November 30, 2011

New online guide aids recruitment, retention of minority graduate students

The emails. The phone calls. The personal visits from graduate students and faculty. The campus visit. The follow-up notes. The application. The interview. And, finally, the offer. Followed by…the acceptance.

Recruitment season for graduate programs is upon us. And, as part of that, graduate programs across campus will launch the search for — and wooing of—the best and brightest college students here at the UW and across the country. Competition for the most promising students, particularly those from ethnically diverse backgrounds or from underrepresented minority groups, is intense. But how does a department increase its pool of diverse applicants?  What information should a faculty member provide in a follow-up email to a student she met at a conference?

To help answer these questions and cover best practices for recruiting and retaining minority graduate students, Graduate Opportunities & Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP) has developed an online guide.

“As part of the UW Graduate School, GO-MAP has been leading minority graduate recruitment and retention efforts for the UW for more than 40 years, and we thought the online guide would be a great way to share our expertise, and that of faculty and staff across campus,” said Cynthia Morales, director of GO-MAP. “We gathered best practices from graduate program advisers, faculty and administrators involved in diversity recruitment and retention. Organized into categories of outreach, admissions, recruitment and retention, this online resource gives departments a view of various strategies that departments across campus are utilizing. We think that it is important to share this information so that departments can learn from each others successes.”

A suggested recruiting calendar gives timeframes for each step of the recruiting process and lists dates and links for major conferences of student groups such as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

The guide includes printable fact sheets on graduate study at the UW and a handout on how undergraduates and high school students can start planning now for graduate school. Departments may print and distribute these materials to prospective students. Also posted are scripts for emails and phone conversations, which faculty and staff can use when contacting prospects.

One of the best resources for finding prospective graduate students with minority backgrounds is the National Name Exchange, a web-based portal that the UW Graduate School developed and maintains using a $100,000 grant from Intel. The exchange lists the names, academic interests and contact information of promising minority undergraduates from more than 50 institutions nationwide. Through the name exchange, UW graduate programs have access to information on more than 7,000 minority students interested in pursuing graduate school.

“GO-MAP also will arrange for current graduate students to talk to prospective students, even if they are in different fields of study,” Morales said. “It helps prospective students to know that the UW is a welcoming place and that, once here, they will be able to connect with other students and feel a sense of community.”

Do you have suggestions for recruiting and retaining minority graduate students? Questions about the guide? Email gomap@uw.edu. For more information on minority enrollment in UW graduate programs, refer to the UW Graduate Schools recent Diversity Report.