On a lark, I used the analytic function on my WordPress blog to find out which of my 66 blog post had been accessed most frequently. For those loyal readers out there, you know that my blog is full of wonderful information and every single blog post is as compelling as the next. Right? But, what do you think I found when I looked at the analytics? Were readers captivated by my thoughts about NACAC? JC Penny? Contemporary admissions? Application strategies?
The analytics are clear. The blog post that has been accessed the most is a post I did related to involving faculty in recruitment. “Best practices for departmental/faculty involvement in student recruitment” has been view 653 times and enjoys more than 10% of the total views of @bowtieadmission. While this is an interesting tid-bit of information, what is even more interesting is a review of the search terms that bring someone to that particular blog post.
Along with cool terms like “kent barnds, kent barnds blog and bowtieadmission,” the following terms are among the top terms people have typed into Google or another search engine to found their way to this particular post:
“Faculty involvement in student recruitment”
“Faculty involved in student recruitment”
“Faculty in recruitment”
“Involving faculty in student recruitment”
“Using faculty in recruitment”
I get it, 653 views is not earth shattering; It’s pretty modest I suppose if one thinks about all of the information available. But, the relative popularity of the post combined with the search terms does suggest there is genuine interest in this topic.
I have a theory of why this is. As a professional in college admissions for the last 20+ years, I know the power of involving faculty in recruitment and I think others are trying to figure out how to get faculty more involved.
Here’s why faculty should be involved in recruitment (which incidentally is different from admissions):
Faculty members are excellent salespeople–When given the chance to talk about the discipline in which a faculty member is trained, there is so more compelling and convincing salesperson. Faculty members frequently light up when they talk about the subject matter around which they’ve built their career and life’s work. Faculty members are the best people to sell the student experience because they can discuss what specifically will occur in the classroom and they are specially equipped to share stories about student who they’ve taught and mentored. Students and parents recognize the passion when they see and hear is and it’s exactly why admissions professionals want the faculty in front of deciding students.
Faculty members can be a big “difference maker” when they are willingly and genuinely involved in recruitment–When catalog offerings all look the same (which they do), every viewbook offers has the same messages (which they do), and most campus visits all feel the same (which they do) the involvement of a passionate faculty member can “seal the deal.” At many colleges the faculty seem elusive and distant during the recruitment process (and maybe in the first couple of years of college). Involving faculty upfront sends a clear message about what students will encounter once enrolled. Faculty members make a connection to the college and major in the same way a coach might. When all things are equal, I think a contact from a faculty member will make a big difference in enrollment decisions.
Faculty members know the curriculum and major better than anyone else–There is no better way for a prospective student to hear about the curriculum and how it was constructed than through the seasoned voice of a member of the faculty. Faculty members can more effectively convey how the major fits into other experiences and why the course sequence is the way it is. To leave these details to a piece of paper, a website, the Registrar or an admissions officer is a missed opportunity.
Faculty members bring a credibility to the process that no admissions officer will ever have–Got Gravitas? Faculty do! Admissions counselors are like a viewbook; Faculty are like a course catalog. The viewbook is a glossy overview, while the course catalog is an in-depth authoritative source of information. As an admissions officer I am confident in my colleagues (and myself) that we can say the same words that a faculty member would say about a program, but our words are not as effective and don’t garner the same respect. Faculty members reinforce messages heard.
Now, I should state clearly that not every faculty member is an effective recruiter and not every faculty member should be expected to be a great recruiter. Further, faculty member involvement in recruitment is probably more important at tuition driven, smaller college. Finally, I am reminded as I write this post that before there were admissions officers, there were faculty members who did admissions (granted a very different kettle of fish than what we see today, but…). They are good at this.
Faculty members are important to recruitment because they are effective. And, based on the analytics I just reviewed, I think an increasing number of colleges are coming to this realization and trying to figure out the right level of involvement. Perhaps a future post will deal with the subject of striking the right balance for faculty involvement in student recruitment.
What are your thoughts about involving faculty in student recruitment?
W. Kent Barnds a.k.a. @bowtieadmission