Photo: Connor McCourtney
Spring – a season where the frost fades, birds chirp and prospective students flock to campus to see if Drake is the right fit for them.
For many Drake students, the college admissions process is a distant memory. But as the college enrollment date of May 1 draws closer, it seems that prospective students can be found almost everywhere on campus, bringing back recollections of our own stressful college decision.
What often goes unnoticed is that spring isn’t just an important time for prospectives, but for Drake as well. Admissions counselors, professors and faculty must engage in a great deal of shameless school-promotion to attract students.
But recruiting prospective undergrads is more than just perkiness and a campus visit.
”The most effective way to speak to students about attending Drake is by being honest with them about what it is we offer as a university and also being honest about what we don’t offer,” said student ambassador Matt Martin.
Martin said the most common questions he is asked as an ambassador involve campus life and security. He makes sure to respond to these questions truthfully, citing facts and statistics about campus whenever possible.
“Honesty really is the best policy,” Martin said.
Silas Hanneman, a Drake admissions counselor, agrees.
“We feel being open with prospective students does ease stress and adds some extra legitimacy to the equation.”
Another way to target prospective students and make sure a school stands out is personalization. According to a study on noellevitz.com, the best way to attract students of the “social networking generation” is through personal contact with faculty and undergraduate students. Over 50 percent of the surveyed high-school students said they would read a blog written by a faculty member or current student to gain more information about a school.
Drake Admissions has this covered. In the “Undergraduate Admissions” section of Drake’s website, there are links to several students’ blogs. Each college has its own blogger, showing the different interests and talents of students. From posts about studying abroad to being vegan at college, the blogs are highly entertaining and give prospective students a glimpse into college life.
The Drake website also has a “live chat” feature, where prospective students can enter their student information and be connected immediately to an admissions counselor. Not only is this recruitment method quicker than waiting for an e-mail, it also brings the admissions process further into the web era.
To get even more connected to prospective students, admissions counselors have also created Facebook pages for themselves. Each page posts more information about Drake and serves as a forum for prospective students to ask questions. There are also pages for student ambassadors and each incoming class.
In addition, Drake has added a new section to its undergraduate application that lets prospective students submit an optional video about themselves (in addition to the traditional written personal statement). This allows prospective students to put together something creative that is more personalized than a standardized test score.
Hanneman stresses the importance of creativity.
“It certainly allows a college to differentiate itself from the next.”
Next time you see a prospective student around campus, say hello—and don’t be afraid to be honest. After all, when it comes to student recruitment, we definitely don’t deserve a “D+.”
Q & A with Drake Admissions Counselor Ryan Thompson
Q: What drew you to the admissions counselor position?
A: My background was actually in management and marketing. I used to meet with students at career fairs and conducted mock interviews. I ended up landing a job in the admissions counselor position this way.
Q: What’s your favorite part about the job?
A: I like meeting new people. It’s nice to see the goals, ideas and dreams that students have and how excited they get when you talk about what Drake has to offer.
Q: Where do you go to recruit students and how are you assigned to these regions?
A: I recruit students from northeastern Iowa, the state of Wisconsin and the West Coast. I’m from Arizona, so that’s mostly the reason why I was assigned to the West Coast.
Q: How do you recruit students from areas like the West Coast? California is definitely different from Des Moines.
A: The economy’s tough in the West Coast and schools are really crowded, so students are looking more toward the Midwest. People have a misconception of how life is in the Midwest. I talk up the opportunities for internships and research at Drake. Students like that Drake isn’t a “suitcase college” — it’s in a city, so there are always things to do.