Initial Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Advertise Your Program, on Campus and Beyond

Written by Carol Ormand, based on ideas compiled from the 2005 workshop on Developing Pathways to Strong Departments of the Future and the 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors.

Your faculty and staff colleagues can be allies in your recruitment efforts, but only if they know about your program(s). Likewise, students don't choose majors they've never heard about. Get the word out around your campus and your community about the vital work you and your students are doing using some of the strategies below.

Approach Your Top Students Directly

One of the recommendations from the October 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors was to use the direct approach in recruiting top students from you introductory classes.

For example, in one participant's department, all of the faculty invite students who are earning grades in the A-B range to an informational meeting about the major/minor. As an added incentive, they provide food at the meeting (pizza and sodas).

Sing Your Own Praises

Nobody knows what you do best better than you do. Tell the world about it!

Stanford University

Anne Egger describes her multi-faceted approach as her department's staff person in charge of recruitment in her presentation, Getting Involved Early, (Acrobat (PDF) 5.2MB Oct27 07) from the 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors. She recommends being an advisor to first-year students, participating in events at your institution (such as new student orientation and majors fairs), and creating opportunities for students via courses and research.

North Dakota State University

Bernhardt Saini-Eidukat describes how his department is often featured in the local newspaper, both for their research activities and for numerous community service activities. His presentation, Raising Community Awareness, (Acrobat (PDF) 2.4MB Oct28 07) is from the 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors. He recommends writing press releases about department activities, engaging K-12 students in geoscience-related activities, developing public service websites on geoscience topics, and providing geoscience advice to the community.

Hamilton College

Barb Tewksbury describes her department's approach to recruitment in her presentation, Recruiting Broadly: Aiming Beyond the Career Geoscientist, (Acrobat (PDF) 57kB Oct28 07) from the 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors. They focus on how a geoscience degree is excellent preparation for a multitude of career options.

Pennsylvania State University

Tim Bralower describes his department's approach to recruitment in his presentation, Designing Attractive Programs, (Acrobat (PDF) 1.8MB Feb27 08) from the 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors. Knowing that their students have a wide variety of interests and career aspirations, they offer a wide variety of degree programs in the geosciences. In particular, they've built some interdisciplinary programs around the expertise of their faculty in emerging fields.

Here are several additional strategies for advertising your strengths:

  • Develop a recruitment poster, flyer, or brochure, and post it in prominent campus locations. Here is a collection of recruitment posters created by geoscience departments across the country.
  • Contact the editor of your alumni magazine and volunteer to write an article (or help with an article) about an exciting recent activity in your department: a research project, student presentations at a research conference, a field trip, etc.
  • Publish a department newsletter.
  • Update your department's website regularly with news of exciting activities, photos from field trips, etc. One way to do this is to turn it over to a responsible student employee.
  • Advertise your speaker series via a faculty email list and posters.

Appoint a Contact Person for the Department

Faculty advisors, admissions staff, and others at your institution won't always know the answers to student questions about your programs. The next best thing is for them to all know whom to contact to get the answers. If you designate one person in your department as the "go-to" person, and advertise that fact widely, you'll know that everyone with questions gets consistent, accurate information.

Befriend Your Admissions and Career Office Staff

The staff at your institution wants to help students find programs that fit their interests, and wants to help faculty find students with interests in their programs. To be successful, they need to know about your programs: what do you do, what kinds of students are you looking for, and what kinds of careers do your alumni pursue?

Observations from a Career Counselor

Julie Vick, from the University of Pennsylvania's Career Services office, offers her advice on how departments and career offices can work together in this presentation (Acrobat (PDF) 274kB Feb5 08) from the 2007 workshop on preparing future geoscience professionals.

Have your department contact person visit campus offices

Bring copies of your promotional materials to your campus admissions office and career center and spend some time talking with the staff. Tell them about recent departmental activities, such as research, internships, and field trips, and let them know what careers your alumni are pursuing. Ask them what kinds of questions students or prospective students have about your institution's programs in the sciences.