As J. Leon Washington
explains, student recruitment is becoming an increasingly complex mix of local, national, and global outreach.
How a college pursues one group
of students may affect how it can serve another.
Mr. Washington is dean of admissions and financial aid at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pa., which has long drawn most of its students from the Northeast.
Over the past five years, however, the university has perused projections and revamped its recruitment plan.
"There's not panic or anything," he
says, "but there's been a change in attitude in how we work day to day."
"They have their finger right on the pulse," Mr. Washington
In California, for instance, feedback from such organizations drove home an important lesson to Lehigh
: If it wanted to recruit more Hispanic students, it had to engage their parents.
That meant talking about financial aid in Spanish, even with families who also spoke English, Mr. Washington
offers information sessions in Spanish both on and off the campus.
Attracting more students from across the country takes time.
This year about two dozen of Lehigh's 1
,200 freshmen came from the Golden State, up from just a handful five years ago.
It's progress, Mr. Washington
says, but also an endeavor that requires much planning, effort, and money.
The same is true of international recruitment, widely viewed as a safety net that can protect against shortfalls in enrollment and revenue.
Advocates for low-income students are wary of the global-recruitment boom; they worry about colleges' giving more and more seats to students from other countries instead of to underrepresented applicants from the United States.
But the equation is more complicated than that, Mr. Washington
explains, and it's up to him to balance it.
"Two full-freight-paying students," he says, "allow us to fund more heavily a domestic student with greater need."