Strong Geoscience Departments > Student Recruitment > Recruitment Strategies

Recruitment Strategies

The following list was compiled by Carol Ormand, based on recruitment strategies suggested by participants at the 2007 workshop on Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors and the 2009 workshop on Strengthening Your Geoscience Program.

Reach students earlier

  • Develop an outreach program. Each summer UT Austin's GeoFORCE program takes over 600 high school students on geologic field trips in Texas and throughout the United States. Taught by university faculty and research scientists, and mentored by professional geologists from industry partners, the trips engage and empower the students.
  • Offer college credit for approved high school geoscience courses. A poll of recent students in SUNY-Oneonta's Earth Science Outreach Program ( This site may be offline. ) shows that nearly 20% of those polled have decided to major in geoscience as a result of their participation in this program.
  • Anne Egger, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford University, details several strategies she has implemented at Stanford to reach potential geoscience students early on.
    This talk lasts 21 minutes.

    View the talk using Quicktime (Quicktime Video 244.1MB Nov12 07)
  • Find ways to reserve seats for 1st year students (and perhaps 2nd year students) in your introductory classes
  • Develop a short (15-20 minute) presentation about what you can do with a geoscience major, and have a guest faculty member give it in every introductory course, shortly before registration for the next semester. Showcase your recent field trip to the Bahamas and salary information for a variety of jobs in the geosciences.
  • Put together a video of what's it like to be a geoscience student, as demonstrated by Edinburgh University.
  • Offer a 1st year seminar course on a geoscience topic
  • Offer a field trip for 1st & 2nd year students
  • Have a special event for students in introductory classes earning grades of A or B
  • Change the introductory course name, or offer topical introductory courses
  • Use your best teachers for intro courses
  • Bring 1st year students to field camp as an intro opportunity
  • Develop early student research opportunities

Broaden entry routes into the major

  • Offer a wide selection of introductory courses (also serving your institution's general education needs)
  • Teach introductory courses every semester
  • Offer a field experience for incoming students
  • Develop minors especially for related majors

Remind introductory students that your alums are in a wide variety of interesting careers (including many beyond the geosciences)

  • Have alums visit
  • Use lab time to discuss career options

Give geoscience related ideas/resources to faculty in related disciplines

  • Distribute example math, chemistry, and physics problems with geoscience content

Integrate research with your curriculum

  • Bring your research into the classroom (even at the introductory level)
  • Have students do research as part of their coursework
  • Develop an annual Student Research Colloquium where your student researchers present their findings to the college/university community

Develop a sense of community among geology students/faculty

  • Set aside departmental space for students, if possible
  • Organize departmental events (annual awards potluck, fall picnic, etc.)
  • Involve your majors in your department:
    • Use student mentors/TAs/tutors
    • Student blogs about trips on your website
    • Meet the students where they are – facebook, youtube, blogs, web, etc.

Find out what you are doing well

  • Ask students, when they declare the major, what influenced their decision?
  • Survey alums to see how the program served them

Sing your department's praises

  • Advertise what you can do with a degree in your major (flyers, web, etc.)
  • Write press releases about your field trips, student research projects, and more
  • Develop an annual Student Research Colloquium where your student researchers present their findings to the college/university community

Work with your Admissions office to improve information about science options on campus

  • Tour of campus features science facilities
  • Additional promotional materials in the Admissions office (prepared by the science departments)

Recruit the parents

  • Note: this may be especially important in some under-represented cultures

Work with 2-year colleges

  • Give your 10-minutes "Why Major in Geoscience" presentation in their geoscience classes

Actively recruit "refugees" from other sciences

  • Biology often has more majors than they can handle; they may be happy to send students toward the geosciences

Hire current students to help with recruitment

  • Get students to create facebook group/site

Look at your webpage

  • How would an outsider (prospective student, parent) see it?
  • Does it mention becoming a major?
  • Does it mention career opportunities?

Work with local/regional K-12 teachers