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How to Improve Student Success at the Graduate Level

Episode 64

July 27, 2021 33 minutes


EAB experts Amy Luitjens and Ed Venit examine how colleges and universities are working to better support and guide graduate students toward achieving their educational goals.

They point out that today’s graduate students are more diverse, taking on more debt, and have higher expectations for how they want institutions to serve them.

Given current market trends, Amy and Ed suggest it is in a university’s financial self-interest to change and do more to help these students succeed.



0:00:12.9 Speaker 1: Hello and welcome to Office Hours With EAB. Our guests today talk about the tremendous strives made over the past 15 years in implementing best practices around student retention and support, at least in the undergraduate space. Unfortunately, many schools are falling short when it comes to helping their graduate students stay on path and graduate in a timely manner. Our experts talk about why this gap exists and share step schools can take to improve. Thank you for listening, and enjoy.


0:00:50.6 Amy Luitjens: Hello, and welcome to Office Hours With EAB. My name is Amy Luitjens and I’m a consultant and principal at EAB, and I’m joined by my colleague, Ed Venit, a managing director with our Student Success Group. In a nutshell, our work is centered around helping universities do a better job of recruiting, enrolling and supporting their students, helping them stay on path to graduation and earn their degree as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

0:01:14.9 AL: In my work, I consult with university leadership as they set and implement strategies to attract and enroll adult learners, ranging from Bachelor’s degree completers to graduate and professional students, leveraging best practices and most current landscape research as we provide innovative marketing solutions.

0:01:33.6 AL: Ed manages EAB’s research into student success best practices, and collaborates with student success leaders at dozens and schools who are doing really innovative work in this area. Schools, by and large, are a lot better at this than they were, say, 15 years ago. If you completely ignore what they’re doing for graduate students.

0:01:49.8 AL: So today, we’re going to talk about graduate student success, and the gap that colleges and universities need to close in terms of how they guide and support graduate students to achieve their educational goals. But before we begin, let’s set the stage. So right now, graduate students make up only 15% of the total student population in the United States, but they account for approximately 40% of student loans taken out each year.

0:02:15.0 AL: The average debt load of undergraduates upon graduation is around $25,000. 25% of grad students borrow almost $100,000, and 10% of grad students borrow more than $150,000. The graduate degree market has changed, the gold rush is over, schools have to get smarter. And so really, what we wanna do is, in this time we have together today, and in the conversations that we have frequently, really share and explain how important graduate programs are to universities in terms of enrollment and tuition dollars, but then also, why it’s all the more important to think about success initiatives at this critical moment in time.

0:03:02.7 AL: Students are going into graduate programs and they have higher expectations about how they wanna be treated and what they want in terms of a financial return on their educational investment. And as we all know, lingering pandemic impacts and the coming and here demographic cliff, are very much impacting graduate schools as well.

0:03:19.8 AL: So having set that landscape, let’s go ahead and dive right in. Ed, how about we start with you. Why do you think it’s taken universities and university leaders so long to come around to the idea that grad students need nudges and proactive touch points, just like undergraduate students?

0:03:37.9 Ed Venit: Hi Amy, and first of all, thank you for bringing me on the podcast today. Hi everyone. As Amy mentioned, my name is Ed Venit, I lead the student success research at EAB, and I’ve been thinking a lot about graduate student success over the last year, so I’m really, really excited to be chatting about this today.

0:03:56.5 EV: I think your question’s a complex one. With quite a few answers. The first one is probably that, the core of the institution you would think of as undergrads at most places. And so of course, they’re gonna get the most attention, you alluded to it before, they still represent majority of students, so of course that’s where schools are gonna focus.

0:04:17.8 EV: There’s also this perception that graduate students have already done it once, they completed college already, successfully once, so they figured it out, maybe they don’t need as much support when they’re attempting their next degree. Even though perhaps the first degree was a struggle, maybe they needed a lot of help to get to the finish line in that one.

