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Recruitment gets a face lift

Prospective undergraduate Mills students are flipping through updated Mills literature, filling out qualifying interest cards, and receiving e-mails highlighting campus visiting days as part of a new move by the Office of Admission to update its recruitment process.

Most of these changes are recommendations taken from a report presented to Mills last November by a group of outside consultants. These consultants had been brought to Mills for a couple of days last October to work with admission officers, assisting the officers in thinking of new methods to recruit students.

While it is still too early to tell for certain whether the new recruitment methods are working, Joan Jaffe, Associate Dean of Admission, said that the Office of Admission is “very confident that [the methods are] going to be very successful.” Jaffe also said that the Office of Admission “feels strongly supported” by the Mills community in their new recruitment methods.

Not everyone in the Office of Admission was aware of the new methods. “I didn’t even know they changed,” said Nicole Baumhofer, a sophomore working in the office’s support staff.

Most of the new recruitment methods are aimed at better communication between Mills and prospective students. The Office of Admission “want[s] to be able to communicate with [prospective] students effectively,” Jaffe said. Already there seem to be more responses from the prospective students, particularly through the qualifying interest cards and e-mail, according to Jaffe.

Of particular prominence are the short questionnaires, called qualifying interest cards, being sent to prospective students. Baumhofer said she is in the process of mailing 17,000 cards. These cards ask prospective students to mark how interested they are in Mills (i.e. is Mills their first choice, in their top five, etc.) and whether they would like to come to the campus for a tour, attend a class, or stay overnight. If a student indicates that she is interested in visiting the campus, the Office of Admission gives her a call and arranges a time for her visit.

Jaffe said that the idea behind the qualifying interest cards is not totally new. Mills did the same thing a few years ago and, according to Jaffe, the response has always been quite good.

Admission officers are also taking steps to increase the amount of e-mail contact between Mills and prospective students. Broadcast e-mails notifying recipients of events occurring on campus, particularly student visiting days and overnight programs are sent out to roughly 5,000 prospective students.

Melissa Roberts, an admission officer, said the new recruitment methods help prospective students “build relationships with the admission officer [in charge] of her area.” Calls from students in Minnesota, for example, will be forwarded to Roberts since she is the officer in charge of that region. Also, Roberts will be the first to contact students in Minnesota, this way “students [will] have continuity in who they deal with,” Roberts said.

Such contact between admission officers and students is part of the college’s movement towards a territorial management model. “It’s not as if such a system didn’t exist before,” said Jaffe, “admission officers are assigned to specific territories [in which they focus their recruitment efforts].” The difference is that admission officers now have access to more information about the students in their territories thanks in part to a new computer system.

The new computer data system is able to give admission officers weekly reports, providing officers with information about students who have requested that information about Mills be sent to them. The data system provides the admission officers with an updated mailing list every week, allowing admission officers to quickly establish contact with prospective students.

In addition to sending out e-mails, Mills is also working on improving its website, making sure the website is interesting and offers a lot of variety so that prospective students will visit the site often and read about the events occurring at Mills.

Ramon Torrecilha, Vice President for Planning, Research and Multicultural Programs, said “the office of admissions [is re-designing their] web page to include class profile, recruitment information for high school counselors, territory assignments, PIN access to determine the status of each application, [and] student profiles.”

Some of the most important events that happen on campus, events specifically designed for prospective students, are the student visit day and overnight programs. Normally, only one visiting day is held in the fall semester and one in the spring. This year, however, Mills has decided to hold two overnight visit programs in the fall. The first to be held this fall will be on November 1-2 and the second November 12-13. In addition, each visiting day this fall will focus on a different academic region. The focus of the November 1-2 visiting day will be majors in the Natural and Social Sciences as well as a special focus on students of color. The November 12-13 visiting day will focus on the Humanities and Fine Arts.