While a goal of many institutions is to treat multicultural students like every other student, it's important to realize that in many situations, the recruitment practices for this population of students needs to be different. Colleges and universities that have focused on finding ways to work with multicultural students outside of the traditional recruitment practices have had great successes. I wanted to share a couple of ideas my institution has been using for the past several years:
1. Transportation - We all know a campus visit is a vital piece of the college search process and often is one of the key determining factors in enrollment decisions. But what if your student doesn't have a car? Or a driver's license? Or the only car in their family is being used by their parents who need to work and can't take vacation time to bring their child to a college visit? Not all colleges have the benefit of being located on or near public transportation.
We started doing 2-4 free bus trips for students throughout the year that allow high school students the opportunity to visit campus, sit in on classes, stay overnight with current students, meet with faculty and eat at the dining facilities. These bus trips have been incredibly successful for us in raising applications and deposits from multicultural students who would likely have not been able to visit campus on their own.
2. Current Student Assistance – As I mentioned in my first post, I am now—and will always be—a middle-class white girl from Southern Minnesota. Knowing that, the worst possible thing I can tell a Hmong student from the inner city of St. Paul is that “I know what it will be like” for them to go to college, because their experience will be drastically different than mine. So instead of telling them what I think it will be like for them, I enlist my group of experts—current multicultural students.
I utilize current students in all phases of the recruitment process, from attending college fairs to making acceptance contacts. When our college is on break from classes, I have current students go back into their high schools to talk to other multicultural students about what going to college is like. During on-campus visits, we have a multicultural student panel that is facilitated by students (read: no staff present) so there can be open dialogue between the two groups. An added bonus? Giving current students an active role in the recruitment process opens their eyes to the life of a higher education professional, and I’m sure we’d all agree we need more diversity in higher education administration!
3. Thinking Outside the Box – Working within communities of color, I have learned there is a great emphasis on just that: community. Finding ways to connect with important members of the community can have a huge impact on recruitment for your institution.
Gone are the days of just attending college fairs and doing high school visits to meet prospective students. I frequently spend time at community centers, Boys and Girls Clubs and after-school programs connecting with students which allows us to talk about college in a much more casual setting. I’ve found that if you go to them, they are much more likely to come to you.
There are obviously many other recruitment practices that can work with multicultural students, but I want to hear from all of our loyal #EMchat followers! What have been some of your most successful recruitment practices for multicultural students?
As always, I’d love to connect with you on twitter (@jhiscock) and continue the conversation long after this post has been read. Until then, keep fighting the good fight!