Today we launch a new Sights & Sounds feature, A Day in the Life. Our inaugural post delves into the world of recruiting, courtesy of recruitment coordinator Janay Lewis.
If someone told me when I graduated that I would come back to recruit for UALR, I probably would have laughed at them. Not that my experiences at the university had been unpleasant, but my plan was not to work in higher education. In fact, I didn’t know exactly what recruiters did.
Surely enough, a few years after graduating, I came back to work for the university. While I didn’t know much about formally recruiting for a university, I knew that I loved meeting people, enjoyed talking (thanks Speech Comm department), and I knew a lot about UALR (because I was such an involved undergrad).
I came in during “recruiting season,” the months of August through November when high school college fairs are held. The state is divided into territories, and depending on the institution, each recruiter is assigned an area. High schools in each territory have college fairs running concurrently. The fairs can range, on average, from 2-5 hours long and most recruiters attend two or three per day. Fairs also can range from early in the morning to late at night, whenever is most convenient for teachers, students and parents.
Neighboring high schools generally try to schedule their fairs near each other (same day or next day) so for that reason recruiters generally stay in one area for extended periods of time and often have very, very long days. Couple that with the drive back to your hotel or to your next destination and you’ve got one worn recruiter.
During the fairs, we talk to prospective students, parents and counselors about the university, address concerns, calm fears, etc. That is the most rewarding part of the job; to help encourage a student to go to school and to help them find the resources to do so. Their expressions of gratitude – especially after they’ve become students – are amazing.
It’s necessary for us to stay informed of the university, the community, and the like because students ask questions … especially about anything negative that they may have heard. Our job is to be honest with the student, but we want to make sure that he leaves with positive perceptions of the university. In a sense, we are like the university’s unofficial PR people.
When you’re away from home for such a long time, you get lonely so the recruiters from other schools become your family. You eat together, vent to one another, and drive together (I can see our 15-car caravans now). Developing those relationships are necessary, otherwise the stress will become overwhelming.
So now that recruiting season is over, what do we do? Still travel. We make follow up visits to each of the high schools in our territories, give presentations in classes, make sure all of our schools have up-to-date information on the university, and so on. So, if you don’t like talking or can’t speak extemporaneously, this isn’t the job for you.
We conduct campus tours when those amazing kids we met at the fairs take the next step and decide to visit the school. We put on events, host groups of students, do tons of research, save the world … things of that nature.
We are the face of the university. Often, we are students’ initial interaction with the university. Our job is to be those students’ point person so if they have any questions through the application/enrollment process, we help them and/or direct them to others who can assist them.
We’re not only there to serve the students. We desire to serve the campus as well, so if you or your program ever needs an extra set of hands, an opinion from a high school kid’s perspective, or you just wanna chat, give us a call (or maybe shoot us an email since our job is to be away from the campus).