Stephen Taylor
You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Scoring GME Applicants



If there’s been one lesson learned over the past decade, it’s that graduate management admissions offices need to adapt more quickly than ever to remain competitive. Since 2011, there’s been an 8% decline in applications to traditional two-year, full-time business programs — the bread and butter of many graduate management programs. More worrisome, the percentage of full-time MBAs enrolled outside the top 50 business schools dropped from 31% to 22% during that time, and applications fell from 17% to 11% as reported in a recent Forbes article. While a decline in international applicants has had a significant impact on programs, domestic demand has been dampened as well given a strong economy and questions about the cost vs. value of an MBA. Even online, flex-time and specialty MBA programs haven’t been immune to this downturn. As such, graduate management programs need to spend more time wooing prospects and making the application process as smooth as possible to increase their odds of attracting candidates and converting them into enrolled students.

With everyone fighting over a shrinking pie, admissions offices have turned to technology to give them an edge in identifying prospects, targeting communications, processing applications and analyzing performance data. But what seemed like a panacea has, in many cases, turned into a Pandora’s Box. Front and back-end systems that don’t work well together, in-house systems that are out of date and the time and cost associated with updates are handicapping the ability to compete.

Work smarter, not harder

Rather than continue on the technology treadmill, a growing number of graduate management schools have turned to Liaison’s BusinessCAS™, a  web-based application portal that benefits applicants and admissions staff alike. Applicants gain access to a familiar application experience much like they used for undergraduate admissions and can access real-time status updates. Schools benefit from reduced application processing time due to automated workflow capabilities, digital storage and on-demand access to application materials tracked per candidate, online scheduling of interviews and the ability to set standardized scoring rubrics to evaluate candidates, among other features. BusinessCAS also offers marketing and communications tools to broaden exposure to prospects and send targeted messages based on prospect and applicant interests and phase in the application process. For example, business schools can highlight scholarship opportunities to candidates who express a desire or need.

Since BusinessCAS launched in early 2018, many schools have already signed onto the platform. Kelly Holmes, dean of graduate admissions at Marist College and an early adopter of BusinessCAS, asserts, “There’s great long-term potential in moving away from a home-grown system to a web-based platform. Not only does it streamline processes, but it also increases our exposure to potential students who may otherwise not know Marist exists!”

Loubna Bouamane, director of Admissions at University of Miami Business School concurs: “We saw BusinessCAS as an opportunity to improve our procedures and a way to make the admissions process as seamless as possible. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was the right time to jump in.” Dee Steinle, executive director of MBA and MSB programs at the University of Kansas School of Business states that they’ve experienced a 50% increase in applications since moving to the BusinessCAS platform.

Implementation of BusinessCAS is comparatively easy as it is SaaS-based and compatible with most existing CRM, ERP and/or SIS systems.  “From the very beginning, we’ve had all the support we could possibly need from Liaison,” states Bouamane.

Leveraging our expertise to meet your goals

Liaison has dedicated more than two decades to developing admissions solutions and services customized for over 35 professional associations and educational organizations. Professional graduate schools that have implemented CASs for programs such as engineering and health sciences have reported a reduction in the application review process from 8 days to 1.5 days and a 69% decrease in time to make admissions decisions. Temple University reports that since implementing a CAS, their admissions office has seen a 50% reduction in manual tasks and a 4% increase in out of state applications.

To create BusinessCAS, Liaison worked closely with multiple constituents within the graduate management education space for input and guidance. Today, BusinessCAS is endorsed by AMBA (Association of MBAs).  In Liaison’s latest collaboration with GMAC, the Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR) was integrated with BusinessCAS platform.

“I don’t see any other companies out there that can do what Liaison does. There are a lot of moving parts that I need to manage and BusinessCAS will help me do that,” concludes Marist’s Holmes.

If you’re planning to attend the GMAC Annual Conference June 19th – 21st, stop by Liaison’s table to learn more about how BusinessCAS can make your admissions process more efficient while broadening your marketing reach.


Forbes, The ‘Flight to Quality’ In the MBA Market, February 17, 2019

Stephen Taylor

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