0:04:36.0 EV: They’re not that terribly different when you move from being 22 and finishing your Bachelor’s degree, to being 23 or 24, even a bit older, and starting your Master’s degree or some other graduate program. I think the thing that maybe is most interesting for the two of us, and perhaps also for the audience, is the demographic nature as well.

0:04:55.9 AL: Yes.

0:04:57.2 EV: You alluded to it before, and it’s hard to visualize in a podcast, but I want everybody to be thinking about a graph of millennials moving into Gen Z. You probably know that millennials are a huge generation, lots and lots of people. And Gen Z, the generation that comes after, the oldest Zs are in their early 20s right now. The generation that comes after is a bit smaller, and of course they have different behaviors, but we’re not gonna talk about that so much today as we are gonna be about the total volume of them.

0:05:27.2 EV: Well, the peak year for high school graduation in the US is 2013, and after that, of course, fewer high school students, which meant that undergraduate admissions directors started feeling the pinch. And so we started thinking about student retention at the undergrad level as part of an enrollment strategy at a lot of schools. In some areas of the country that’s still coming around, others like the Northeast and the Midwest, it’s been a way of life or some years now.

0:05:55.6 EV: Well, that is gonna be a little bit delayed in the graduate space simply because of how we get older, progress through our lives. So those 2013 high school graduates are now, if you add eight years to that, 26. They’re right in the middle of the graduate school, kind of sweet spot market right now. So in a way enrollment is easy to get because there’s lots of students. That’s before you even factor in pandemic effects and economic change.

0:06:23.4 EV: So in a way, those pressures that have to get the undergraduate space, where you have to do a much better job not only recruiting but retaining those students, hanging onto them for enrolment purposes, hasn’t quite hit the graduate space yet, but it’s coming. It’ll be coming to the next few years as the Zs start working their way through undergrad into the graduate space.

0:06:44.6 EV: There’s a couple of different options there, you could try to draw more students in, you can open new programs, but we are definitely encouraging schools to be looking a lot more at retaining those students that you fight so incredibly hard to get in the first place, and in the future, are likely to continue to fight even harder to get.

0:07:00.5 EV: I know what you think about it, Amy, I just talked for quite a bit there, but this is also very much your world, so weigh in on that, and what do you think?

0:07:07.4 AL: Yeah, this is a conversation that we have frequently, both on campus and then internally here at EAB, is we tend to think about ways that we can serve students on the front end, and then to your point, through their experience. I think that while we won’t center our conversation today around behaviors and mindset shifts, I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t touch on it.

0:07:27.7 AL: Because a lot of that thinking, student mindset, is really driving how we’re thinking about the recruitment process, and we’re seeing success in the recruitment process as we take that into account. And that of course plays into like we’re talking about, the success piece.

0:07:42.4 AL: What I mean by that in real terms is, we know that the folks that you’re talking about, who are now becoming graduate and professional students, have a lot more diversity of experience, a lot more like we talked about at the outset, debt than they’ve ever had before. And also a keener expectation that institutions will meet them where they’re at as a result.

0:08:05.5 AL: They learned some of that as undergraduate students, and then some of it now, quite frankly, is just a raw need. Students have more family obligations, they have a much deeper desire to see return on investment from an educational perspective earlier on, than perhaps they ever have before. And so what that means for institutions in real terms on the front end, is that they shape their recruitment practices around three key things. So flexibility, affordability, and speed to completion.

0:08:32.6 AL: If you’re able to think about highlighting those three things and all the different tentacles that flow from them in your process as you highlight your institution in your programs, students respond to that effectively. And then once they enroll, they expect that same level of flexibility, speed to completion, affordability to continue through in support mechanisms as they work to quickly complete their degrees.

0:08:56.9 AL: So institutions that are able to continue those practices throughout, are most successful in retaining students. And to Ed’s point, that serves everybody, right? So you’re not just thinking about, “Gosh, we’re serving our students,” but you’re serving the institution, because you’re not necessarily having to then increase your recruitment efforts because you’re not retaining students.

