MBA Online Student Recruitment… Reviewing 4 Inquiry Forms

Inquiry forms… Small variations among our 4 MBA programs

In this 7th installment of our review of the online recruitment practices of our 4 MBA programs (American University, University of Dayton, Simmons College, Syracuse University) attention turns from the emails received to the inquiry forms used to build a recruitment database. If this is your first visit to the series, the 1st installment is here.

We’re looking at several elements in today’s inquiry form review:

  • Do the forms follow the direct marketing principle that shorter forms result in more inquiries? (Longer forms, of course, might mean that the people who persist to completion are more interested than those who do not and thus produce a higher conversion percent.)
  • Do the forms go beyond basic contact info to attempt to pre-qualify the inquiry, collect demographic information, or create a personal profile of the potential student?
  • Are there any potential privacy problems with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance if the school is recruiting students who live in the European Union?

Will we find a relative rare “blessedly brief” inquiry form?

A first note… Each school uses the same “program partner”

Let’s start at the end. When a potential student finishes an inquiry form and is about to hit “Submit,” each school presents this note:

  • “The Kogod School of Business’ program partner works with multiple universities to offer online graduate programs in business administration and other fields.”
  • That’s followed by a pre-checked box: “Yes, I would like to learn more about these additional online graduate programs.”

The “program partner” (not identified on the form) is 2U, a technology firm that provides not only the inquiry form but the technology that delivers the entire program.

  • “2U partners with top colleges and universities to deliver the world’s best online learning experiences” in a variety of program areas. A list of partner schools is here.

And so we don’t have to review the individual inquiry forms in detail. Differences do exist and we’ll note these.

The first call to action…

Each school except Dayton makes the inquiry form the first very large thing seen as the entry page opens, stretched completely across the width of the page on a large screen. Can’t miss it.

Syracuse University Online MBA inquiry formOne school, Syracuse University, offers a short note about the form before you start:

  • “The following information will help us get a better understanding of your background and whether you are a good fit for the program.” Is that a hint that the inquiry form might also serve as a screening tool to rank inquiries for follow-up? Or perhaps no follow-up at all?

The 1st part of a 3 part form…

Each inquiry form opens with a single question. For American, Syracuse, and Simmons that’s: “Which program most interests you?” Dayton takes a different path with: “How many years of work experience do you have?”

The 2nd part… Profile and qualifying questions…

Syracuse University asks 6 questions, the most from any school.

  • “How many years of work experience do you have?”
  • “After earning your degree, in which industry do you plan to work?”… (Syracuse is the only school asking this question, with 12 choices plus “Other.”)
  • “What is your highest level of education completed?”
  • “What was your undergraduate GPA?”
  • “Which category best describes your undergraduate major?”
  • “Have you taken the GRE, GMAT or LSAT within the last five years?”

American University asks 5 of the same questions, skipping “your undergraduate major.” The “GRE, GMAT or LSAT” question is included with the note that “Test scores are not a requirement for admission” Does American want a test score if available? That’s not clear. If they don’t care, why ask the question?

University of Dayton never does ask for program of interest. The 5 questions on this 2nd page vary the most from the others. Dayton asks about GMAT but not GRE or LSAT. And it adds a “Are you military affiliated?” questions that includes “Spouse” and “Dependent” as two of 6 options.

Simmons College wins the brevity award, with just 3 questions here: work experience, highest level of education, and undergraduate GPA.

The 3rd part… Contact information

This page is the same for each school. Required info: Name, email, phone, state, zip code, country of citizenship, and country of residence.

  • We completed each form using a different name and email than used in 2017. We left checked the box to receive info from other programs… expect a later report on the variety of schools and programs that make email contact.

Privacy and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules…

This isn’t the place for a detailed review of GDPR but note these points that may require inquiry form changes here:

  • The intent of the regulation is to restrict organizations not only in how they use data obtained from website visitors but also in what is asked in the first place. If personal data requested is not used in the interests of the person providing it, it is best not to ask for it. The GDPR folk are interested in reducing the amount of marketing content acquired.
  • From the list of countries included on page 3 as possible citizenship selections, everyone is open to enrolling students who are citizens of EU countries. And so GDPR compliance is required. That includes the right of an EU citizen to request complete deletion of their record if they ask for that action. As some people might do if not accepted or if they drop out of a program.
  • This makes, for instance, Dayton’s curiosity about military status questionable unless this is demonstrably being used in some way to benefit the person completing the form. Why should a potential MBA student from Italy or France have to tell Dayton if their spouse served in the military?
  • That pre-checked box just before “Submit” on page 3 that allows using the information from an inquiry form to allow contact from other schools is questionable in the GDPR world. A better practice even without GDPR is to make this “opt-in” rather than “opt-out.”
  • But all in all, these forms are not nearly as intrusive as the typical undergraduate inquiry form used by U.S. colleges and universities.

Direct marketing principles…

While none of the forms are “blessedly brief,” none are especially onerous either. In general, inquiry forms used by graduate programs and professional schools are better than those used to feed the requirements of undergraduate enterprise software.

Starting with a single question (especially about program of interest) is a good beginning. The 2nd page is reasonably short (Simmons does get a prize here for asking only 3 items) and easy to complete.

Each program requires a phone number. That’s a good way to limit inquiries to those “ready to talk” if that’s a conscious part of the recruitment conversion plan. Requiring a phone number likely will reduce the total inquiries received for all but the programs with the strongest brand power.

Today’s closing note…

Congrats to the Kogod School at American University for responding first to today’s inquiry… a first email arrived at 4:19 and a second at 4:52. That’s enough for today.

Over the next few weeks… Facebook and Twitter

We’ll take a look at how each school communicates on Facebook and Twitter.

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