Informing graduate enrollment management : marketing and admissions through students' perspectives
Stack, Sandra J.
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This study identifies college choice factors influencing working graduate students to enroll in an MBA program at a private university. The Education Marketing P Prism (EMPP), a survey instrument, was developed and electronically administered to 934 enrolled students at a private higher education institution in the United States. The response rate was 341 or 37%. Colleges and universities use marketing and admissions intelligence to inform their enrollment management strategies and offset declining student enrollments, budget deficits, and increasing competition. Enrollment management research has focused on undergraduate students and factors that influence their college choices. Graduate students today are multigenerational creating a greater need for graduate enrollment management research. Quantitative research methodology was used to identify the factors that influence the enrollment decisions of current enrolled business graduate students. Key elements of enrollment management organization and strategy and integrated marketing concepts such as the four Ps (product, price, place, promotion) informed this study. Specific research questions examined the factors that influenced the enrollment decision of business graduate students. Factors were mapped to a modified marketing P framework and to Individual Student Factors (ISFs) or University Organizational Factors (UOFs). Results of factor analysis showed a reorganization of items within a new marketing P framework and a reduction of survey items from 62 to 31. Using the new P marketing framework, findings showed ability to balance work and school (Mean = 1.72) most strongly influenced students’ decisions to enroll at the study university. Analysis of variance, ANOVA, was conducted for each marketing Ps (people, personal, place, price, product, promotion). Results show there was a difference for parents’ bachelor’s education and the marketing P subgroup product program attributes (p = .001). There were no differences between the Boomer and Generation X age groups on the influence of enrollment factors. Ultimately, many different factors may influence the personal decision to attend an MBA program and personal factors are complex for graduate education. For the findings from the EMPP instrument to be useful, universities must determine which elements of the marketing P mix are most important to their target audience to inform marketing and admissions enrollment management strategies. The findings from this study suggest that influential enrollment factors for working graduate students are different from those identified in the literature for undergraduate students.