0:09:19.6 AL: But then at the same time, to Ed’s earlier point, given that we’re in a decline from an undergraduate perspective and will be for the foreseeable future, we know that the market for graduate professional students is going to become all the more competitive. It’s not going to get easier. And so over time, we really need to think about setting a sustainable course within the context of what we’re doing to retain students, to make sure that not only are we getting them, but we’re keeping them. Ed, what are your thoughts on that?

0:09:48.9 EV: Yeah, I wanna riff on that just a little bit about what goals are. Most schools that have graduate programs spent the last decade, as you alluded to, building out their graduate programs as a gold rush. And the idea of just having programs pop up, coming from departments or the college level, but not really centrally organized, it was just a more a matter of, “Make lots of programs happen because there’s students that we want to absorb and attract.”

0:10:18.3 EV: That was kind of the story of a lot of schools for the last 10 years. That mentality is still in place for the 2020s, and we did a bit of a survey here of folks, looking at not just the graduate, but also adult learners, trying to see how important are these sort of students to school strategic enrollment plans. And about, I think it was 75% of school said, “This is a critical population for us.”

0:10:43.8 EV: And then we asked the deans of graduate education what their targets were, and we heard 15% growth, every single year. That’s an annual growth of 15% in the graduate space. Where are we gonna find these students? Because of the things we were just talking about, NCES is projecting basically flat graduate enrollment for the next 10 years. And who knows, it’s hard to predict the future, especially at this time.

0:11:11.8 EV: But I think 15% growth annually is a bit of an overshoot compared to what might be available on the market. So we have a situation where schools are incredibly competitive, and what was a gold rush will now become the proverbial red ocean versus the blue ocean, if you are a big fan of business books.

0:11:32.4 AL: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely, and I think that statistic or series of stats that you just shared Ed, is so critical for folks to internalize. Because I think it’s one thing to be on campus and be setting strategy and think, “Gosh, we probably could grow this much and we’re going to just commit to it for a number of reasons, whether that’s revenue or we just wanna fill classes, or we have some neat offerings we’re really excited to share more broadly.”

0:11:57.0 AL: But to your point, the challenge then becomes that if we just look at the bare numbers, you’re not going to likely get 15% growth with a flat market. And based on what the National Student Clearinghouse has shared with us most recently about undergraduate enrollment, we know that it’s on a steep decline right now, particularly when we think about students going to community colleges. Certainly in undergraduate institutions in a traditional context at large.

0:12:18.9 AL: So all that is to say, like we’ve talked about, setting the stage. There are a number of things to be aware of and really prepare for, knowing the market is no longer that gold rush Ed was talking about. So with that said, let’s pivot the conversation a little bit to thinking about, okay, so we know that it might be a little harder to recruit students, or a lot harder in some cases.

0:12:36.8 AL: We need to be thinking about if we’re offering the right program mix and how we’re advertising it, to really align with how students are thinking about what they want out of education and how we can deliver it. So that’s one piece of it. But then once they enroll, what are we doing to track their success and retain them, and what metrics might exist?

0:12:57.7 AL: Now Ed, I’d love for you to take a minute to reflect on a lot of the conversations you’ve been having recently with university recruiters around the country, about the degree to which that hazard hasn’t been happening, and sort of what we’re thinking about that?

0:13:10.7 EV: Yeah, let me break that down in just sort of three chunks. The first should be, we should talk about what does success mean for graduate students? ‘Cause it’s a little bit more complicated than for undergrads in a lot of cases. Then let’s talk a little bit about the state of affairs. What’s the current state of practice? Where are we hearing the most activity here? Where do we see some green shoots of growth happening, as far as the schools’ ability now to support structures for graduate students. What do those look like?

0:13:40.0 EV: And then I wanna talk about data and accountability, because I was… Of all the things that I’ve learned, having chats with several dozen different graduate school executives over the past few months, one of the things I’ve been very surprised to learn is just how little data is being explored here around the retention angle.

0:13:56.7 EV: Everybody looks at admissions data and recruitment data, but they’re not really looking at retention data, at least not in kind of a widespread national way, and I think that’s a big mistake. So let’s talk about that, maybe third, and go through the other two first. So real quick, what does graduate student success mean?

