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Alma Mater Project a Promising Recruitment Tool

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Photo Credit: Catawba.edu, Sarah Friedman

Left: Catawba College logo. Right: Sarah Friedman, bringing back the Alma Mater Project to admissions.

Sydney Smith, Editor
February 4, 2013
Filed under Top Stories

For a while, Catawba College’s admissions department supported an initiative involving sending current Catawba students to their high schools, church groups, and other social groups to talk about being a Catawba student. No gimmicks, no advertising — just real college students telling younger students about their real experiences and lives at Catawba.

Sadly, this promising admissions program fell by the wayside when Erin Phillips, the original creator of this program, left Catawba. However, admissions counselor Sarah Friedman decided it was time to bring it back for 2012-2013. Thus far, the program has been a successful and rewarding experience for participating Catawba students.

After asking faculty to choose articulate, interesting students, admissions sent the students off to their hometowns with a simple mission: tell these kids about Catawba College from an honest, candid perspective. Although it’s called the “alma mater” project, admissions counselors encouraged the students to think beyond just their old high schools and consider visiting church groups, scout groups, and other clubs they may have been involved with during their high school years.

There weren’t any strict guidelines for what to say or how to say it when visiting the schools and groups. The students were given some freedom in how they chose to present their Catawba experiences. Some students created booths and posters for college fair events, others spoke to larger groups, and some chose a one-on-one conversation approach.

The best part of this program is the honest stories and reviews about college life at Catawba the current students give. Above any e-mails, websites, and promotional events, hearing a real, live Catawba student tell about their extraordinary experiences and day-to-day routines at the college bring the experience alive.

When going out to the schools, the students typically focused their conversations with prospectives about how much they loved the professors and how great the opportunities are at the college. Even though Catawba is a small school, students emphasize not only how great the opportunities are, but also how many there are. To be as small as it is, Catawba offers tons of exciting, fresh chances for students to get involved and try something new, such as study abroad, clubs, RA training, volunteer work, classroom excursions, work study, and leadership positions, just to name a few.

Besides the alma mater project, many other admissions efforts around campus keep the focus on current students’ perspectives. For example, Junior Admissions Representatives, or JARs, are responsible for making direct contact with Catawba applicants, encouraging them to be excited about coming to college. Also, Catawba Guides take prospective students on tours around campus, telling them about the history of the college and the current events taking place here.

Although this school year is the first time this program has been tried since Phillips’ efforts, Friedman hopes to see it return and flourish in the coming years. She thinks having the real college students on the front lines of programs like the Alma Mater Project is a great way to really reach prospectives. “As an office, we are so excited to work with current students,” said Friedman.

For more information about the Alma Mater Project, feel free to e-mail Sarah Friedman at sfriedma@catawba.edu.

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