Recruiting new Vandals is a year-round endeavor that every faculty, staff member and alumnus can help with, but autumn is a particularly critical time in the recruitment process.
October is “Next Steps Month” in Idaho, a time when the state’s high school seniors are encouraged to think about their options and take that next step toward a college education and a successful career. Idaho students can apply to any of 10 colleges and universities in the state with a single application, including the University of Idaho. The State Board of Education even held a virtual college fair this week to encourage students to evaluate their options.
“Next Steps Month” is also time for all of us to encourage the prospective students we know to think about their futures. Some will go directly to college next year; others will not. Some recent graduates have deferred a year because of uncertainty caused by the pandemic, and others are evaluating whether a college education is worth the cost.
Our collective job is to explain and promote the value of going on to higher ed. You’ve heard me say it, and the studies back it up: A college education makes us healthier, wealthier and wiser.
Statistics show students who go on to higher education earn $1.2 million more on average over their lifetimes if they earn a degree. College graduates also tend to live nine years longer on average and are more likely to be more involved in their communities.
There are many, many ways to deliver that message.
I took that idea to Teton High School last week in Driggs. Many schools are closed to in-person visits because of the pandemic, so a big thank you to Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme for allowing me – using appropriate health and safety precautions – to talk to your students.
Last week’s visit was part of the University of Idaho’s Enroll Idaho program. The tour program provides financial aid information, advising and other resources to school assemblies so students understand how to apply, finance and get excited about going on to the college or university of their choice. Enroll Idaho has been on hiatus since March, so it is nice to once again bring this message to future Vandals.
College recruitment looks a little different during a pandemic, which is why programs like our Virtual Campus Tour, Virtual Vandal Viewbook and other online resources have been so useful.
As a destination campus, it is still important to bring high school seniors to the University of Idaho as they make decisions about their next steps. Saturday’s in-person Envision event will be the first in a series of on-campus recruitment programs this fall aimed at marketing our campus experience. Our alma mater has always been ranked in the top 6% of all public colleges and universities in the country, but this year was also selected by U.S. News and World Report as the No. 1 Best Value of all public universities in the West.
Alumni play a pivotal role in student recruitment as well. Last year, members of the Vandal Family wrote thousands of congratulatory cards to admitted students sharing their stories of the benefit of a University of Idaho education. This fall, we are working with alums to participate virtually in recruitment event panels.
Alumnus and architect Mark Engberg '84 took a unique approach to helping recruit new Vandals. Working with his next-door neighbor, who happens to be an award-winning videographer, he traded house designs for a beautiful video spot highlighting Idaho and our university as a great place to get an education. We’ll be using it on social channels and elsewhere. Thank you, Mark!
The University of Idaho offers $30 million in scholarships and waivers to help students break down the financial barrier of higher education. Even so, it is up to all of us to encourage our state’s young people to see the value of a college degree to their future career.
“Next Steps Month” activities are an example of how we can help the state’s students elevate themselves by going on, and I challenge each of you to help your alma mater by encouraging this year’s high school graduates to visit our campus.
If every member of the Vandal Family helps recruit three prospects, that would normally result in at least one new student. Recently, a State Board of Education member commented on how committed and proud our alumni are. Let’s reinforce that distinction by ensuring the Gem State’s high school seniors take their next step toward becoming a Vandal.