Successful Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Geoscience Majors

Thursday 1:30pm-2:45pm Gordon: Symphony Meeting Room
Panel Discussion


Randall Richardson, The University of Arizona
Suzanne O'Connell, Wesleyan University
Heather Petcovic, Western Michigan University
Eric Baer, Highline Community College (Moderator)

With an aging geoscience workforce, employment opportunities in the geosciences remain robust, creating a demand for workers prepared as undergraduate majors in the geosciences. At the same time, participation of underrepresented minorities in the geosciences remains under 10% and participation of women under 40%. Strategies are needed to broaden access to the geosciences through increased awareness and effective recruitment. Strategies are also needed to retain students once they are in geoscience programs. Panelists will present examples of successful recruitment and retention strategies, including those that are demonstrated to be effective with underrepresented groups.

Group strategies for attracting students

  • Advisory board to develop partnerships, letters of support from K-12, improve branding
  • community building: 2YC-infuse more geosystems and earth topics across the curriculum
    • builds community of interest at 2YC level
  • One full tuition scholarship to earth science major via highschool test and interview
    • opportunity to interact with high school students
  • interact with admissions and find out who students are--direct engagement; meeting students and selling dept--Don't wait for students to come to you!
    • reach out to high school and 2YC
  • recognize students that are doing well and acknowledge their work with letter
  • Dinner with faculty
  • transfer students--collaborate with 2YC so they are well prepared
  • graduates report on experiences after graduation in terms of jobs and experiences
    • recommendation: have students gain GIS skills to help with future employment
  • field trips: local, outside of classroom
  • increasing transfers-summer field course, engage in place-based and inquiry-based
  • recruitment needs to be team effort; assigning specific tasks
  • course-based research projects with presentations; created space and time for students to do work
  • community outreach to younger students (5th graders) with graduate students