Guest post by Kevin Flora.
What does it mean to “recruit” anyway? Multiple definitions exist for the word “recruit,” but educational institutions tend to pigeon-hole themselves into a single definition – “to seek to enroll.” When Googling “recruit,” mostly business and athletic stories are found. Why does educational recruitment not show up you ask?
What are sports teams doing when recruiting? Increasing their roster size? No. What is a business doing when they recruit a new employee? Increasing their workforce? Maybe. Ultimately, athletics and businesses recruit to improve a strategy or, as Merriam-Webster puts it, “increase the health, vigor, or intensity.” Educational recruiting cannot be focused on enrollment goals to receive an adequate evaluation. Whether a K-12 school or a higher education institution, recruiting should be an intentional effort to find the best and build a relationship.
But what about the ones who may not be the best, but they are motivated? (This was me). Athletics and most businesses would give you a cliché phrase such as, “recruit the best and forget the rest.” In education, we have a unique opportunity to seek out the motivated and offer them the opportunity to be the best that they can be. If you are reading between the lines, the sum of the story is that educational recruiting has no boundaries! I can text a prospective student and not be on ESPN as not abiding by the law. I can call, visit, host, feed, gift, etc. any person I want in order to help them see themselves as a student at a particular institution. The sky is the limit.
For higher education, recruiting can be competitive between universities and also between colleges housed inside of universities. For K-12 schools, different states have different laws for recruiting. For instance, Kentucky forces students into a particular public school based on their housing location. The option exists for private school, home school, or some specialized school program, but those systems remain costly and time demanding. Wisconsin and Indiana, for example, have an open enrollment system, where a student on one side of the state can enroll in classes on the other side of the state and receive their diploma. These types of school systems are competitive to provide a quality education with appropriate personnel.
So let’s begin reframing educational recruiting. Let’s hire personal educational specialists to locate the best schooling option for your child. Let’s stop treating a prospective student as a number and build lasting relationships with the future workforce. Let’s stop recruiting for enrollment and start recruiting to increase the health, vigor, AND intensity of our programs. Think outside of the box and you will find yourself with a job description that lacks boundaries – setting you up for a creative, challenging, and rewarding position in educational recruiting.
Image Credit:Flickr user Mike Rohde