Recruiting has always been an enormous focus for colleges.
Now, more than ever, administrations are leaning on faculty to assist in those efforts.
We recently spoke with Ryan Bebej, Assistant Professor of Biology at Calvin College, about the role that faculty play when it comes to the recruitment process of students—what it is, what it could be, and what it definitely shouldn’t be.
Here’s what we learned.
Recruiting Endeavors for Faculty
From the beginning, Ryan understood that recruiting would be a part of his job when he became a professor, though his assumptions were different from the expectations of his college.
He anticipated that his commitment would be basic, meeting with visiting students, assisting with hosted university lunches, and so on.
Within the first year as a faculty member, Ryan was provided a call sheet. These sheets had prospective student information, and faculty were asked to make contact either by email or a phone call. Sometimes a group of both students and faculty would gather for a few hours to see how many people they could reach out to in one stretch.
The college has shied away from this practice in recent years, but not completely.
“I’m still pretty routinely asked to contact students that I’ve met with,” Ryan said, “by sending out emails to them and trying to keep them in the loop as we figure out if they’re still considering Calvin or not.”
Faculty Are Natural Brand Builders
Most professors are driven by the love of teaching and naturally share their experiences.
In Ryan’s case, he shares what he enjoys about being at Calvin College. This authentic dialogue between prospective students and faculty is integral in helping the former make a decision on where to continue their education.
Although sharing comes naturally to Ryan, he often wonders if he’s saying the wrong things to parents and prospective students. He doesn’t want to come across as a salesman, yet he understands where schools are coming from.
“Calvin needs a steady enrollment to bring in the tuition revenue,” he explained. “I also don’t just want to bring in students to fill seats.”
Recruiting is Everyone’s Job
All higher education institutions have natural brand ambassadors.
When faculty members are at a conference, posting on social media, or publishing a paper, these professional activities provide opportunities for recruiting.
More and more it seems that recruiting is not falling in the laps of enrollment or marketing departments alone. And most professors are OK with this.
Sharing on social media is a great example. Faculty are naturally doing it; sharing their story is something that is already enjoyable to many of them.
Advice to New Faculty Being Asked to Recruit
Onboarding can be overwhelming for new faculty, especially when they’re asked to help out with recruitment.
The solution goes back to passion. Talking authentically about your program and the types of opportunities students will have is the best way to fulfill your recruitment role.
“It’s important for us to be able to share our information with students to help them determine if it’s a good fit,” Ryan said.
Administrators should be proactive in asking faculty to participate in recruiting activities that leverage their knowledge base. Consideration should be taken to limit the types of activities that a staff member could easily take care of.
The world of recruiting has changed, and higher education is no exception.
Institutions are in a unique position to utilize their faculty professors to assist in elevating both their brand and recruiting efforts. By promoting the sharing of stories through the natural interaction between teachers and students, schools are sure to see a rise in enrollment.
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