Let’s Talk Undergrads!

Undergraduate Updates from the Key Initiatives Director, Americas

“Think Like an Entrepreneur” Campaign

This semester, we’ve doubled down on testing new approaches to connect and understand undergrads, starting with our inaugural “Think Like an Entrepreneur” campaign that connects social impact with the business skills they need to be successful. We asked students to create a product, program, or service that addressed a social cause they care about and after a round of reviews by a panel of industry experts, we had students choose their favorite project. With 6,000 site visitors, 46 submissions and over 3,500 votes, we narrowed it down to the grand prize winner and four runners-up. They are:

  • Grand Prize Winner of $10,000: Michael Lai, Hofstra University
  • Runner Up ($500): Joseph Eiselt, Marquette University
  • Runner Up ($500): Charlie Peck, Elon University
  • Runner Up ($500): Leah Hernandez, Clark Atlanta University
  • Runner Up ($500): Max Kessler and Vick Liu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This theme of entrepreneurship allowed us to engage with more influencers and partners with a strong undergrad presence and expand our reach beyond business school with more leads captured from outside the business school and among younger candidates. We garnered 50 percent more leads, 60 percent of which were non-business majors (compared to 35 percent to 40 percent in prior semesters). This approach enabled ambassadors to complete 40 percent more events on campus.

Undergrad Focus Group and Survey Learnings

We are incorporating new ways to gain feedback on the undergrad mindset, their influencers, where they receive their messages, and how to “go where they are.” We hosted our first focus group of the year at the end of April and are now getting ongoing perspectives through monthly surveys in the field via the OCP website and ambassadors. If there are any burning questions you have for undergrads, email me and I’ll do my best to accommodate. Our latest learnings:

  • Seventy-five percent of candidates would be interested in badges throughout their journey to graduate business school or for a GMAT badge for their online resume (Pop-up question on gmat.com/undergrads)
  • The top ways students would like information on financing their degree (April Ambassador survey):
    • Email series (36 percent)
    • Website / Online (25 percent)
    • Downloadable PDF (22 percent)
  • The three primary reasons undergrads pursue graduate school has remained constant: career advancement, higher salary, and better job placement; “job security” was a lower priority than in prior years (2019 GME Awareness Survey)
  • Pricing continues to be one of the largest concerns for undergrads as they consider graduate business school (April 2019 Focus Group)
  • For the third year in a row, we are seeing an increase in students from 44 percent to 67 percent indicating they will apply to b school after gaining work experience (2019 OCP Registration Survey)

In our efforts to understand how else GMAC can support driving the candidate to b-school, we put a survey in the field around deferred enrollment programs, asking whether candidates were aware of this option and whether they were interested. Only 37 percent said they were familiar with the concept and almost half were interested in applying for such a program while in undergrad. Their primary reasons? A guaranteed pathway to an MBA, flexible timelines to begin the program, and the ability to apply now while they’re still an undergrad. If your institution has a deferred enrollment program and you’d like to be featured in an upcoming campaign to educate undergrads on this option, feel free to contact me at cjohnson-perkins@gmac.com, or take this survey.

See you at Annual Conference!

Come find me in the GMAC Lounge during Annual Conference and let’s chat about your efforts to connect with undergrads and swap stories about new efforts to engage this younger audience. Look forward to seeing you all there!

Christa Johnson

Christa Johnson-Perkins
Key Initiatives Director, Americas