The Power of Community and Comparison in Business Programme Admissions

 Modern consumers often set out to purchase an item with a clear vision in mind. The process of research and comparison, however, frequently leads shoppers to buy a different model than the version they originally considered. In the digital age, buyers have become accustomed to quickly identifying the options available and choosing the best fit.

Business programmes can benefit from this desire to research and compare — in many cases, schools have the opportunity to attract applications from candidates who had never heard of their institutions before. Choosing from a greater number of applicants allows schools to be more selective and accept the ideal mix of incoming students to create a better class.

Casting a wider net
Members of associations such as AMBA can tap into the power of BusinessCAS™, a Centralized Application Service (CAS™) for graduate management programs that is available at no cost to their institutions. When member schools provide information about their graduate business offerings and accept applications through BusinessCAS, they gain exposure to a broader pool of prospective students. Applicants benefit from a global marketplace for researching and applying to business schools. They can easily find the programmes that match their preferences.

With many countries facing economic challenges, students may be more reluctant to take on the cost of full-time MBA study, according to Soumitra Dutta, board chair at the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the business school accreditation body. “When the economy doesn’t do well, business schools suffer,” he says.

Other institutions find that a down economy inspires students to seek safe haven from the uncertainty of the job market by going back to school full time. No matter which is the case, the ability to connect with students from many different regions ensures schools can maintain a healthy admissions pipeline, no matter their economic or political climates.

GMAC found that graduate programs in Europe and Canada are about twice as likely to report growth in international applicants compared with the U.S.With 94% of employers seeking students with experience solving problems working with those who hold different views, and 87% saying they believe students should develop inter-cultural skills, diversity has become a key focus for many schools. BusinessCAS supports programmes working to build diverse student populations by helping them easily connect with a larger pool of global applicants through communities like AMBA.   

Streamlining the process for students and schools alike
Completing a single application for multiple programmes saves students time and makes it easier for them to apply to several schools at once. In addition, enabling prospective students to easily compare programmes ensures they truly understand the similarities and differences — organisations have an opportunity to showcase their brand and clearly express what makes each of their programmes unique. Armed with this information, applicants have a better understanding of which schools may offer the best fit, so admissions staff are often dealing with students who are more knowledgeable about the school and its programmes.

Schools have the option to customise the application to align with their specific admissions processes. The CAS easily allows you to gather responses to unique questions and collect any additional resource materials your team uses to evaluate prospective students — requirements may vary from programme to programme.

BusinessCAS also simplifies application review, providing admissions professionals visibility into each applicant’s credentials and qualifications. Detailed analytics help admissions officers work more efficiently to meet strategic enrollment goals. Reports deliver insight into the applicant pool, allowing for targeted recruiting in areas that need it most, as well as personalized communications with individual applicants.

For example, GMAC reports that MBA programs make up 59% of all graduate business programs, but receive 79% of applications. Early insight into low applications for other programmes equips admissions teams to focus their efforts where they are needed most.

Programmes that have adopted a CAS report increases in applicants ranging from 12% to 125%, paired with a decrease in incomplete applications. “Throughout our time using a CAS, we’ve maintained a ratio of over four applications for every seat even as the average for programmes in our other disciplines has dropped,” says one admissions officer.

Fortunately, the CAS also makes it easier for schools to process applications. Transcript verification services and GPA calculation save time and reduce manual errors. “Instead of manually processing a GPA or reviewing multiple test scores to get an official score, we can now easily assemble and track all the details we need to make really good decisions for our programmes,” one marketing and admissions director says.

As an example, one programme was able to increase the diversity of their incoming class by 10% within one cycle after adopting a CAS. Consider the potential boost in meeting your strategic admissions and enrollment goals.

Enabling stronger connections
Dr. Christine Carmichael, a director of graduate admissions, says her faculty have offered amazing feedback about the CAS. “Before, it would take up to a week to review 60 or so folders, with faculty spending every waking moment that we weren’t teaching or doing research looking at graduate applications. Now we still have two faculty reviewers for each applicant, but they can review all of their applicants in one day’s time — in less than an eight-hour day.”

Because the CAS ranks applicants based on criteria your department defines for each programme, reviewers have more time to focus on materials such as personal statements, letters of recommendation, scholarships, awards and work/volunteer experience.

Dr. Marian Carter, an assistant dean of enrollment management and student services, also appreciates the insight the CAS provides on each student, enabling the admissions team to select best-fit students. “When we get together we know extraordinary details about these students — their personal goals, their career aspirations and professional development goals. We have rubrics in place to score these different elements and weigh them fairly.”

The CAS allows students to set communication preferences, so schools can send messages through the channels students select. Connecting with prospects through their preferred methods of communications helps build trust and inspire confidence — important steps in the recruiting process. The ability to reach students via mobile devices has become a priority in recent years, with Statcounter reporting that more than half of all internet traffic worldwide is mobile, with higher concentrations (between 60 and 80 per cent) found in areas where schools are focusing international recruitment efforts, such as Asia, Africa and India.

Getting started with CAS
On 23 January at 13.00 GMT, seasoned admissions and enrollment management professionals will explain how graduate business programmes are benefiting from BusinessCAS. During the webinar, Bob Alig, an education executive with global experience at a major university and leading education organizations, will show how BusinessCAS has helped these programmes be “heard above the noise.”

Register for 3 Business Admissions Essentials to Strengthen Your Reach and Impact to see how schools are:

  • Promoting their programmes in a central graduate management education marketplace to attract a broader range of applicants.
  • Driving application completion through a streamlined interface and targeted communications.
  • Reducing processing time by eliminating tedious manual tasks and freeing up admissions staff to spend more quality time with applicants.

Click here to register for the webinar today.