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Why grad students choose their future school, the importance of relationships in admissions, and the power of full-funnel attribution

Why grad students choose their future school, the importance of relationships in admissions, and the power of full-funnel attribution
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We interact with students from over 150 schools. Now we’re turning our connections into research. Our in-house data insights are in bold. If you like what you learn, go ahead and share it!

For grad students, it's excellence first, finances second

The factors that most influenced student decisions on where to attend graduate school:


#1 Program Quality (28%)

#2 Scholarships (15%)

#3 Alumni/Student Testimonials (13%)

#4 Admissions Support (13%)

#5 Financial Cost (11%)

#6 Student Life (11%)

#7 Other (7%)

#8 School Location (2%)

What this means:


We have an even more comprehensive report coming, so consider this a data hors d'oeuvre–a taste of what we’ve found when it comes to a grad student’s enrollment decision. Some of the results surprised us.


First, program quality reigns supreme for graduate students, even more than financial considerations. If you combine “Financial Cost” and “Scholarships” into a single category, they still fall short of “Program Quality” as the decision driver.


Essentially, grad students aren't here for extra perks and distractions. They want the best education they can get, preferably at a manageable cost. To find this education, they’re willing–even eager–to venture outside of their comfort zones. 82% of students don’t go to grad school at the same place they did their undergrad, and 65% don’t even consider their alma mater.


The question is, are you framing your academic programs to tell a story of institutional excellence? If you’re not, we suggest starting with alumni and student testimonials. Based on the survey, those personal content pieces punch way above their weight class when it comes to securing graduate enrollments.

Relationships matter more than ever


6.2: Average number of graduate schools that students investigate

3.8: Average number of graduate schools that students apply to


Students report starting their grad school search 18 months before they plan to begin their program, but don’t send in applications until 6 months before that start date. Despite that entire year of research, however, they send applications to less than 4 schools. 


More than ever, students are discerning buyers. They're researching more deeply, asking harder questions, waiting longer to apply, and building relationships with schools before moving forward.


The earlier data–that 13% of students cite admissions support as the number one factor in their graduate school decision–supports this development.  Nearly 1 in 8 graduate prospects ranks the quality of their admissions experience over the quality of the school, how much it costs, and its track record of success.


The good news is your enrollment team has massive power to affect students. Finding creative, consistent ways to build real relationships with your prospects pays off. So don’t stop investing in all those little details that make students feel taken care of–and for the sake of your mental health find ways to do it at scale!

Kittie Pain: Innovator of the Student Experience

As Director of Graduate Admissions at Kutztown University, Kittie Pain personalizes the website experience across multiple graduate programs. Here are some tips she's picked up over a couple years with Halda:


Align web interactions with the school calendar and key events: Create consistent urgency around open houses, info sessions, and application checkpoints, while keeping track of which prospects intend to take meaningful action.


Connect Your Campus: Let your program directors, faculty, and other school leaders know which efforts your students are coming from. This gets them excited about the things you’re excited about, and gives them the chance to find their own ideas to support your best converting efforts.


Pipelines Take Patience: Enrollment cycle deadlines will always bring pressure, but Pain tempers that stress with long-term strategy. From a personalization standpoint, that means varying interactions over multiple years to meet students consistently in the moment.


To learn more about Kittie's strategy and personalization strategies, check out the rest of the profile!

There's only one metric: Enrollments

Often it seems we’re living the punchline of that old marketing joke:


“I know half my marketing budget is working…just not which half!”


Web traffic, leads, and applications are great, but if they don’t create enrollments, they’re fluff. That’s why we’re spearheading ways to find out exactly which campaigns and marketing channels are actually working.

How do we do this? Whenever a prospect lands on a school’s website, we track where they came from on a campaign level, along with how they behaved on the site.


When the student submits their information, that all becomes part of a student profile that suggests next actions.


Finally, we connect with a school’s CRM to learn whether those students converted to enrollments. This provides a fully-realized picture of how your marketing campaigns, web pages, and admissions team are combining to fill classes.


We call it full-funnel attribution, and we’re pumped for the value it can add to your budget-building process and overall efficiency. To learn more about how it works, here’s an in-depth look.

Jasper AI: The ChatGPT for marketers

Jasper has been around for awhile as one of the first reliable AI-driven content producers. And the best part is, it’s made for marketers. 


Jasper is trained to produce marketing copy for specific industries and needs. It’s more conversational in tone and nuanced in style. It also comes with a stable of templates for blogs, case studies, video scripts, social posts–pretty much whatever marketing materials you can imagine. 


AI-powered chatbots are kind of like friends, or shoes, or vacation destinations: The perfect fit is out there, you just might have to try a few that don’t quite fit your needs. Jasper, however, is a good place to continue your search. If you want to play around with it now, check it out!

Every 0.85 Seconds

Halda personalizes the experience for a prospect.

How often are you personalizing the experience for your potential learners?