UA recruiters focus online

Alexandra Newman

While some colleges are changing their new student recruitment methods to include 3-D brochures and credit card-style applications, the UA has chosen to stick to more traditional techniques to attract a wide range of applicants.

The UA uses a variety of tactics to recruit new students. These include representatives at college fairs, colorful brochures, the new Parents and Alumni Working with Students program, direction of students to make a MyUA Web page, e-mail and the purchase of hundreds of thousands of names and addresses of students who take the PLAN or PSAT tests.

“”Marketing probably starts their sophomore year in high school,”” said Ryan Burton-Romero, associate director of the Office of Admissions.

Students who fill out an information card at a college fair or their high school’s career center are entered into a UA database. They will then receive e-mails directing them to create a MyUA Web page.

“”It’s a VIP page … it’s really easy to use, a lot of color, a lot of video they can see,”” Burton-Romero said. “”Very high-tech, very savvy atmosphere for these millennial generation students who are coming through.””

Some universities like Hobart and William Smith Colleges have recently decided to send out 3-D college brochures to make themselves stand out. Burton-Romero doesn’t think the UA would adopt such a technique.

“”That could be really cool, but it also could become really cheesy or trivial,”” he said. Right now, the UA uses two different brochures. One is called a “”fair piece”” and contains the nuts and bolts of the information students need. The other is a “”view book,”” which is a thicker, coffee table-type book that contains more detailed information and pictures.

Burton-Romero said the campus tour is generally the biggest turning point in a student’s college decision. But the bad economy has lead to less people traveling, so the money the UA spends on tours might be better spent on virtual tours.

“”It would cost a lot of money to do another publication. We could use that money for an online tour … some of the big universities out there have really great online tours with 360 degrees (views) and big angles,”” he said.

Andrew Braden, regional recruitment coordinator for the Office of Admissions, agrees that the UA’s dollars would be better spent elsewhere. He said he believes 3-D brochures would mean spending more money and would not reach as many students.

“”It’s better to reach out to a larger number with something cheaper and more cost effective,”” Braden said.

The College of Saint Rose in Albany is considering sending out credit card-style applications to potential recruits, with the student’s name and information already filled in. The application would read “”Exclusive Scholar Application”” on the front and would waive the application fee, skip the essay and guarantee a decision in three weeks. This leaves the student with little more to do than sign and send in the application.

“”I don’t think that’s something that I would ever advocate us doing,”” Braden said. “”(The) main reason … is it takes a lot of the work away from the student, and I think that applying to college should be a little bit of a process.””

Braden said when a student takes the time to sit down and actually fill out an application, they are showing the university that they are serious about attending, and not applying just for the sake of applying.

“”When we tell a student what we’re looking for they’re going to apply because they feel like they have that,”” Burton-Romero said.

Overall, the UA has grown in its performance and numbers, according to Burton-Romero. In fall 2009, the UA had 24,700 applicants, 19,300 of whom were accepted and 7,000 officially enrolled. That puts the number of applicants up 2,000 since 2008.