0:14:13.9 EV: We know what undergraduate success means, right? Well, kind of. We know the federal government defines it as first-time full-time students that make it to the next term, that’s retention. And then, do you graduate within 150% of the expected time, three years for a two-year student, and six years for a four-year student. Again, at the same institution you started.

0:14:33.6 EV: And we know those are flawed metrics to begin with, but they’re relatively simplistic in tracking degree completion. What happens in the… Or the graduate space? Well, Master’s degree is functioning along in the same way, did the student get done. But what if you’re a law student? The most important part of being a law student is actually after you’re done being a law student, it’s passing the bar. And that is what law schools hold themselves accountable to. EABA does.

0:14:55.2 EV: What if you’re talking about doctoral students? Well, in that case, you would also be talking about time to degree. Having been a doctoral student myself for six years, I can tell you that was a very long six years. Had it been gone to seven or eight, I would have been more upset. [chuckle]

0:15:10.2 EV: So pushing the time shorter for doctoral programs is essential, because that’s an engagement strategy and also ensures that the students actually finish. Point being, is that there’s a wide range of what success means in the grad space, and we should acknowledge that going in. In a lot of ways, it’s like having multiple different flavors of different kinds of undergraduate colleges all within the same university, all with their own success profile.

0:15:35.8 EV: So that all said, when we’re talking about graduate students, we’re most often talking about Master’s students in a lot of cases at most schools. I already said it before, they seem to function a lot like undergrads in the sense of we want them to get done and we want them to get done in a timely manner. We want them to get done in a timely manner, and with a minimal amount of debt. And then obviously some career outcome on the other end of that, would be nice too.

0:15:57.8 EV: So you’ve got these more standard level kind of concepts around success that are very familiar if you’ve been studying this in the undergrad space. Before I move on to the second bit, which is the state of practice, I’m wondering if you had any reactions to that, or whether or not that fits the same or different with your own experiences talking to the same sort of folks?

0:16:17.1 AL: Yeah Ed, I think you hit the nail on the head. The only thing I might add is, in part back to one of the things we both talked about early on in this conversation, which is, it really behooves institutions to be very clear about how their population is shifting. Because up until about the last five or 10 years, like you said, graduate schools and professional schools have operated very similarly to how they’ve always operated, and they’ve been able to do that, and that’s for a number of reasons.

0:16:44.2 AL: But I just wanna put a fine point on the fact that as populations continue to shift, how schools think about success absolutely has to flow in line with that, right? So institutions that perhaps haven’t thought previously about what they consider to be auxiliary services, are all the more important now.

0:17:03.1 AL: So some of the same services that you might provide undergraduate students are equally now increasingly important on the graduate level, and some of those are more social in nature, ranging from support networks for parents, access to basic needs, in some cases, assistance with thinking about funding in a very different way. With, of course, like Ed said, thinking about outcomes at the forefront, because students are.

0:17:27.3 AL: And so I think it’s not just a matter of being aware of it, but then thinking about it within the context of the students that you not only serve today, but the students that you will undoubtedly and also hope to serve in the future, and kind of building an infrastructure around that.

0:17:42.8 EV: Yeah, and let’s talk a little bit about that infrastructure. When I have talked to schools about where their aspirations for graduate student success are headed, I most often get directed to offices that are using Navigate, which is our success management system, mostly deployed for undergraduates, but increasingly in the graduate space as well, and we heard about plenty of advising offices and other student support offices, you mentioned auxiliary services, that were starting to use Navigate to support graduate students.

0:18:17.1 EV: We knew this because they were asking us to load grad students into the platform, which was not something that we had set out to do. They wanted to do that, so we naturally wanted to know why. And it was a very simple answer, “Hey, I’m a Financial Aid office, I serve undergrads, I start grad students, why would I use one system for one group of students and then completely ignore that system for another set of students? Hey, that makes perfect sense.”

0:18:38.3 EV: And I kept hearing the same story over and over again. And I realized pretty quickly that this was all coming bottoms up, these were folks on the ground running offices or working directly face-to-face with students, that wanted to use the same assets they had available to them for undergrads for their graduate students. It made a lot of sense, why wouldn’t they?

