MBA blog

Innovative Solutions For MBA Schools To Save Money On Recruiting Students

Five thousand dollars is median cost for a business school per one representative at an international MBA fair.


In the year when digital technologies are key maintainers of human engagement, 74% of b-schools stick to on-site representative presence at an education fair. Expectation is: at least a couple of attendees met at MBA fair will eventually be admitted to their program. However, the cost of connecting to one candidate is tremendously higher than other outreach tools.

Apparently, student interaction and information consuming habits has also changed: 64% attendees aged 19-28 reported more long-lasting memorable impression from interacting online, with mixed or augmented reality at exhibitions and fairs rather than person-to-person. Today students select a source of information themselves, oftentimes choosing different channels than those schools invested money and time in. Students now select from wider range of schools, and it pushes recruiting ROI down for business schools. Understand their choice is a key step for reducing costs on recruiting stage.

Overview of solutions

Growth of Instagram, Facebook News Feed restructured information consuming habits. The higher frequency of a brand appearing for a person, the higher the chance of being memorable and engaged with. It is the age of short-term but frequent and stimulating interactions. Strategy of leveraging multi channel presence is vital nowadays. “In this day and age, handing out a piece of paper isn’t effective,”states Kirk Robles, assistant director of marketing and business development for UC Berkeley Recreational Sports Marketing Group. With new digital tools, attention of students shifts dramatically, and it’s easy to lose the track of engagement, when a student has so many channels of information from other universities. Studies showed 28% of americans, usually of younger age and with higher income, consider themselves as a strong new technology adopters and being engaged with a technology of tomorrow they can be your viva voce in multichannel marketing plan.

Webinars and Polychannel Social Media Presence

Besides a record breaking application round for 2021 in Harvard of 39,494 applications, HBS has also got a new maximum attendees at a webinar getting 11,971 registrants for the online stream. The key? Catching title of the webinar “Get Accepted To Harvard Business School”, as well as booming popularity of CS50 YouTube computer science class prepared by Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The course stimulated international demand for their computer science degree and resulted in 22.1% increase in applications.

The growth of new social media tools (Instagram, Snapchat, allows to funnel more people to webinars and university Q&A sessions. Making short on-campus streams, in-class insights, and student life showcases can attract prospective audience and make them feel engaged with the university life. These streams may be done even with students themselves, who can act as ambassadors of faculties, also creating awareness about upcoming info sessions during their streams.

Doing frequent Facebook lives is another channel to host webinar sessions for prospective applicants, or share additional updates in more informal and personalized manner. Snapchat is another key platform where millennials and generation Z spend time. 45% of the audience is aged 18-24, and 77% of college students interact at Snapchat on a daily basis. The outreach should be done in advance to build relationship with this audience and leveraging the platform to recruit prospective students may become essential at every step of the admissions process.

Virtual Tours

From the early adopters Yale University and Audencia Nantes today virtual campus tours were built by more than 600 business schools. YouVisit, one of the pioneer providers of virtual tours for universities emphasized that: “Students who experience a virtual campus tour are nearly twice as likely to enroll to those who haven’t. Plus, they’ve helped schools boost yield rates by up to 28 percent.”  Chad Eickhoff, Northern Arizona’s director of recruitment and orientation, says more than 4,000 students who accessed the virtual tour either gave the university their contact information, scheduled a campus visit or applied for admission.

Christopher Wright, dean of admission and enrollment management of Massachusetts College of Art and Design sums up: “Having a virtual representation has helped increase deposits. Having the ability for students to immerse themselves contributed to their making an informed decision. We’ll continue to use our YouVisit virtual experience to its fullest advantage.”

Eventually, MassArt observed a 12% YoY decrease in their overall tuition discount, which the school attributes to YouVisit and other marketing efforts.

  1. 10m+ Visitors engaged 2x longer on the virtual experience (compared to the school’s average website visit). Conversion rate was 25%.

  2. 60% Applications growth. MassArt received a record number of applications for the fall 2017 enrollment year.

