Look at trends

Do you notice that you receive a large applicant pool from a specific institution or area of the country? Are certain applicants not committing to your program? Consider these findings when creating your recruitment plan. Look at national trends to see if other institutions are experiencing something similar. Resources like CGS Graduate Enrollment and Degree report and IIE Open Doors Report can help you compare.

Identify your program’s strengths

Identify at least three highlights of your program to use in recruitment. These could include rankings, research access, student funding, location, job prospects or student engagement. Use these highlights when creating recruitment material or when having conversations with prospective students.

Review your program’s website

As a prospective graduate student, how easy is it to find information on your webpage? How many clicks does it take to get there? Ask people who are not familiar with your page to try to find information. Ask current students for their input. Review your website periodically to ensure things are up to date and hyperlinks still connect.

Be responsive

Responsiveness can make or break an applicant’s commitment. Try to ensure emails, phone calls and other methods of communication are replied to quickly and thoughtfully. Consider creating a standard initial response email faculty can use when they receive general inquiries. An example can be found in Recruitment Templates and Printouts.

Identify college or program recruitment representatives

Identify current graduate students who can share and articulate the graduate student experience for your unit with prospective students through email, during campus visits or at recruitment events. Be mindful of the time commitment you are asking from the student.

Also, identify faculty and staff who are skilled and successful at recruiting. Provide resources and opportunities for them to pursue recruitment outreach. While there may be primary recruitment representatives for your unit, remember that EVERYONE can play a role in recruitment.

Visit College and Program Recruitment Representatives for more resources.

Get your name out there

External conferences are opportunities to promote your program through print ads, hosting an expo table or having OSU attendees share information while networking. Undergraduate poster sessions are a great place to interact and share information with qualified students as well. Whoever is representing your unit should be able to speak to your program’s highlights and website, and have a way to collect or share contact information. Send a follow-up email to collected contacts to keep dialog moving. Request Graduate School Material to send with representatives.

Oregon State undergraduates are a local recruitment source. Participate in different on-campus events (Meet the Majors, Career Development Center workshops, etc.) to spread awareness about your graduate programs. Advertise open lectures to undergrads, offer to speak to student clubs or organize a graduate programs info session. Social media and email communications are other ways to get your name out there.

Continue recruitment post-admission

Getting a student to apply and be admitted is just the first step. The next task is having the student commit and enroll. Continue communication with admitted/committed students. Have faculty or program directors call admitted students to congratulate them and answer any questions. Invite admitted graduate students to join a Facebook or Slack group where they can meet each other and converse before the term starts. Note that students residing in China will need a VPN to access these platforms.

Host a campus visit for admitted students to connect with your program virtually or in-person. During the visit, allow opportunities for admitted students to interact with unit faculty, staff and students and to learn more about program specifics. An example agenda can be found in Recruitment Templates and Printouts. Partner with the Graduate School to present an OSU Graduate School for Prospective Students to visiting students.