Balance recruitment across demographics with centralized data

Starting a new college program is all about gaining experiences, building a network and expanding horizons. As such, a diverse student body is key to cultivating an atmosphere in which people are able to discuss new ideas and broaden their perspective on the world around them.

The task of recruiting a diverse balance of incoming young men and women then falls to admissions counselors, but this is easier said than done. According to the 2014 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College & University Admissions Directors, 61 percent of all schools did not meet their new student enrollment goals prior to May 1, 2014. Only 35 percent of private nonprofits reached their initial projections, while public institutions fared slightly better at 41 percent.

To improve diversity in incoming classes, colleges and universities need a more detailed way of looking not only at who is applying to their schools, but who they need to select. With real-time data and recruitment analytics that ease the administrative burden of recruitment on admissions officers, recruiting a diverse student body represented by all backgrounds might finally be possible.

Students notice when their schools aren't diverse - admissions departments should, too.Students notice when their schools aren’t diverse – admissions departments should, too.

Front and center
Institutions that recruit diverse incoming classes have the advantage of being awarded federal funds as well as attracting students that will make for a more inclusive campus environment. To foster such efforts, President Mark Schlissel announced the formation of a task force to explore ways the university could recruit incoming classes more reflective of the surrounding communities, as reported by the Detroit Free Press.

Schlissel told the source. “I think Michigan rightly is proud of its long-standing commitment to diversity. We can’t be an excellent university unless we are diverse,” Schlissel told the source.

Schlissel instructed the heads of each academic department to individually review ways their programs could attract more diverse applicants. The findings will be shared with campus leaders and activists at a lunch later in the spring.

“Making the trip to multiple graduate school fairs might give you the chance to interact with more applicants on a more detailed and meaningful level.”

A new approach
While professors and students discuss the academic and social impact of a diverse student body, admissions offices are under serious pressure to deliver measurable results under strict deadlines. Luckily, there are proven ways to improve recruitment efforts.

According to Pennsylvania State University, the key is personal connections made through face-to-face interactions that allow minority students to see how a given institution appeals to them.The report also recommended that schools make more concerted outreach efforts to underrepresented segments of the population. A single visit to a regional college fair won’t likely leave much of an impression in the minds of students, but making the trip to multiple graduate school fairs might give you the chance to interact with more applicants on a more detailed and meaningful level.

Many universities don’t have the resources to hire an unlimited number of admissions officers, so they must instead maximize the efficiency of their recruitment officers for optimal results. This may mean shifting administrative processes onto other employees or delegating the tasks to automated programs that centralize and format applicant data.

Schools that make efforts toward creating diverse student bodies pave the way for better opportunities for all Americans – regardless of race or income. It’s critically important that every university reviews not only where they could improve the demographic makeup of their incoming graduate class, but how they can mobilize their admissions departments to best achieve those goals.