0:18:55.9 EV: Where it wasn’t coming from was top down. There really wasn’t any kind of… We only have a very small handful of schools, we’ll talk about them in a moment, who have any kind of really robust graduate student success program that would be on par with what they’re doing for undergrads. Just wasn’t seen, it coming from the dean or from the provost or whoever, the president, whoever it might be, didn’t seem to a top-down initiative. It was, like I said, the other way. It was very grassroots.

0:19:21.1 EV: And Amy, what was interested about this and very… It felt very similar to when I started doing this work about 15 years ago, what the state of affairs was with undergrad student success practices, we had a lot of really well-meaning folks on the ground trying to do some innovative things with students, and rarely was that making its way up to the cabinet and being addressed in a strategic way.

0:19:42.6 EV: Of course, that seems completely foreign to us now, can’t imagine a school that doesn’t have at least some conversations about student success at the cabinet level, and at most schools, you actually have cabinet-level people that are now owning this problem. It’s not the case in the graduate space.

0:19:56.6 EV: So there’s that. It’s sort of a moment, and maybe this fits with our theme earlier of, well it’s coming in the future, where just grad school is just a few years delayed off of undergrad, and I can see that too. But it’s that sort of underlying observation that it felt very similar to what I experienced years ago, learning about the undergrad problem. I don’t know if you felt the same, or heard similar stuff?

0:20:20.9 AL: Yeah, I definitely think it’s similar. I think that the graduate professional world is the tail, or follows the tail, if you will, of undergraduate behaviors as the university, as academia changes. And so I think it makes a lot of sense that we are where we are right now. Now, Ed, I know that you wanna take us to the second point that you had about success and kinda what that looks like. What are your thoughts on that?

0:20:47.3 EV: Well, that was actually the bit I was saying about support structures, but maybe we can turn to the third point, which is about…

0:20:53.6 AL: Great, yeah.

0:20:57.4 EV: This was maybe the most interesting, ’cause man, people obsess about undergraduate student success data. And maybe rightly so, because it is a rallying point for many institutions to wanna get, “We wanna get one more percent back.” During the pandemic school scene, a point or two shaved off of that was a real heartbreaker for them.

0:21:17.7 EV: It matters not just for the financial side of things, but also these are real people, like there’s a morality associated with this, and of course we’re educators, we care about these students, we want them to do well, so that really hurts. And so people really, really dawdling on those numbers.

0:21:32.9 EV: Then I talked to the graduate school, and what I found was not as much activity there, hardly any at all. Most schools I talked to were not able to quote what their Master’s degree retention number was. Across an institution, within a college, nothing like that. Some of the other statistics I quoted before, if they happened to be focused on them, they could tell me time to degree for doctoral students, for example.

0:22:00.1 EV: Obviously, the law schools know their bar passage rate because that’s an accreditation issue for them. But I just found that there was just very, very little information out there on how well the school is doing. They could all quote me how big their incoming class was, because that was the numbers that they focused on.

0:22:16.2 EV: So then we started asking why this isn’t happening, and with a lot of things around data metrics and accountability, it boils down to availability of data and then are you actually looking at it? And I asked folks, well, who had actually been able to put together a retention number for our program or a college, “How hard was it for you to get this information?”

0:22:35.4 EV: And it was extremely hard. They had to go to the IR director or the registrar, or an equivalent, and then there was a several months wait. [chuckle] Perhaps because those folks are always super busy, and oftentimes have to pull together and clean information from various data systems across campuses. It’s very difficult to then to get their hands on.

0:22:56.0 EV: Also the folks asking for it, let’s just be honest, they’re a little bit lower on the hierarchy. They’re not gonna be the top priority. If the president of the department is coming around and asking for a data point, IR is probably going to respond them first. Because that is the nature of the world. So it was difficult to get the data.

