Admissions starts new initiatives
By Ester Cross, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, October 26, 2012
To improve outreach, the Admissions Office has recently instituted two new initiatives — an academic spotlight program and a “Coast to Coast” tour partnership with several other institutions. The office has also expanded its international recruitment efforts and revamped its message to prospective students about the benefits of a Dartmouth education.
The three-year pilot series of academic spotlight programs aims to highlight specific areas of the College’s academic and co-curricular opportunities for prospective students, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris.
“That’s probably the newest set of initiatives we have developed this fall to really focus the spotlight a bit on some really exciting programs and initiatives that are happening on campus in a more direct way rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to the campus visit,” she said.
Visiting students and their families learned about the College’s sciences and arts offerings during the E.E. Just Symposium, which took place Sept. 27-29, and the Hopkins Center’s 50th Anniversary Weekend, which took place Oct. 12-14.
Admissions Office intern Jessica Womack ’14, who helped provide social programming for prospective students visiting the College during the E.E. Just Symposium, said that prospective students benefited not only from the opportunity to listen to science professors and researchers, but also from hearing from students majoring in the sciences. Womack also helped organize a career panel of professors and administrators involved in various scientific fields.
“I think when a person comes in to visit the College, they get an idea of Dartmouth, but they may not necessarily get a comprehensive idea of Dartmouth with regards to their own personal interests,” Womack said. “I think these are the types of programs that are able to showcase very well a specific area of Dartmouth.”
Admissions Office intern Clark Moore ’13 helped organize the Hopkins Center 50th Anniversary programming for prospective students, including information sessions, tours and panels with faculty members in the arts.
Moore said that while the Upper Valley is not the same cultural hub of artistic expression as New York City, the College’s visual and performing arts departments are comparable to those of its peer institutions. Through the Year of the Arts programming, the Admissions Office highlighted the opportunities that Dartmouth’s arts departments offer, Moore said.
The third event in the series, focusing on the Rockefeller Center and Dartmouth’s history of graduates in the public policy arena, will be hosted Nov. 9-11.
“It seemed like a nice time, particularly as it’s coming after the national election, to talk about the wonderful resources and opportunities for students that Rocky provides,” Laskaris said. “We also talk about the fact that Dartmouth — every four years — is in the national spotlight, as all the presidential candidates and presidential hopefuls make their way through campus.”
All three events are hosted during holiday weekends when the number of visiting students and families increases dramatically.
The Coast to Coast tour was started last fall with Princeton University, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University and the University of California, Berkeley. The schools travel to various cities around the country and hold presentations about each institution. Traveling and presenting with the other universities allows each of the recruiters to reach a broader audience of prospective students, Assistant Director of Admissions Brian Estrada said.
“We are not going after a larger applicant pool per se, but we do think we can reach the right students and the most talented students when we pool our efforts, and possibly reach students who are actually really well matched to Dartmouth but just didn’t have the exposure to information about the College to make that determination,” Estrada said.
The consortium of universities traveled to 14 cities last fall, nine cities last spring and 15 cities this fall.
The Admissions Office also often makes international recruitment trips on behalf of the College with a group of colleges and universities in the Ivy League, as well as with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. International recruitment travel has increased in the last two years following a drop in the wake of the College’s Strategic Budget Reduction and Investment initiative instituted in 2009, Estrada said.
Laskaris said that the Admissions Office is anticipating making its first formal recruitment trip to Africa as early as next spring. The Admissions Office made a major trip to Asia last spring and visited Latin America for the first time in several years this fall, according to Estrada.
Admission recruiters tweaked the message they present to prospective students during this year’s admissions cycle to focus on the College’s teaching quality as one of its greatest strengths, Estrada said.
“An emphasis this year has been positioning our faculty as being world-class,” he said. “Dartmouth is a major institution, and the kinds of people who come to teach at Dartmouth are incredibly accomplished scholars.”
Estrada said that the College’s current emphasis on academic and co-curricular programs helps to show prospective students that they can pursue their passions in the sciences and performing and visual arts not only at a sciences or arts focused school, but also in a liberal arts college with world-class faculty.
Building class diversity remains a major focus of recruitment efforts, as students accepted to the College continue to indicate diversity and a rural campus setting as reasons they choose to matriculate elsewhere, according to Estrada.
Estrada added, however, that diversity and a rural setting are strengths of the campus, which the Admissions Office emphasizes to prospective students.
“We want to make sure that we are proactively positioning Dartmouth as a really diverse, high-powered institution that happens to be in a setting unlike almost any other institution that shares both characteristics,” he said.