Prospective Student Mindsets

Understanding the Prospective Student Mindsets

Eduventures Prospective Student Mindsets are derived from our Prospective Student Research and identify the dreams and desires prospective students have for their upcoming undergraduate education. Institutions can use them to enliven both recruiting and the student experience. The following provides some critical direction for enrollment professionals to inform their practice to better recruit and engage students using messaging that will resonate with their Mindset. 

The Mindsets Defined and How to Work with Them

Experiential Interest

These students desire a career and want to get hands on with internships and employment. They are also highly sensitive to affordability.

The Opening Conversation
  • Speak to experiential learning opportunities that lead to career-focused outcomes
  • They will appreciate clearly laid out programs and degree plans
  • Remember that they are highly sensitive to affordability 
Potential Blind Spots
  • They consider academic coursework secondary 
  • They aren’t paying much attention to the social aspects of college
  • Work to heighten their understanding of the importance academic and social to success in college
Opportunities for Support
  • They may run into trouble if they find themselves off their intended program path
  • Help conscientious, but closed, students negotiate to another path if this arises

Social Focus

These students want to gain meaningful friendships (and a job would be nice too!). They want to engage in every connecting activity possible and the social environment is most critical to choice.

The Opening Conversation
  • Showcase the defining aspects of your social environment
  • Show how they can create lasting friendships 
  • Support connections and social facility that drive success in the workplace
Potential Blind Spots
  • They think they will get a good job after graduation almost by osmosis
  • They aren’t very concerned about academics and career preparation 
  • Instill an understanding of the importance of these key factors in success
Opportunities for Support
  • Recognize a lesser degree of emotional stability and conscientiousness
  • They may need more help getting on track with an academic and career plan 
  • If social transition goes south, they are at high risk

Career Through Academics

These students are looking for a long-term career and see strong academics integrated with career preparation as the path. They are level-headed decision-makers.

The Opening Conversation
  • All the major experiences of a college bear on their eventual outcome
  • Show a direct connection between major and career
  • Demonstrate an integrated experience of academics, career, and social interaction
Potential Blind Spots
  • They are so focused on ultimate goal, that they might miss out on serendipitous learning 
  • Show them that these experiences are not necessarily distractions, but can enrich, and enhanc
Opportunities for Support
  • Connect academic program strongly to their career goals
  • If plans aren’t working out, they’ll need help finding a new focus

Career Pragmatists

These students are looking for immediate ROI. They are highly sensitive to affordability, and are looking for the job right away. They are not necessarily focused on career.

The Opening Conversation
  • Demonstrate an immediate return on investment 
  • They want an affordable education in a supportive community setting that leads to an immediate job
  • They may need a flexible program to accommodate a need to work
Potential Blind Spots
  • They may overlook the importance of academics
  • They don’t need to hear about rigor or prestige
  • Educate them on the contribution of academic experiences to their career
Opportunities for Support
  • Work and affordability issues could sidetrack them
  • Introduce long-term benefits to career beyond the all-important first job  
  • Provide strong academic advising
  • Provide career advising to get the most out of their work experience

Exploration and Meaning

These students want to make an impact on the world and are wide open to liberal arts outcomes. They are global butterflies and could make an impassioned choice

The Opening Conversation
  • Opportunities should be designed to help students make a personal impact on the world 
  • Study abroad and global options will have great appeal
  • They are looking for traditional liberal arts outcomes
Potential Blind Spots
  • They give unrealistic attention to career outcomes. 
  • Affordability is not top of mind
  • They are at risk of making an impassioned choice without considering ROI
Opportunities for Support
  • Coach them to direct their attention to making an impact on themselves
  • Provide career advising that balances reality with exploration and opportunity
  • Take their open, searching personality into account

Grad School Bound

For these students, graduate or professional school is the goal. Scientific and technical skills and undergraduate research are key experiences, and academic quality and academic environment drive choice.

The Opening Conversation
  • Show that your institution has the academics/research rigor that will land them in the graduate school of their choice
  • Show evidence of successful graduate school placements 
  • Demonstrate opportunities to build research skills under the guidance of faculty
Potential Blind Spots
  • They often don’t factor affordability into the equation early on
  • There is a potential impact of student loans on their future plans for graduate school
  • They have less engagement with the wider opportunities of undergraduate education
Opportunities for Support
  • Map out academic, research, and internship experiences that build grad opportunities 
  • May eschew other important experiences and risk isolation or burnout as a result
  • Help them understand how a more well-rounded experience will benefit them

Find Out More About Our Prospective Student Research

The full Prospective Student Research Report provides more insight and detail about how to effectively engage students in each Mindset, and participation in the Prospective Student Research delivers results specific to your institution!

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