Faculty, staff work to make KSU a student’s first choice

Lindsy Neer

Caitlin McErlean, a senior at Hudson High School, is nervous about majoring in graphic design when she begins at Kent State in the fall. She had a lot of questions, and a new e-mail campaign has given her a chance to talk directly to students and faculty in her college.

“Kent has been very active with contacting me and letting me know about the program,” McErlean said. “They are very friendly and more personal than any other college I’ve encountered.”

Colleges all across campus are sending out e-mails to newly admitted students, congratulating them on their acceptance and offering any assistance the new freshman might need. Thanks to recent changes in admissions, students are now told earlier if they are admitted, and financial aid packets come out sooner.

“I’m glad that I know some people who are in my major so I feel a lot more comfortable and not as scared of what it will all be like,” McErlean said.

The College of Communication and Information is one of the colleges most involved in new recruitment possibilities.

Until two years ago, not much was being done once students got accepted to Kent State, said Barbara Hipsman, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication who has been involved with CCI’s recruitment changes.

“We had cut back our staff so far at the university level that they were having trouble just holding it together,” Hipsman said. “Some students were not admitted until March.”

Hipsman and other faculty began calling prospective students to tell them more about CCI, Franklin Hall and the student media they could get involved in on campus.

“If I got a student who was interested in a certain subject, I’d try and slip a note to that particular teacher to ask if they had time to call the kid,” Hispman said.

The College of Business and Administration also added hands-on activities to attract better and brighter students. They invited students from area high schools to compete in a marketing competition.

“They were charged with creating a toy for a three- to six-year-old child,” said Elizabeth Sinclair-Colando, assistant dean in the College of Business and Administration. “They had to come with a prototype or at least an electronic drawing.”

Eight teams of students participated. First place received $1,000, second received $500 and third received $250.

Then, in Fall 2009, the College of Business had its own freshman class organize a broomball competition between the freshmen and students from area high schools, which allowed potential students to not only have fun, but meet students in their intended major.

Hipsman followed up with students who had been admitted to CCI by sending them a packet of information about what the college offers. The packets also included a newspaper or magazine from the student media on campus.

“I think because we’ve been more aggressive, we’re getting a higher GPA and ACT,” Hipsman said. “Students are starting to decide why they would go to OU when they could be in student media in the first week of school.”

While these went out to all prospects, taking the extra time to show students you want them to come to Kent State can help push a student toward Kent State’s direction, said Jennifer Kramer, manager of public relations and marketing at Kent State, who is also involved in the new recruiting process.

Beginning in January, CCI started sending out e-mails to students who had shown interest in CCI, whether they were admitted yet or not. The first e-mail is from a faculty member, congratulating the student on their admittance and telling them a little about CCI, Franklin Hall and student media.

The second e-mail, sent about a week later, is from Anne Dudley, a senior interpersonal communication and marketing assistant major, who shares her experiences at Kent State.

“Students who take initiative to contact me are obviously on top of their college planning game and likely more in charge of their academic career,” Dudley said in an e-mail interview. “I suspect that these students will be future assets to CCI.”

These personal e-mails don’t just give students a feeling that the university cares, but it allows them to ask questions to Dudley about anything they’d like to talk about. The faculty is also very involved in the e-mail process, gladly answering any questions for students that she can’t answer.

“We’re all about trying to build relationships,” Kramer said.

CCI now has pages on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn and YouTube, in hopes that showing prospective freshmen the kind of work that comes from Kent State students is held to a very high standard.

“It’s really about who wows them,” Kramer said. “We try to connect to them in the way they feel most comfortable.”

Although it is fairly early in the extended and in-depth recruiting that colleges like CCI and the College of Business are doing, Kramer hopes the things they are doing will soon be done by all colleges.

“That’s the business that we’re in, so we should be out in front,” Kramer said. “We want to be the ones that people are copying because that’s what our business is.”

Contact student affairs reporter Lindsy Neer at [email protected].