Travels with a Graduate Enrollment Consultant
I recently had a chance to sit down with my colleague Reena Lichtenfeld, one of RNL’s busiest enrollment consultants who works with many of our graduate clients. Reena has held various enrollment leadership positions—must recently at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, but her background spans institutions of all sorts—including a stint with a for-profit institution. It is the breadth of that experience that I think makes each conversation with her interesting, informative, and thought provoking.
Reena got back “on the road” doing her strategic marketing and enrollment planning consulting long before most, and the institutions with which she has been working with over the last several months have refreshed and revived her after so many months working from home.
Of course, there have been some common themes of the work in recent months—the dual “push-pull” of:
- Opportunities that are in front of graduate schools as enrollment climbs; and
- The challenges of successfully positioning themselves in a period where resources are not only tight, but also being funneled in many cases to putting out the fire that is declining traditional undergraduate enrollment.
In this conversation, we not only talked about these common threads among graduate schools and programs, but also:
- The most interesting thing that she’s been seeing on her visits:
“Seeing how institutions are stepping up and meeting graduate students where they are, whether that be their concerns about returning to campus, their challenges with technology, or any number of other things.”
- The most surprising thing that she’s been seeing:
“How ready institutions and programs are to not only accept, but also embrace, online and hybrid, and so many of the other things that the pandemic has brought to their doors.”
- The greatest challenge that they are dealing with:
“The reconfiguration or re-engineering of student support teams that are ready and prepared to work with all the new challenges faced by the student.”
- The thing grad schools and programs need to confront and incorporate into their planning:
“Well, there are two thing: 1) The realization that graduate marketing is a digital game now. It’s all about the program not the institution, and the sooner they focus their marketing in this way, the more likely they will be to be a success. 2) Nothing is more important than speed: speedy response to inquiries, speedy response to questions throughout the funnel, and speedy admission.”
Watch our interview through to the end to learn what Reena and I think should be our next research project in support of innovation in graduate education.
What are your best enrollment strategies for graduate students?
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