0:23:16.0 EV: When they had it, it was difficult for anybody to look at it. They were sort of sharing it with their leadership, but it wasn’t a top agenda item for most schools in this way. It just wasn’t something they were looking at. Again, vis-a-vis the recruitment numbers, which they were obsessed about. So it just felt like it wasn’t something they were talking much about at all.

0:23:33.9 AL: Yeah, and I think, like we talked about it for a number of reasons. Graduate student retention is just not the squeaky wheel, it hasn’t been historically. The squeaky wheel is, like you said, for a very understandable series of reasons, more on the front end. Especially when you think about undergraduates and in many cases, how they comprised the bulk of an institution’s population.

0:24:00.4 AL: But I think too, there are a number of things, the landscape data that shifted so quickly is certainly not often front of mind for the university leadership that I speak to on a pretty regular basis, and I’m guessing you too, Ed. It really is a matter of us being in a position to be able to say, “Gosh, here we have this information, and here’s how quickly it’s changed.”

0:24:20.6 AL: I think so often folks are really grateful to have that, because there is this assumption in many cases that things are relatively similar to when they experienced a graduate education. And that’s just not the case. So I think that as we think about building out this infrastructure to start students and keep them, it’s not just about, like you said, sort of boots on the ground, folks beating a drum and saying, “Hey, I’m seeing this, I really need help with this.”

0:24:49.2 AL: It’s also about being able to equip university leadership with information that we have from the market, from a series of data sources to point to how they might build out ways in which to really track this better, and efforts to better serve students, and then ultimately of course, have them graduate.

0:25:09.1 AL: I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. Like I said, it’s not just a squeaky wheel piece. Obviously, I think there is sort of this historical practice of, that’s very much rooted in a homogenous sort of privileged group of people who would go to graduate and professional school, and that’s changed a lot too, right? So we can’t not talk about that.

0:25:30.6 AL: And I think that just again, saying, “Gosh, this has changed and here’s what we have to do about it,” is really the foundation for then doing that planning, doing that data gathering. And what we said about other common obstacles that we might see as folks are starting to think about this more and potentially thinking about how they can really change things.

0:25:53.3 EV: Yeah, I think let’s look a little bit to the future, ’cause we’ve talked quite a bit about how the current state of affairs is not a whole lot, and why that might be. Kinda sit in a situation where we have lots of students, lots of demand. The pandemic has seen a little uptick in graduate enrollment that probably is a little bit of the pandemic, and a little bit about what was going on, again, with the size of people who want to demand a graduate education.

0:26:21.4 EV: So maybe not a top issue for schools in summer 2021, but what about in two, three, four years when they start to see these demographic declines? Or program start to shutter because they have declining enrollments or whatever it might be, what are we gonna see then? Well, we’ve got to I think do three things.

0:26:43.2 EV: We’ve got to get graduate school leaders thinking and making this an enrollment item for them. It has to part of their strategy, just like it is for undergrads. We’re gonna bring them in, what are we doing to serve them, because we have a responsibility to do that. And then, how do we know that we’re doing a good job bringing them to completion?

0:27:01.2 EV: They really have to look at a lot of the data there, to meld those two things together, and the good news is that they can look at their undergrad colleagues for some tips and tricks on how to do that, because again, this has already been worked out a lot in the undergraduate space.

0:27:14.8 EV: Two is the data, you’re gonna need better data systems. The reporting for undergraduate student success is now routine in the sense that it is a required report that you have to send to NCES every year to put in iPads and tracked and all those sort of things. So it’s something that everybody knows to do. And of course, the structures are built for it.

0:27:36.0 EV: Not necessarily the case in the graduate space. If you thinking about, “Where do I even get the information to review? Do I need to make an investment in data systems?” It’s really basic stuff. Now we’re talking about the CIO’s territory, and looking to pull together more elaborate and sophisticated and easier to use data sets from across the campuses, something EAB is thinking a lot about right now, others are as well. So initially being able to pull that together and then creating the occasions where you pull it and review it.

0:28:04.8 EV: And then the third thing is, okay, now you looked at the data, what are you gonna do about it? Because you already alluded to it, the who the students are is not necessarily who you think they are, and who they are now may not be who they are in the future. Increasingly diverse classes in every kind of shape or form of that word, “diverse”, and they’re gonna require a different kind of support. So what are you gonna do about that?

