7 Tips for Securing Your Next Business School Cohort

Posted by Sian Phillips
Sian Phillips is the editor of BusinessBecause and has worked across magazines and newspapers for two decades. Previously, she was content director of summits and events at Times Higher Education.

Posted on Oct 17, 2022 12:06:20 PM

blog_students studying togetherBusiness school admissions teams are united in a common goal: recruiting the highest quality applicants into their programs. What are some tricks for doing so?

More than 500 business schools­—including the world’s top institutions—have access to the GMASS database. Listing around 550,000 candidates worldwide, GMASS is an essential tool for aiding the recruitment process as it connects business schools with prospective GME students.

In our latest GMAC Connect webinar, Back to Basics with GMASS: Connect with the World’s Largest Pipeline of Qualified GME Talent for Your Next Cohort,
we explored several ways business schools can secure applicants through smart use of the GMASS tool. Here are seven tips:

1. Make sure you fully understand the applicant journey

Around 15,000 new candidate leads are added to the GMASS database every month. There are three types of applicants in the pipeline. Knowing each group can help admissions and marketing teams decide who to target. The first set is made up of new early prospects who have recently opted into the GMASS database, but these could be anywhere along their application journey —from the early business school research stage, to test preppers or even at the point of application—this group has yet to provide much information to their profile. The second group is formed of pre-test leads who are a bit further along their journey and are considering their business school and program choices. These candidates haven’t taken their GMAT tests yet. The last group are candidates who have taken the GMAT exam and who are likely to choose their favoured programs and schools—and apply soon.

2. Set GMASS searches and check your results

To ensure that your business school is on the front foot, take the time to set a regular search for your desired candidate profile within GMASS. Some schools like to have searches set for each of their different programs but once you’ve found the searches that work, sit back, and enjoy a steady pipeline of fresh leads. To keep ensuring that your search is working well, check your candidate flow, and think about setting one-off searches for individual or seasonal events such as The MBA Tour events.

3. Make tweaks to ensure your candidate pipeline

To support your ongoing supply of potential applicants, think about some of your search settings. For example, if you’ve set your search age range as too narrow, you may be missing out on candidates. Or if you’ve chosen a specific age range as well as a brief work experience metric, you may be removing candidates that fit one but not the other, but who could work well as a part of your next cohort. To avoid this pitfall, only choose age range or work experience, not both, to ensure the greatest potential to connect with right-fit candidates.

4. Don’t forget about undecided candidates

Early prospects are a rich resource. Although little is known about the early stage leads (or pre-test leads who are still working through their options), these can also be a great source of candidates for your school because they’re open to being influenced! Hristo Gopin, head of business intelligence at Hult International Business School, explained how his school has had success by focusing on these earliest prospects.

5. Have a strong communication strategy

As Hristo from Hult said, tailoring communication to the candidates’ decision-making stage is a powerful way of piquing their interest. When candidates are still deciding on which program to settle, broad messages about the school’s location and its reputation are relevant. Specific program recommendations can come later in your communication plan or can be appropriate for those later-journey prospects who have already taken the GMAT exam. Don’t forget also: GMAC research has shown that Gen Z candidates need to be communicated with seven times before they act.

6. Get personal

As you progress your communication with a candidate, messages should be getting increasingly more personal. The more data you have about a candidate, the easier this is! The further down their application journey, the more you’ll need to leverage this data to position your school against the other ones of the candidate’s short list. If a candidate is picking between a couple of MBA programs, they should be invited to your school, to take a coffee with alums or professors.

7. Rely on recommendations
For several years, candidates in the GMASS database have been sent up to 9 business school recommendations based on their GMAT scores or their preferences. From fall 2022, schools themselves can also see to which candidates they have been recommended. The advantage of identifying this cohort is that these candidates have been ‘warmed up’—and could therefore be more receptive to your communication.


Stay up-to-date with the latest developments in GMASS:
Premium insights for schools will be increasing over time as the GMASS database is enhanced, so it pays to keep an eye out for updates. One such upcoming update will be that you can see which other schools have been recommended to ‘your’ targets. This could really help you to personalize the message you send out to help you focus on the points of differentiation that your school offers. So, stay in touch with GMASS and upcoming webinars to find out how to get an edge on your competitors. You can also visit our webpage to learn more about GMASS premium insights. 

Topics: Recruitment & Marketing, GMASS, graduate business school candidate, graduate business school, Process Tips & Best Practices, Business school application, business school, recruiting, admissions, business school admissions, candidate insights, webinar

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