About a week ago my oldest daughter Amber, who is a freshman at Georgia College and State University, spent a part of her day manning a table for The Catalyst Network at Springfest 2010, a visitation day planned for admitted high school seniors. A little while into her volunteering, Amber sent me a text saying that things were slow and they hadn’t seen many students to recruit for the organization. By the end of the day, the group, which is for minority sciences majors, had spoken with about four students and only one of those was an incoming freshman.
Overall GCSU has a low percentage of minority students and there aren’t many being recruited from high schools. So, what’s a campus organization looking to recruit new members to do? Dave Kelly, our resident leadership expert, has the answer for the organizations and for the schools.
One of the problems, Kelly says, is that very few schools do anything beyond giving organizations a recruiting table at the campus events. Some organizations, depending on their targeted membership, may need to go beyond and above to effectively recruit new members.
In a case like this, where there aren’t many prospective organization members already on campus (minority science majors), organizations’ officers should step up and approach their schools about going to high schools during recruitment efforts. They can help promote the overall benefits of attending the school then tack on the support of their campus organization as an additional benefit. The best way to do this is to get the cooperation of the department chair or advisor. The student members can also participate in high school recruiting efforts at orientations, campus tours, etc. If the club really offers a benefit, it can be a win for the organization, the school and the new students.
Whether on campus or off, once recruiting tables or booths are set up, there are a few things the schools, and groups, can do to make events like GCSU’s Springfest a complete success for the campus organizations involved:
1. Create and distribute a map of all the tables at the events including the names of the campus organizations represented instead of just hoping new and prospective students will just stumble upon them.
2. Don’t put chairs at the tables or booths. Representatives should stand in front of the tables and engage visitors. It’s too easy for the volunteers manning the booth to just pull up a seat, chill and chat instead of meeting and greeting.
3. Create opportunities for students to develop leadership skills, which will assist organizations in recruitment efforts. One of the things they would learn is a recruitment technique, which Kelly explains in his “What is your campus organization’s defining statement?” blog post (http://campustalkblog.com/studentleadership/defining-statement).Group members should approach students using a defining statement instead of the name of the group. Especially in a case like this where they might not know what “The Catalyst Network” is or does just by hearing its name.
A defining statement can be something like “Are you interested in learning about leadership development?” or “Would you like to participate in community service?” Then once the person is at the table you can give them more specific information about the organization and what it does. Kelly says this is a proven technique. Also, attract attention, by displaying tri-fold boards with pictures of activities, scrapbooks or photo albums to give a visual representation of the organization and its activities.
Overall, there are ways to make campus organization recruiting efforts more effective, even in tough situations like this. Thanks Dave. I hope Amber, GCSU and The Catalyst Network are listening.
First-time college mom