0:28:25.4 EV: And here’s, we can point to a couple of examples of where some of the early movers are in the space, and what I wanna call it is National Louis University. National Louis is based in Chicago, but they are a bit of an unusual school. They were previously the second two of two plus two program, so they were essentially the third and fourth year of college, and they also have an extensive graduate program. A lot of it’s online. So in a lot of ways, they have always been the sort of school that many of you in the audience are becoming, going forward.

0:28:56.0 EV: Now of course, they’ve expanded their undergraduate to be all four years right now, but they kept a lot of their soul from what they were doing before where they were serving this more adult, more working, more online style student. What are they doing for these students? Well, every undergrad and now every Master’s student gets really elaborate support, they actually get three different… I’m probably gonna miss this stuff a little bit, so apologies to National Louis if I don’t get all the exact details correct. It’s a very cool program now.

0:29:22.3 EV: Every student gets kind of a team of an advisor, a faculty member and a career counselor or coach, to guide their success through the degree program. And it works very well in the undergraduate space. They’re gonna do the… And they are rolling out the exact same thing for graduate states. There’s a huge basis of technology underneath it, but it’s essentially a support structure that is modeled off… It was already very much working for them in undergrad space, now applied to their big Master’s programs.

0:29:46.3 EV: So this isn’t necessarily all that terribly complicated, this could be taking something you already know works for your undergraduate students and expanding it. Requires some investment, but hopefully it’s one of those ones that pays for itself in terms of the recruit tuition revenue.

0:30:01.1 EV: So you don’t have to look very far necessarily, or come up with something crazy new and innovative, it might be doing more of the same for a greater population of students. I’ll tell you, just given the state of affairs, doing anything at all is better than where most schools are at right now, which is not doing a heck of a lot. So maybe don’t be so intimidated by this, but instead, be expanding what you have to roll out.

0:30:28.1 AL: Yup, I agree with you, Ed, and I think that those are really actionable takeaway steps that leadership can use as they begin to think about this in more detail. So thinking about, if I could kind of wave my magic wand and think about the future, I would say, first, make sure that you really equip yourself with an understanding of what’s happening from a landscape perspective.

0:30:50.0 AL: Two, do study or reach out to us to ask about where do we see best practices and what are students responding to, and how are universities accommodating these shifts in their practices. And then finally, what mechanisms exist, like some of the ones you mentioned that we offer, that help institutions manage some of these changes and make sure that we keep those students tracking towards graduation.

0:31:10.9 AL: So I think kinda future casting, those are the things that I would suggest people do now, if they haven’t already, to bolster the strength of their institution and then kind of have a forward eye to how they can continue to be nimble in their approaches as things continue to shift in the broader landscape over time.

0:31:29.0 EV: I’ll just add, please do check back with us. This is an active area of active inquiry for us right now, both you and I are trying to learn much more about this. Of course and so are some of our partners. We’re learning as we go on this one as well, just like everybody else. So keep up with EAB as we think more about graduate students over the next few months and years, to understand what our position is on that, and of course, if you’d like to know more, reach out to us. We wanna talk to you.

0:31:57.1 EV: This is a very exciting and new avenue right now, so lots of interesting new conversations to have, and we’re happy to help get anybody up to speed who might need to know a little bit more. Hopefully you got a little bit today, and of course we can offer tons of stuff on, or just reach out to us. With that, Amy, I think that’s probably a natural wrap up point. Don’t you?

0:32:19.7 AL: Absolutely. It was great to talk to you about this today.

0:32:22.4 EV: Yeah, you too. Hope to see you again in the office at some point soon coming up. So I think it’s gonna be the case for a lot of us. Alright.


0:32:41.9 Speaker 1: Thank you for listening. Please join us next week as we examine the biggest challenges and opportunities Financial Aid offices face as they prepare for the Department of Education to implement the FAFSA Simplification Act. Until then, thank you for your time.


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