  3. 25% in-state enrollment increase. The school earned a 53% in-state yield, adding to MassArt's largest and most diverse incoming class. 66% of the incoming class were MA residents.

For some the ability to visit campus virtually plays vital role in making their decision when choosing between schools. Han Jin from University of California remarked on the experience of being able to observe the campus and his decision to enroll: “You can do a lot of research online and be very excited about a school, but the feeling is so different when you are there. When you’re walking around, you get the atmosphere, the people, the whole environment,”.  Overall building a virtual tour can become a significant long-term interactive asset for your school


In a study by Allegis, 58% of applicants were open to communication with AI and enrollment chatbots in the beginning of their application procedure. A higher rate – 66% – were also comfortable with AI and chatbots making preparations and scheduling. Randstad shows 82% of applicants consider an ideal interaction with recruiter is the one which combines innovation in communication and personal interaction. The loyalty to chatbots grows eventually bringing chatbots as a meaningful tool to automate tasks like information delivery and scheduling, reducing costs and decluttering workflow of a faculty administration. Top-of-funnel recruitment tasks can be automated up to 80% utilizing chatbots. The tool saves up to 45% of administrative time and money on screening out unqualified student leads, spreading out essential information like deadlines, specifics of application, and status updates.

Virtual Reality

Insights from hardware industry indicate virtual telepresence to reduce $300 billion that U.S. companies spend on travelling every year. Around 1 million VR headsets sell every three months globally, which make it cheaper with the time and attract more users all around. For now this tech is still unusual to interact with, attracting attention and leaving long-lasting impression after a use. For instance Facebook which revealed Spaces, a virtual reality platform for headsets Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. This platform completely brings each participant to a virtual environment, where each has their own avatar to interact with others. Facebook Spaces is a enormous move to virtual interaction, an evolution of telepresence ideas, and Virtual Reality Consumer Report showed 88% Oculus Rift owners are looking forward to use social VR in their lives.

Virtual Robots

Travelling to an MBA fair is always time and money consuming event which consumes up to 3 days of worth of productivity. Today traveling in person to see prospective students is becoming redundant with increase of remote robotic services. A telepresence robot is one of key solutions nowadays, providing a moving body with a video conferencing screen at the top of the device. For more than 3 years these solutions are used at MIT Sloan School of Management Office of Executive Education supplementing internal flex work policy. ButMost of telepresence robot companies (like BeamPro or TechnologyOne) allow to rent a robot on a daily basis with shipping for an education fair and allow representatives stay on campus at the same time moving the robot across a venue and networking with attendees.


Companies, which several years ago invested into becoming early adopters of a VR, telecom, and AI technologies and built a marketing strategy around will enjoy exponential results from it’s recent boost. Being a pioneer-innovator is hard and risky, however utilizing new technologies in marketing strategies will pay off with substantial engagement. Being memorable is easier now with the virtual robots, telepresence and virtual campus tours, moreover it saves travel costs and reduces inefficiency of outbound marketing strategies in a long run, attracting way more people organically. Apparently, to get the best results from implementing cost effective recruitment marketing strategy a school should diversify utilized solutions for multichannel outreach. Novelty of a technology plays its role as well, oftentimes capable to get more attention and interaction because of new experiences.

For the last 10 years MBA25 facilitated admissions between top universities prospective mid-career and experts from a wide range of industries. Being in a constant contact with university representatives and education marketers, our team of analysts constantly study technological trends and innovations which allow the highest engagement with applicants and talents.

Andrii Gorbenko is a senior education analyst, journalist, and writer at MBA25. For the last 3 years Andrii was consulting prospective entry and mid-career professionals  applying to top universities around the world. These days he focuses on trends analysis, data, and challenges top schools meet during the enrollment rounds. MBA25 connects the world`s best business schools with high-caliber candidates and organizes boutique MBA events in the USA and Europe . Only TOP schools. Only TOP candidates.


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