Grad School Prospects Want Data and Transparency

by | Apr 18, 2024

Even a small amount of information could make a big difference in getting the prospects you want.

As spring brings warmer weather and longer days, graduate school prospects are already looking ahead and making crucial decisions about the fall. Some students may be deciding among multiple programs, while others are determining whether to go back to school at all.

For administrators at law and business schools, it’s not too late to engage with the prospects you want most to convince them to enroll. But how?  

A recent report from Third Way and Global Strategy Group offers guidance. In a survey of 1,000 current and recent graduate students, respondents indicated that any additional data about the return on their investment could help them decide which program was right for them.

Among graduate students surveyed who were employed full-time, 90 percent said grad school was definitely or probably worth it.  However, students and prospects alike desire visibility and transparency into program outcomes.

Inside Higher Ed summarizes the findings: “Students in graduate education also advocated for more transparency about postgraduate outcomes, even if the data are imperfect. Three-fourths (76 percent) of students said they wanted more transparency from their institution, even if it requires additional resources.”

That means graduate programs that want to be competitive should prioritize a) collecting meaningful data and b) sharing that information with prospective students.  The survey results indicate which data points matter, as seen in this table from Third Way:

In addition to program costs and completion rates, other topics of importance are program completion rates, job placement rates, how well graduates perform on required exams (e.g., Bar Exam), and anticipated income post-graduation.  Not all data has to be quantitative, as prospects and students indicated they also want to hear alumni success stories.

Undoubtedly, data collection and analysis can create an added burden for institutions; however, the payoffs may be worth that additional investment. Third Way shares that “when asked about these trade-offs, students overwhelmingly responded in favor of the argument for increased transparency about outcomes (76%) with only a quarter believing the burden would be too much and institutions are currently doing the best they can with the information available to them.”

This tells us that even a single, additional data point can provide value and help persuade prospects who might be on the fence about enrolling. It’s about the perception of being transparent and acknowledging the information that matters most to prospective students. 

Perhaps your program is sitting on data you don’t even know about!  Do you keep in touch with alumni?  Do you have even anecdotal information on career success post-graduation?  If so, it’s time to organize and analyze that data so that when next spring rolls around, you’re prepared to share at a key moment in the prospect decision process.

If your program hasn’t yet started collecting this data, now is the time to get going.  MF Digital utilizes simple surveys, targeted focus groups, and semi-structured interviews to gather qualitative and quantitative data that our clients use to make informed decisions that help optimize their prospecting strategy and give them an advantage over other grad programs.

“Students are making one of the biggest investments of their lives without data that assures a worthwhile investment,” explains Third Way.  “Business as usual will no longer suffice.” Prospects and graduate students are telling us what they want to hear. Are you listening? We are, and we’re ready to respond.



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