6 Ways to Make Sure You’re Visiting the Right Schools

darts at map

Recruiters, I want to ask you a serious question: Are you being smart about deciding which college campuses to visit? Now I’m sure you’re very intelligent, but are you being both strategic and thoughtful? Are you combining hard facts and figures with feelings?

Using your smarts means you plan your campus visits to maximize meaningful interactions, keep company stakeholders happy, and get the numbers of interns and new hires you want.

Sounds a little overwhelming, right?

That’s why we’re going to help you use some SMARTS to go about it.

S: Size of your team and budget

Start by taking stock of the size of your resources. How many people do you have on your team? What is your annual budget?

Once you know what you have to work with, you can start coming up with a more detailed plan.

Most big-time recruiters operate on a tier system, which means they break schools into different categories. These systems vary depending on the company, but in general, the higher the tier, the more interaction an employer will have with it.

For example, at your top-tier schools, you might participate in a corporate affiliate program, sponsor student groups, and attend multiple career fairs and info sessions a year. For middle-tier schools, perhaps you would attend one career or info session and do a little on-campus recruiting. And for the lowest tier, you might not participate in any events on campus, but you would still maintain a relationship with the career services office and post jobs directly with schools in that category.

Once you’ve outlined what your team numbers and budget look like, you can decide how many tiers you should have and how many schools should go into each tier.

How do you choose WHICH schools go into each tier? I’m so glad you asked. That brings us to the next point, which is…

M: Metrics

Ah, metrics. They can be both friend and foe to the recruiter, but let’s focus on how to make them your bestie.

If you’ve already done some on-campus recruiting, you (hopefully) have some numbers about things like how many events you attended, which schools you visited, how many students you interacted with, and how many of those students met your criteria. (If not, you’ll definitely want to start tracking those numbers as soon as you possibly can.)

You can use this information to decide whether it’s worth keeping the same schools in your top tier or if you should switch things up a bit. (More on that later.)

If you’re starting from scratch and just thinking about how to choose your tiers, you’ll want to consider which metrics will be most important to you and how you’ll measure them from here on out.

Consider the criteria that you’ll be evaluating from the schools, which can include things like:

  • Your desired majors and curriculum (Which programs are best aligned with your company’s needs?)
  • Geography (Is the school close to where your recruiters are based? Where you have open positions?)
  • Data you have from HR about where your most successful talent is coming from
  • Other factors like diversity of student population

Having the ability to look at your numbers and help them guide your decision is a key factor to approaching your campus visits with SMARTS, but it’s not the only factor. You’ll also want to be sure to employ a little…

A: Adaptability

It’s super important to keep in mind that your tiers of schools are not set in stone. Most employers re-evaluate their schools on a regular basis. This is not just to justify why a school should stay in the top tier (though that’s definitely part of it), but also to investigate new programs and majors and develop new relationships.

There’s a good chance that schools will contact you and ask you to include them in your recruiting efforts. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to visit every school that reaches out to you, but allowing for some adaptability in your planning means that you might be able to make it work occasionally.

Most companies take time once a year or every two years to re-evaluate their tiers and plan out their campus visits for the following year. If you’re going somewhere new, remember that it’ll take time to gather enough data to track your ROI for a particular school or event.

R: Relationships

While data and numbers are important, you can’t apply your SMARTS to college recruiting without taking relationships into account. There are a few different types of relationships that may influence your decisions, including:

  • Company executives or other stakeholders and their alma maters
  • Schools where the faculty and administrators are engaged and excited to help you
  • Career centers whose staff are involved and where you know you can make a big impact
  • Institutions or academic departments that have a close relationship with your company (perhaps as research partners or in some other capacity)

In some of these cases, you may not have the numbers to prove that your visit is worthwhile, but visiting will keep certain stakeholders happy (or make your job easier).

T: Tip the Scale

Before you get too far in the school selection process, you’ll want to perform a bit of competitive analysis. Find out which employers are already active on a particular campus and which recruiting activities they participate in.

This knowledge may influence you in two ways. On the one hand, you may choose to visit a campus even if you know your competitors will be there because the students at that school fit your criteria too closely to ignore them. Or, you might decide to pass on that school in favor of a smaller school where your competitors might not bother to go. It all depends on whether you’d like to be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond.

It’s also worth looking into getting involved with consortia. These will give you access to students from several institutions while not necessarily requiring more campus visits.

Anything to ensure your campus visits tip the scales in your favor!

S: Support

Finally, one of the most important ways you can display your SMARTS is by feeling comfortable asking for support when you need it.

When coming up with your recruiting plan, you’ll want to consider size, metrics, adaptability, and your potential to tip the scale in your favor. But that’s an awful lot to handle on your own. And even if you’ve figured out how to manage all those moving parts, how will you make sure that your campus visits are as successful as possible?

You don’t want to put all this time and effort into planning your campus visits and find them full of students who don’t meet your criteria—or even worse, no students at all.

That’s where AfterCollege comes in. We can help you advertise your events to the students and academic disciplines you want. Or if you’re still in the decision-making phase, we can help you determine which campuses and departments would make the most sense for you to visit. Just get in touch and see what we can do for you.

Now you’ve got the tools you need to make sure you’re using your SMARTS in your school selection and campus visits.

The next step: If you already have your school tiers chosen, think about which metrics you’ll use to measure the effectiveness of your visits and how you’ll monitor these. How often will you re-evaluate? If you’re still choosing your tiers, which of these factors will be most important in your decision?


2 Responses to “6 Ways to Make Sure You’re Visiting the Right Schools”

  1. Candice Conerly

    Nice article Melissa – these are common things to look at but they are certainly a nice reminder for me to re-focus me on what my goals should continue to be for 2015. Thank you!

    • Melissa Suzuno

      Hi Candice, thank you for your kind comment! Feel free to let us know if there are any topics you’d like us to cover in a future post!


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