Best Practices in Recruitment

What prospective students need to know

The very best graduate students need answers to the following questions:

  • What is the department’s average time to degree?
  • How long does it really take to navigate the program?
  • What kind of financial support is available? Can I get that in writing?
  • What is the attrition rate? (If this question is deflected, students will ask for the rate of completion.)
Demographics and climate

They will want to know the demographics of the faculty and student body. They will want to know the climate for the entire spectrum of human diversity. This is much more than race and ethnicity. They need to talk to current graduate students without faculty and staff present. Prospective students will investigate the experience of other students. They will ask about climate in the programs. Is it harsh and competitive, warm and supportive? Do students feel lost in the shuffle? How is the advising? Is any mentoring going on? Do the students want to be here?

Campus visits

Prospective students will ask if the department has a program to bring prospective students to campus. The answer to this question provides the prospective student with a great deal of information about value and commitment, as well as the degree of welcome the student can expect from the program.  

During those visits, prospective students will ask what it is like to live and learn in Columbus. Everything from parking, to child care, to health care, to rent, to churches, and recreation can influence a decision to apply and accept an offer. 

What can recruiters do?
  • Speak only truth.
  • Know their discipline, their department and their college/university.
  • Understand admissions criteria and timelines.
  • Bring students to campus. Facilitate exploration and connection.
  • Develop a departmental culture that supports and develops the talent in students.
  • Mentorship and advising are critical components for success. Evaluate what is currently in place and areas of improvement.
  • Consider “bridging” activities for first-year graduate students.
  • Each student needs a plan for matriculation.
  • Have plans in place for intervention as required.
  • Cohort-based programs can be very effective in both recruitment and retention.
From the time students apply to the time they are admitted
  • Upon receipt of application, an e-mail is sent from either support staff or the faculty member charged with recruitment. This acknowledges that their application has been received, is of value to us, and provides an opportunity to supply general admissions information, basic department information, and a timeline.
  • Follow-up is important. Periodic inquiries should be sent to applicants to see if they have questions, encourage the timeliness of material submission, and to keep the student engaged.
After admission
  • Upon admission, all those admitted should receive an e-mail stating that the student has been admitted and they should be receiving more information about their admission in the coming days via Graduate Admissions.
  • As early as possible, students who will receive financial support should receive notification.
    If there is an opportunity for visitation, let this be known as soon as possible.
  • Students who are awarded a fellowship should be notified quickly; this is most effective coming from a faculty member.
  • Continue follow up. Those who have not yet accepted their admission should be encouraged to do so. This could be done through the efforts of current graduate students, faculty, and/or staff.
  • After students have been admitted and accept their admission, consider continuing contact by supplying them with information those new to Ohio State and Columbus might need to know.

For additional information, contact Cyndi Freeman, director of Graduate Student Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives, (614) 247-6377.


Need help?

Contact staff members in the Graduate School using the staff directory, or call (614) 292-6031.

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