Workshop Summary

Strategies for Successful Recruitment of Geoscience Majors:
Conceptual Framework and Practical Suggestions

Representatives from thirty-seven geoscience departments met in Denver, CO, in October, 2007, to consider how geoscience programs can more effectively recruit majors. A full description of the workshop can be found on the workshop website. Over the course of the day, community members identified for their expertise gave presentations on:

  • Geoscience employment trends and what motivates students to pursue geoscience careers
  • Effective recruitment strategies at a wide variety of institutions, including
    • Early advising of prospective students
    • Having a variety of degree options in the Earth Sciences
    • Developing a relationship with the local community, with geoscience topics being featured in community conversations
    • Intentionally broadening recruitment efforts to include students not interested in pursuing geoscience careers, but for whom having a geoscience degree would be valuable

Participants shared with each other some of their recruitment strategies, discussed the process of assessing recruitment initiatives, and developed personalized action plans. Recruitment strategies arising from the discussion that resonated with workshop participants included:

  • Becoming intentional in the use of introductory geoscience courses to actively recruit students
    • Making a presentation about opportunities within the department's geoscience programs and about career opportunities in geoscience during each introductory course
    • Inviting all of the students who are earning A's and B's in an introductory course to a social event where they can meet others with similar interests and find out more about the department and its programs
  • Keeping track of alumni
    • Your department's own alumni make a great set of examples of what one can do with a geoscience degree
  • Meeting students where they live: online
    • Updating the departmental website to highlight the department's best features
    • Encouraging the geoscience club to create a "facebook" group, and joining it

Each participant went home with a written action plan describing the new strategies they intend to implement in their departments and how they will assess the effectiveness of their efforts. They are also particularly interested in developing and sharing surveys for students at different stages in their geoscience programs (upon declaring a major, during the 2nd or 3rd course, and as they finish their degrees), collecting information about why students choose a major and why they choose to continue in the program.