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UA Little Rock computer science students take up recruiting project

Sometimes, when you are about to make an important decision, like where to go to college, a friendly ear is all you need.

This summer, students from the UA Little Rock Student Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) lent a friendly ear to prospective students (admitted, but not yet enrolled) via phone calls and answered their questions about student life at UA Little Rock.

“This is not a call to see if they are enrolling. This is a call to get students excited about their departments and letting them know about all the campus amenities,” said ACM Vice President Gaige Ehrenworth, a junior computer science major from Hot Springs. “A lot of the computer science students I called were interested in cybersecurity, and they did not know about the upcoming cybersecurity degree in 2021. UA Little Rock is a very good university for those who wish to get a good education at a reasonable price with flexibility for both the commuter and on campus students.”

Ehrenworth led a team of four computer science students who spoke with about 85 prospective students in the Department of Computer Science.

“Along with the specific areas of opportunity we offer, the department is also an energizing environment in which to study, in no small measure resulting from the activities and initiatives of the student chapter of the ACM,” said Dr. Albert Baker, interim chair of the Department of Computer Science. “That members of the chapter volunteered this summer to call admitted students who had not yet enrolled, is just one example of the value the chapter brings to the Department of Computer Science and UA Little Rock. Correlation is not causation, but we’ve seen an uptick in the number of enrolled computer science majors over the last 10 days or so. I sincerely thank the volunteers who made the calls.”

The additional ACM students who called prospective students include Julia Green, a senior from Maumelle, Brandon “Alex” Norman, a sophomore from Jacksonville, and John Clements, a senior from Little Rock.

“I think this was a great project,” Green said. “I’m a nontraditional student. I know how wonderful it is to know that someone cares about you and your education. It’s a nice feeling to know that somebody cares, and it was nice to provide that feeling for fellow students.”

Green also fielded questions from women who are worried about the low number of female students in STEM fields. Women in the U.S. make up only about 30 percent of those with a college degree in a STEM area, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“I had a few girls ask me what it was like being a computer science major,” Green said. “Some girls are worried that there are not a lot of women in STEM. I was glad that I could provide some reassurance for girls entering the program.”

The students even fielded some calls with the parents of prospective students.

“There were a few times when parents picked up the phone before the student, and they were surprised that a student was calling to answer their child’s questions,” Norman said. “The parents would tell their kids to talk to us, that it was an important opportunity for you to get to know your college.”

The students had such good feedback from the prospective students they called that they are hoping to continue and expand the project.

“I would like to start much earlier next year with a larger list of prospective students and get more students from the ACM involved,” Ehrenworth said. “Come this semester, I hope to see some of the students we contacted visit us at the ACM and the computer science department. I don’t see this outreach as ever ending. The department greatly appreciated our efforts, and, hopefully, we will see an increase in enrollment and an increase in campus involvement from our efforts.”