In early 2016, administrators at MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative partnered with Haven Insights to enhance their approach to applicant recruitment and student engagement. After 10 years of existence, the Initiative’s alumni base had grown large enough to provide a robust sample for detailed survey data, whereby graduates were asked about their experience in the program and how they think the Initiative can improve.
Established in 2006, MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative (MSSI) is a six-course Master’s program that possesses a unique blend of business and natural resource coursework. Its purpose: to create leaders and innovative thinkers to tackle the world’s sustainability challenges. To accomplish this, the Sustainability Initiative labors to attract the best graduate students from around the world.
To attract ideal candidates and maintain valuable relationships with its graduates, MIT Sloan opted to revitalize its administrative work. So, its administrators crafted a survey and partnered with Haven Insights to answer the following questions:
- What were the determining factors for students in choosing MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative?
- Who were MIT Sloan’s greatest competitors for prospective students?
- What elements of MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative was of greatest value to its graduates?
- What effect did the education at MIT Sloan have on students’ involvement in Sustainability post-graduation?
After consulting with the Sloan Initiative’s administrative team, Haven Insights connected with hundreds of alumni via an online survey to answer these research questions. Once sufficient data had been collected, they applied standard survey data cleaning procedures to identify statistical outliers, cross-examine variables to remove inconsistencies, and remedy incorrect and missing values. This narrowed the data sample to include only high-quality feedback–a final sample of almost 100 detailed responses.
At this point, Haven Insights performed a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis using the final, cleaned data set. The SWOT’s results shed light on both internal and external factors affecting the Initiative’s enrollment and graduate satisfaction. The tabulated data was then cross-examined to identify areas of improvement for MIT Sloan’s administrators, based both on Haven’s “unaided” analysis of the raw data alone, as well as “guided” analysis driven by Initiative directors and others with unique insights and hypotheses about how this data should be understood in context.
In August of 2016, Haven Insights presented Initiative administrators with key findings and overall statistics. Among the takeaways were two major findings: The Initiative was under-utilizing some of its strongest resources in marketing their program, and its students, while highly-satisfied, were graduating from the program with some unfulfilled expectations.
Since the report’s final submission, many of the project’s highlights have begun to manifest themselves through enhancements to the Initiative’s programming:
- MIT Sloan added detailed biographies for each of their professors on the Sustainability Initiative website. (58% graduates considered “Faculty and Staff” as the highlight of their Sloan experience, but the effects of “Faculty and Staff” on students’ decisions to attend MIT Sloan were negligible in the survey data.)
- In 2017, MIT Sloan plans to collaborate with the Hitachi Foundation to launch a Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative for their Sustainability program.
- In 2017, Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative plans to deepen existing corporate relationships and cultivate collaboration with companies who can offer S-lab projects, internships, and jobs. (Only 1% of survey responses indicated that career support was one of the highlights of the program. However, 17% indicated that career support ranked as one of their top-three reasons for choosing MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative).
“The report [Haven Insights] did for us was really appreciated, and we’ve heard multiple times what a great job [they] did,” said Lea Rutledge, Principal at Rutledge Advisors and adviser to MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative. “We will certainly come to [them] again in the future if needed, and pass their name along to others at MIT.”
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