We’ve all seen the groups of prospective students and their families touring campus with a backwards-walking Student Ambassador leading the way. But what may appear to be simply a tour is in reality a vital part of a student’s decision on which college to attend.
Our undergraduate visit programs welcome nearly 4,000 prospective students each semester, and campus visits are often the deciding factor in a student’s college choice. That’s why for undergraduate recruitment we’ve changed the student ambassadors program from a volunteer organization to one staffed by paid student employees, and why we work so hard to arrange for prospective students to meet with faculty members. These connections often mean the difference between a student becoming a Jayhawk or choosing to go somewhere else.
When it comes to the facts underpinning the college choice, we have a lot to be proud of. From the quality, breadth, and stature of our degree programs, to our experiential learning opportunities, to the amount of scholarships and financial aid we provide, KU offers students an opportunity for an outstanding education.
But the college choice isn’t based solely on facts and figures. Students must feel like they belong here. That’s the case whether a student is joining us straight from high school, is transferring from another institution, or is attending KU for a graduate or professional degree. Indeed, those interpersonal connections are even more important for graduate students given how closely they work with faculty mentors.
It’s vital that students are able see themselves as part of our community. Inclusiveness is a foundational value for KU, and diversity is expressed in many ways. University leaders and I have been meeting with students to discuss how we ensure that our recruitment efforts, as well as our academic programs and student support services, promote a sense of belonging and fully represent our community’s values.
I want to thank all of you who help students make the decision to be a Jayhawk. You’re part of a network that is literally global, and is assisted by the work of alumni volunteers.
But I also want to encourage each of you, regardless of your position at the university, to recognize that you play a role in recruitment. Whether it is by making time to meet with a prospective student interested in your area of study, or simply by greeting visiting families when they’re touring one of our campuses, you represent our community, and you can help students feel like they belong here.