New Thinking Required: Unlearning Old Approaches and Reinventing the GME Experience at the AACSB Deans Conference

By now you’ve probably realized that you’re not alone. Your peers in graduate management education across the country are also scrambling to understand and overcome existential new enrollment challenges that probably weren’t even on your radar a few short years ago.

It’s gotten to the point where some industry professionals even question whether the MBA “brand” itself is at risk of losing luster and relevance.

Identifying the new challenges facing today’s graduate admissions and enrollment industry is relatively easy. Fewer international students are choosing to pursue graduate management education in the United States. The growing number of specialized MBA programs is increasing competition and pulling students away from traditional programs. A relatively strong domestic economy may be tempting more people to enter (or stay in) the workforce rather than the classroom.

Identifying long-term solutions is a more difficult task that may vary from program to program. However, one truth is universal: Regardless of the specific obstacles you face today, you probably need to abandon at least some of your “old school” strategies in order to reinvent the way you do business — and the way the world sees the MBA.

Collaboration is Key

While it may initially seem counterintuitive, increasing your alliances with competing schools and other industry thought leaders — rather than embracing an “us-versus-them” mentality — may be one of the best ways to increase your program’s visibility and to achieve key enrollment goals during these particularly turbulent times.

Consider the benefits of working with a partner such as Liaison International, the Watertown, Massachusetts-based provider of BusinessCASTM, an online graduate management admissions tool designed to make life easier for enrollment professionals and applicants alike.

By working with Liaison one on one, you’ll be able to streamline the admissions process, offer a state-of-the art application experience and gain insights into enrollment trends.

And students who log onto to BusinessCAS to explore even a single school or program have access to information about every other participating school and program, so you’ll also be able to instantly increase awareness of your program and expand your pool of potential applicants. (Applicants only need to upload their application materials once. They can then apply to as many programs as they’d like simply by indicating their choices on the easy-to-use BusinessCAS online portal.)

“The immediate issue that BusinessCAS resolves is to make the MBA application process seamless and efficient for students,” said Dee Steinle, executive director of MBA and MSB programs at the University of Kansas School of Business and vice chair of Liaison’s BusinessCAS Advisory Board. “We all share a common ‘front door’ to our industry where prospective students can research our programs and ultimately send an application. When you think about the time and money a student will save on developing a single application instead of several applications, it is clear that BusinessCAS will be a good move for our industry. It is definitely a good move for the KU MBA.”

Increase Your Discoverability

Diversity is not a buzz word. Diverse classrooms have the potential to create greater opportunities for more members of society, enhance learning, promote broader world views and produce more effective, open-minded business and community leaders.

For your school or program, making a commitment to build a diverse class involves a lot more than focusing on a few characteristics, such as race or nationality. A student body’s level of diversity may also take into account members’ gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical disability status, veteran status and socioeconomic or geographical background.

If your program doesn’t have the exposure and accessibility necessary to attract and admit students from the most diverse applicant pool possible, your long-term enrollment initiatives may be at risk of failing. That’s not a problem when BusinessCAS is part of the picture.

“We always try to use technology to help us in our recruiting efforts. I think being part of marketplace like BusinessCAS allows us to have basically a storefront,” says Loubna Bouamane, PhD, director of admissions for graduate business programs at the University of Miami. “Students who may not have considered the University of Miami see us and discover one of our programs is a good fit for them. It definitely helps in terms of exposure and accessibility as now students don’t have to look up schools individually, they can go to one place and research different schools and programs. That’s really how we saw BusinessCAS — as an opportunity for us to be easily searchable and easily discovered.”

To learn more about how BusinessCAS can help you navigate today’s challenges while anticipating tomorrow’s, visit the Liaison booth at the upcoming AACSB Deans Conference in Vancouver, Canada, from February 10-12, 2019.