Recruiting at the graduate level is a shared responsibility. The Graduate School (and Distance Education for those programs) can assist with recruiting/marketing, but at the graduate level the program (preferably faculty and students) needs to be directly engaged in the process as well.
Perhaps the most important aspect to remember is that most serious graduate students choose you and your program, not "Appalachian."
This means that the more you can share about what your faculty and students are doing and what the prospect has to gain from YOUR program the better.
Some questions to consider as you consider marketing/recruiting ideas.
- Is your message consistent and targeted? Does it highlight the one or two most important benefits of your program? Is it addressed to the prospect (you, your; not we, our, the University)?
- Is it clear why a prospect should choose your program over another? Do you even know what your competition looks like?
- Can a prospect tell whether your program results in graduates getting jobs or some other career advancement?
- Can a prospect find information about what the faculty and students are doing wrt research or professional practice?
- Can a prospect learn about what it is like to be a grad student in the program, more than just what courses are required?
Low Cost / Time Commitment Ideas
- Check and update your department website at least once each term, preferably more frequently.
- Check the grad school admissions fact page about your program at least once each term. Be sure to also review the PDF flyer attached to that page.
- Consider engaging prospects with students and faculty through social media; facebook and perhaps Twitter if you have something to say with some level of frequency.
- Consider asking current students to communicate with prospects about the program.
- Respond quickly and cordially to inquiries you get via the Graduate School, via Distance Education, and directly from the prospect. Keep track of all inquiries and follow up.
- Follow up with applicants periodically at all stages - perhaps enlisting current and former grad students to deliver some of your message.
- Reach out to colleagues at potential feeder schools about sending some students your way. Offer to exchange contact lists (be sure to ask students first!!!)
- Toot your own horn; send press releases to the University News Bureau for further dissemination.
- Work with the Graduate School (and Distance Ed if applicable) on a communication plan, some of which may be automated for you. Email is the most common, but if you have an address, send something after a brief wait time.
- Keep in mind that research shows that after the admission offer, undecided prospects want to hear from the faculty and students - not administrators, grad school staff, etc.
Moderate Cost / Time Commitment Ideas
- Work with the Graduate School to purchase names from recent GRE takers. And then communicate with them.
- Work with the Graduate School (and Distance Education if applicable) to market programs via print, television, radio or other media as appropriate. Consider working with similar programs to create a joint ad.
- Offer your services as a "guest speaker" to potential feeder departments / programs, with the proviso that you can spend a few minutes talking about your graduate program.
- Attend graduate recruiting events that are discipline specific through your regional, state, or national disciplinary organization.
- Provide a small honorarium for recent graduates to recruit on your behalf at events near their homes.
- Invite prospects to events in or related to your program -- seminars, workshops, shows, alumni events, conferences, etc.
- Participate fully in campus visits, such as First Fridays. Provide and subsidize other activities during that weekend for prospects who make the trip.
GAPSEMC (recruiting/marketing consultant) 5 Minute / 7 Question / 100% Get-it-Right Pre-Test Promotion Test
For everything you produce about your program, ask a group of students to answer the following questions and use their feedback to make improvements.
- What does it say?
- If there's one main message, what is it?
- What is it asking you to do?
- Why should you do it?
- When is it asking you to do it?
- How does it make you feel?
- What image does it create?