Developing the Undergraduate Pipeline

GMAC remains committed to building the pipeline of undergraduate students who consider GME as evidenced by the On Campus Presence (OCP) program. We have learned a lot about undergraduates in the past few years by testing different marketing strategies, messages, influencer outreach, and pricing, among other things, and each of these has given us a better understanding of how best to influence this treasure trove of a demographic.

Before sharing learnings and outcomes from 2016/17, let us remind you of the undergraduate mindset.

  •  Many of them start thinking about grad school as early as high school.
  • They are short-term, career-focused.
  • They seek advice from friends and parents.
  • They are skeptical of advertising and seek authenticity.
  • They spend 14+ hours per day with technology and social media.

Fall 2016 - Spring 2017: Key Learnings and Outcomes

To determine what tactics were most impactful in promoting graduate management education and the GMAT as the first step for students who are serious about business, we engaged students at 70 schools in two groups of on campus marketing programs:

  • Ambassador schools: 1 – 2 ambassadors, typically from the UG business school, with outreach objectives across the semester, including tabling events, large campus events, faculty breakfasts, group/class presentations, social media, flyering, and chalking. These schools also receive digital support.
  • Digital schools: Receive paid social, search, display, and native programming based on age, geographic location, and field of study.

Among both our school groups, we saw notable increases in leads, unique website visitors, and registrations among target populations.  We also gathered more data than we thought possible around the impact of various marketing tactics.


What we learned or validated:

  • On campus events with the visible support or engagement of faculty are the most impactful on the GME value proposition (faculty breakfasts, class presentations, and large campus events) as they add additional credibility to students
  • Influencer marketing continues to be a healthy strategy for reaching undergrads. Connecting studetns with the GME path through advisors, peers, student groups, and faculty deepen the message with undergrads earlier as it is from a trusted source. 

What we plan to incorporate in the 2017 - 2018 outreach:

  • Equipping schools with the necessary resources to conduct undergrad outreach, broadening the current set of resources to incorporate career, specialized masters, and more comprehensive GME content
  • Expanding partner relationships, such as Golden Key, NACADA, and Beta Gamma Sigma, with increased ongoing marketing activity to support their outreach to high potential candidates
  • Continuing to invest in programs that directly support building the undergraduate pipeline including on campus marketing and website enhancements,

How can you get started with undergraduate outreach on your campus?

  • Understand the undergrad mindset and adjust your marketing accordingly
  • Leverage their influencers
    1. Equip their advisors to talk about the value proposition of a graduate business degree in addition to their first job after college
    2. Have your grad students host chats or encourage faculty to talk about the path to B-school
  • Start the conversations now. Even if you don’t want your undergrads in your grad program, help build the pipeline for GME.
  • Host a webinar or Google Hangout for undergrads in your community.
  • Secure your own ambassador (a grad student, work study, etc.)
  • Talk to clubs such as Beta Alpha Psi and Golden Key about the value proposition of a graduate degree. Reach out to the president or advisor and provide them with information about your program, speak at one of their chapter meetings, or provide them with digital resources they can put on their chapter website.

It was a momentous year with lots of learnings that has prepared us well for this fall. We’ve kicked off this semester’s efforts by partnering with an agency to further the ambassador and digital campaign strategies, as well as enhance the program microsite, broaden engagement with partners, and grow the advisor network. 

It’s going to be a busy semester and I can’t wait to share more about this exciting initiative! If you have any questions or ideas about OCP, undergrads, ambassadors, partners, or if we can be of assistance in your outreach efforts, please don’t hesitate to reach out at