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Graduate students in the U.S. currently number 2.9 million, a figure projected to grow 12 percent by the year 2026. The reasons are clear.

As companies place greater value on diversity, minority student enrollment has increased by 23.9 percent in recent years. The growth of online courses and new and relevant educational programs focused on certificates geared towards careers of the future are also fueling the boom.

At the same time, however, challenges exist for the nation’s institutions of higher education.

Rising student debt is deterring some potential candidates from pursuing graduate degrees. Schools that favor students who can pay the full sticker price of an education also are slowing enrollment. And with the rising cost of tuition, many employers are no longer eager to foot the bill for a worker’s grad school degree.

Yet opportunities for growth also exist, especially when combined with marketing programs that link the student decision-making process to employment outcomes.

Effective marketing today demands that the traditional strategies — on-campus events, lead generation and targeted recruitment, the promotion of relevant new courses and programs — be implemented through integrated messaging across four, main multiple channels:

  • Owned media — school websites, newspapers and campaigns.
  • Shared media —social websites and message boards.
  • Earned media — press releases and coverage in articles and college rankings.
  • Paid media — print, digital, direct mail and broadcast marketing.

Perhaps what can best facilitate this approach is partnering with an established media company like Tribune Publishing Co. In what amounts to a case study of a highly effective marketing campaign, Loyola University partnered with the company’s Studio 1847 division to achieve a number of objectives:

  • Inform consumers of the advantages of continuing their educations in grad school.
  • Create content strategies that inspire consumers to invest in themselves.
  • Engage the university’s targeted audience at multiple touch points to convert them to enrolled students.

The end result was overwhelmingly positive: The Chicago Tribune’s “Return to Glory” campaign for Loyola resulted in 3.8 million print and digital impressions that reached 2.8 million Chicagoans in just five days.