More and more, prospective students are seeking out authentic experiences to get a better feel for the schools on their ‘apply’ or ‘inquire’ list. 

Your best salesman isn’t your tagline. It might not even be what you think your institution is known for.

To take your school’s recruitment process to the next level, you need to be involving current students. This grassroots involvement is beneficial on many levels for multiple parties. 

The Benefit for Current Students

First, it gives current students a sense of ownership and importance—they’re actively impacting the school’s trajectory. 

Let them not only feel like big fish, but become ones too. This is an area where smaller schools have an advantage over larger ones. It’s easier as an individual to affect change in a smaller pond; but no matter the size of your pond, you should be working to make everyone feel like they have the opportunity to make a splash.

Whether they’re giving tours, speaking at event panels, or creating content for your school, these students are learning real-world skills that will benefit them in their careers post-graduation. 

Once students realize they can make a difference, it might also encourage more students to get involved. More students = more resources for your admissions teams. 

Now you can have a diversity of student experiences, from athletics to the arts, STEM to Student Government, campus dwellers to commuters, to give you a better chance of finding a current student to match the profile of the prospective student you’re courting.

The Benefits for Prospective Students

Of course, this grassroots movement is also in service to prospective students. Rather than canned or generic responses, scrolling endlessly through rankings which may or may not hold weight, they get a more accurate sense of what it’s like to be a student at your college or university. 

Additionally, prospective students may interpret the eagerness of current students participating in the recruitment process as those who are proud of and excited about your school—those who truly believe in the school’s mission. 

Especially for current high schoolers wishing to be more involved in their college careers, seeing this can show them a direct pathway of how they can get involved and be a changemaker if they attend your institution. 

The Benefit to Your Admissions Team

The direct benefits are pretty clear, right? You’re more likely to see high counts across the board: inquiries, applications, completed apps, and yield. 

But in letting current students affect change, you’re also paying it forward. These students could be future leaders, successful alumni, and word-of-mouth marketers following graduation. 

Not only can you increase retention rates with this method, but you’re also setting yourself up for happy alums. 

An Institution Doing it Right: Lenoir-Rhyne University

What does this look like in practice? 

We want to highlight our partner school Lenoir-Rhyne University for the ways in which they take student involvement to the next level. 

We reached out to Dr. Leah Beth Hubbard, the AVP for Mission, Engagement and Innovation at Lenoir-Rhyne University, to learn more about Lenoir-Rhyne’s student-first practices. As of March 2024, Dr. Hubbard successfully defended her thesis and now holds a PhD in Strategic Leadership.

She points out a host of avenues at Lenoir-Rhyne for students to get involved in the recruitment process. 

“Students can become Bears of Distinction, which is what we call our tour guides. We have students engaging as tele-counselors, creating content in social media takeovers, and speaking at event panels.”

Additionally, LR students also have the opportunity to influence the direction of strategy. 

“We utilize student input on all recruitment marketing strategies; and seniors have the opportunity to serve as mini-admission counselors and are given territory based on specific affinity and provided recruitment goals,” says Hubbard. 

From participation in College Fairs to overseeing event sessions during Open House and Event Days, there’s a lot for students to get involved in at Lenoir-Rhyne. 

But more important than the what, says Hubbard, is the why

“Students are the why of what we do. No one can tell the story better. By training them as students, we are preparing the next group of admission counselors. Parents feel the authentic voice of LR instead of anything staged. Plus, it’s a great way to subsidize a small recruitment team, so we can do more with less.”

Exploring Recruitment Strategies with The Parish Group

Hopefully this blog gives you inspiration to enhance your recruitment strategy into one that’s student-centric, both current and prospective. 

But if you need a strategy brainstorming partner, The Parish Group is at your service. Our enrollment experts have served as Deans of Admissions across multiple campuses, and have a combined 100 years of enrollment experience. 

Reach out at or call our office at 828-505-3000 to learn more. 

Together we do BIG things.