Darcie Peterson, Advising Education Majors Commission Member
Lee Kem, Advising Education Majors Commission Past Chair
Editor's Note: The information provided here is drawn from a presentation and brainstorming session that occurred at the 2008 NACADA Annual Conference in Chicago.
Recruiting is a vital component within any college or university interested in attracting students. Everyone at the institution is involved with recruitment, including students, faculty,administration, and especially, academic advisors. Without recruitment, and the subsequent retention of students, an institution will perish! Nonetheless, in today’s competitive college market, which is compounded by current economic issues, recruitment requires more than a single informational letter from an academic advisor to potential students.
There are several issues and barriers which are unique to recruiting students to enter teacher training programs. What strategies can be implemented to address these issues and barriers?
There are many barriers in recruiting education majors, including false perceptions, lack of diversity, and differences in state standards. One false perception is that anyone can teach, an idea that can result in students with higher GPAs gravitating toward other majors. Although there are teacher shortages in math, science, special education, early childhood, and middle school, the overabundance of elementary education majors in some parts of the nation may discourage students from entering the field of education. Other perceptional barriers are that teachers are underpaid and that the field is dominated by females.
Demographic changes can create barriers for recruiting. As the ethnic demographics of the nation change, recruitment of under-represented student populations is essential. However, the geographic location of an institution can result in an unintentional lack of diversity within the locally available student pool. Additionally, students with degrees from other countries may encounter barriers that prevent or slow their paths toward teacher certification in the U.S.
Other barriers are found in the differing state requirements for certification and licensure. Furthermore, potential candidates may be discouraged by the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, the increased number of students within the K-12 system with difficult behavioral and learning issues, and the paperwork requirements of the job. The potential for lawsuits is also a consideration for those seeking to enter the education field.
How can we address these barriers and recruit more students into education programs? The first line of recruitment is to connect potential students with someone at the institution who can highlight the benefits of a teaching career. Advisors can partner with student recruiters and become involved in programs at middle and high schools where they can discuss the teaching profession or the transition to college.
Additionally, advisors can assist with concurrent enrollment courses where students earn college credit while still in high school. One college offers a concurrent enrollment course where high school students serve as peer tutors for students with disabilities. The high school students keep journals, as well as research and write papers regarding their experiences. They also learn basic teaching and behavior management skills.
On-campus advisors can become involved in campus visits by Future Educators of America, honors academies, and high school groups; participate in area recruitment activities; and meet with prospective students and their parents. Current students can meet with the advisor and prospective students and can establish another link for recruitment, particularly when contact is maintained with the prospective education major. In addition, students like SWAG (Stuff We All Get – and give away). SWAG that students will use (e.g., lanyards, magnets, and bags) serve as reminders of their visit. Campus visits can include lunch with advisors and faculty to learn about opportunities for careers in teaching. Students can also tour current research projects, participate in classes, or visit practicum settings.
A recruitment video can be easy to produce. Interview a program graduate, take pictures, add some music, and send it out to potential students or post it on a department Web site.
Many federal and state grants have requirements for recruitment of under-represented student populations. Institutions who receive such funding can use these resources to fund many of the above ideas.
The experiences of those attending the conference presentation confirm that students tend to choose institutions where they have had interactions with academic advisors. Advisors can be part of the orientation process and can follow-up with a card or email that will lay the foundation for continued contact when students arrive on campus. Education advisors can visit introductory courses and discuss opportunities in the education field. College of Education student ambassadors can be utilized as small group leaders or peer mentors in freshman orientation courses and be used to provide alternative scheduling options and interactions with non-traditional students.
The following is a list of strategies developed in the brainstorming activity done with conference session participants:
- Promote the positives of teaching, such as a good job market, early retirement after 30 years, comprehensive benefits and retirement packages, and the great return on investment in the life of others.
- Utilize current technology tools such as the Internet and user-friendly Web sites. Have current students email potential students. Keep a current blog for potential students and provide a student hotline.
- Offer a credit course for education ambassadors which includes publishing a video on YouTube™ focused on their enthusiasm for the teaching profession.
- Send an email to students with high GPAs in other departments or with undeclared majors inquiring whether they have thought about teaching as a career.
- Attract under-represented populations. Advisors can recruit in ESL classes. School districts and community colleges can team to identify potential education majors. Institutions can provide these students with tuition support, mentoring, and tutoring. Advisors can help newcomers from other countries make the transition to the United States. The Troops to Teachers program (www.proudtoserveagain.com) is another recruitment opportunity.
- Keep secondary education advisors up-to-date about advising information in high need areas.
- Provide resources and training sessions for high school guidance counselors.
- Relate positively to parents and include them in the recruiting/information process.
These ideas showcase the variety of tools available to advisors interested in recruitment. Academic advisors should play a major role in the recruitment process for education programs.
Advisor/Student Teaching Coordinator
Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation
Utah State University
College of Education
Murray State University
Cite this article using APA style as: Peterson, D., & Kem, L. (2009, March). The role of advisors in recruiting. Academic Advising Today, 32(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]