Graduate Student Recruiting Tips for Graduate Programs at Emporia State

Identify and Recruit Graduate Students

The days of sitting back and waiting for graduate students to come to you is over.  Here are some suggestions for ways to identify and recruit students to your graduate program.

  1. Know where your students are coming from (where are they getting their undergraduate degrees).  Has this trend changed over the past 4 years?
  2. ESU undergraduate students are, for most programs, your number one pool of graduate students. 
    • Make sure your undergraduate students know about your graduate programs and get your undergraduate students involved with faculty (research, presentations, etc.).
    • If you have a student organization, ask the Graduate School recruiter to come and talk to you organization. 
    • Talk with students from other disciplines that come into your graduate program. 
    • Advertising the Graduate Boot-Camps - offered through Graduate School and Career Planning
  3. Develop a pipeline with colleagues at other universities.  Ask for student referrals - follow-up with these referrals.
  4. Use databases such as GRE, McNair, National Name Exchange and KSDE teacher database to identify prospective students in your area.  Some databases are free (KSDE, McNair) and others have a cost (GRE).
  5. Host an online, virtual recruiting session
  6. Host a workshop or information session for juniors to go through process of applying and benefits of a graduate degree.
  7. Look at your data and trend data for your various funnel areas (inquiries, applications, admits and enrollments).

    Recruitment Request Form 

Graduate Website Recruiting Tips

Your website is the first thing many prospective students see related to your graduate program.

  1. Make it as attractive, up-to-date and easy to navigate (put information they want to find in an easily accessible place).  Don't make a prospective student search for basic information - usually the rule is 2 clicks and done.
  2. Test your website on a smartphone and tablet.  Does it work - How does it look?
  3. Make your website more than just "a list of program requirements"
  4. Add faculty profiles - this one of the most important areas you can add for graduate students
  5. Add student profiles and highlights
  6. Add student testimonials
  7. Have a bragging area related to student and faculty accomplishments
  8. Add a section on alumni and their recent accomplishments
  9. Add pictures - make sure the pictures show action and experiences
  10. Remember you are marketing to graduate students, not undergraduate students and the information, message and images need to reflect graduate education.
  11. Make funding/scholarship information readily apparent
  12. Make contact information easy to find.  Contact your REQUEST FOR INFORMATION directly to the ESU Graduate link at
  13. Are you using social media?  If so, how are you using it? 

Communicating with Graduate Students

Responsive, ongoing and personal communication with graduate students is very important in the recruitment of graduate students and can be the difference between a student applying to ESU and a student making a decision to go elsewhere.

  1. Departments should have ongoing communication through a variety of modes (email, phone, snail mail, Skype, etc.).
  2. Answer inquiries quickly.  Address their questions specifically and if you have time, phone them.
  3. After sending a response back to an inquiry, have a faculty member follow up with the prospective student.
  4. Establish a departmental policy on response time to respond to students - the sooner the better - but try to make it within 24 hours.
  5. Go to the students, don't expect them to come to you.  If you know they have an interest - contact them.
  6. If you can, have current graduate students send emails or call prospective students. 
  7. Communication does not stop with an application - once you get an application, follow-up with a thank you for applying - once admitted follow-up with a congratulations and once they enroll, follow-up with advising and enrollment information.

Use of Data by Graduate Program

  1. Look at your data and trend data for your various funnel areas (inquiries, applications, admits, enrollments, and degrees conferred). What trends do you notice - do you see poor conversions between inquires to applications, if so, make a plan on ways to change this conversion rate.  Determine why the conversions are not being made. 
  2. What data does your program need that you currently do not have access to?  Make an appointment with Institutional Research and ask for reports to be developed that you can run at any time.
  3. From where are your students coming - if you notice that you have a large population of students coming from a certain institution, make it a point to go visit that school and make a more personal contact with students and faculty from that institution.
  4. Have you surveyed your incoming students and asked how they heard about ESU graduate programs? 
  5. Do you conduct an exit with your students leaving your program (either not completing or graduating)?
  6. What new delivery methods are you considering for graduate programs with very static growth and low enrollment (4+1, hybrid or online)?

Discipline Specific Tips

  1. Graduate students care very deeply about the faculty with whom they will be working.  Before deciding on any program, students review faculty information.  Put up faculty bios on your website!
  2. Will you be hiring graduate assistants?  Who should student contact if interested in YOUR PROGRAM as a GA?
  3. Do you have scholarships?  If so, do you have information on these scholarships available on your website?
  4. Advertise at professional conferences at state, regional or national level (this would depend on your budget). 
  5. Have a list of talking points available for all faculty.
  6. Exhibit at your professional conferences.  These conferences usually have student only sessions or student socials.  Send faculty to talk to students during these sessions about your graduate programs.
  7. Host an evening phone calls for faculty and/or current enrolled graduate students to call prospective students.  The Graduate School will pay for pizza for all who show up to make calls. Please contact our Graduate Recruiter to set this up for the departments.
  8. Do you have a multimedia display that is available on your website highlighting your graduate program, facilities and people?
  9. Use free, campus advertising opportunities - TV monitors across campus
  10. If you see a potential for international growth, contact OIE and set up a meeting to see how they might assist in  recruitment into your graduate program.
  11. If you have a departmental newsletter, send the newsletter, not only to enrolled students but to newly admitted students.
  12. Campus visits - surprisingly, these are still important recruiting tools for graduate students.  Have students set up campus visits through the Graduate School and make sure a faculty member is available to speak to student and possibly a current graduate student.