“If you aren’t a part of recruiting, then you are retention.” This was my quick statement as I entered this past #sachat (albeit, a little late). Quickly, this statement became a quick exchange between Cory Phare (@coryphare) and I. Cory responds, “I’d argue there shouldn’t be a difference here either.” I replied, “On a deeper level of understanding, you are absolutely right, there is no difference.”
Most childhoods include the timeless question, “Which came first the chicken or the egg?” Despite your beliefs and answers to this question, it creates a paradox suggesting that one couldn’t possibly exist without the other.
Fast forward to now and look at higher education. If we ask, “Which CAME first, recruitment or retention?” The answer is quite simple. You cannot retain and support the first college student if you have not recruited them.
Now that higher education is well established, and often the discussion around campuses fall along the question, “Which COMES first, recruitment or retention?”
This question pretends to share the same conclusion as the infamous relationship between the chicken and the egg, but it is more than that. It is not merely suggesting
During my time as an undergrad, I was a student ambassador. I gave tours, talked with students and parents, and it was my stories of being a student here on campus that often “sold” the prospective students. I was an orientation leader, and it was my stories that inspired and excited students coming to campus in the fall. I served as a Fall Welcome Ambassador and a First Year Seminar Student Instructor, and it was my stories that showed the do’s and do not’s to being a successful student here. So here I was, a successful student gaining all these experiences and stories, but at the same time being a piece of the puzzle to bring new students to campus. I was both recruitment and retention.
Moving on to my grad schooling and my professional experience, I am still both recruitment and retention. The only difference this time is that the stories changed. I have gone from primarily telling the personal stories to telling the stories of other students. In my Graduate Assistantship, it was stories of those students who have received career advising and had successes gaining their internships and employment. Now, I tell the stories of our professors and student successes as well as the services guidance we offer. Sure depending on the audience, I get to share a few personal anecdotes.
What drives our ability to remain successful in our work, regardless of our position, are the stories. We need to tell our stories, not only to students, but to one another. Allow other departments on campus to attend your staff meeting. Offer to go to other staff’s meetings. We all serve the same students, why not share the successes? Regardless of your position, whether an actual recruitment/admissions officer or a member of the Faculty, you all are one institution looking to not only bring students to your institution, but to make sure they are getting the best experience they can possibly get and have the stories to go along with it.
So, if you are still having the discussions of “Which comes first, recruitment or retention?” please muster up your greatest General Ackbar impression as your response.
Josh is a new professional working at Western Michigan University. He continues to expand people’s knowledge of the uses of technology in education all while making sure students are remaining successful in achieving their goals. An active member of #satech and creator of TechBytesEDU.com