For example, international students accounted for 50% of the University of Kansas GME applicant pool in 2015, according to Steinle. By 2018, that figure had dropped to just 11%.
On the other hand, Carver said his GME program has experienced a somewhat mystifying lack of change in that area. Two years ago the school focused heavily on recruiting international students, as evidenced by the fact that 50% of its travel budget was devoted to overseas recruiting trips. The following year he switched gears to focus on the theme, “All In On Domestic.” His staff only traveled overseas once, focusing instead on U.S. recruiting fairs. The result? There was almost no change in the percentage of domestic or international applications either year.
Carver concluded that, “Graduate fair ROI is very low and diminishing. Now we need to ask whether we should be doing any of these at all. It’s not how students want to be recruited anymore. But do we focus instead on digital strategies, knowing we’re not yet as good as we’d like to be? How do we transition?”
Fewer resources in admissions offices
When McChesney pointed to “declining human capital” in GRE admissions offices as one of his key concerns, the sentiment was quickly echoed by other forum participants. Strategies he’s embraced to counter the challenge of “doing more with less” include hosting more information sessions, coffee chats, webinars and Facebook Live events. He has also pushed for additional staff. And he decided to join BusinessCAS, Liaison’s online recruitment, admissions and data management portal. “It’s been fascinating,” he says of his experience with BusinessCAS. “My team at Liaison really hit the ground running.”
The evolution of the marketplace and the impact of the economy
“There are simply too many GME options out there today,” Powell said. “It creates incredible confusion in the marketplace.”
But that’s not Powell’s only concern. She also worries that the public perceives the MBA brand as “outdated” and that fewer potential applicants appreciate the value of an MBA. A strong domestic economy and lower unemployment also mean that the appeal of going back to (or staying in) school may have diminished, she added.
“So how do you create and promote change on campus?” Liaison’s Ruiz asked the group. Listening to the discussion that followed should be a top priority of every GME admissions professional in the country.
To hear the entire discussion — and to learn more about how BusinessCAS provides the tools and services that will help you build a better class no matter the obstacles you face — watch the on-demand webinar What’s Next for GME Admissions? Four Business School Leaders Weigh In.