How to Attract Top Students and Make Your Company Look Awesome

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Pop quiz: When should you start to engage students in your on-campus recruiting efforts?

A) April of their senior year in college

B) Fall of their senior year in college

C) Spring of their junior year in college

D) As early as possible!

The answer is… drum roll… D! In order to compete against big-name companies (and everyone else who knows what college recruiting is all about), you want to get involved with students as early as possible in their college career. Mary Scott, President of Scott Resource Group says “[a] problem arises when employers don’t understand the lifecycle of the college recruiting year. You can’t just show up in April and expect to hire the so-called ‘best and brightest.’”

Freshman or sophomore year may not even be soon enough—some companies start interacting with students before they’ve even started college to have a hand in influencing what they major in.

So how can YOU start engaging students early enough in their college careers to make a difference? One simple way is by offering scholarships.

There are a few reasons why scholarships are such an effective tool for attracting students.

  • Money is awesome, especially when you don’t have much (this applies to pretty much any college student, ever)
  • Participating in scholarships gives your company street cred as socially conscious (an important factor for students, especially millennials/Gen Yers/whatever you want to call the youth of today)
  • You get to promote community awareness and an aura of inclusion, which is just great PR in general
  • You can target scholarships to specific class years, majors, and groups, so you’ll get the attention of the students you really want

Now that we’ve established that scholarships are an excellent tool for building your brand on campus and catching students early in their careers, let’s take a look at a few specific examples.


Xerox offers Minority Scholarships of amounts from $1,000 to $10,000 to qualified minorities enrolled in technical degree programs at the bachelor level or above. All the information about these scholarships is located in the Student Center section of the Xerox website, so these scholarships are marketed specifically to students who are thinking about careers at Xerox.


Microsoft offers four types of scholarships: General, Women’s, Minority, and Scholarships for Students with Disabilities. Scholarships may cover some or all of a student’s tuition expenses and are open to full-time students pursuing degrees in computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical discipline like electrical engineering, math, or physics.

One interesting feature of the Microsoft Scholarship program is that recipients are required to apply to Microsoft internships during the summer (but Microsoft reserves the right to turn them down if they can’t find a place for them). If you already have an internship program in place, would it make sense for you to add similar stipulations to your scholarships?

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente offers $2,000 Health Care Career Scholarships to high school seniors who intend to pursue a career in health care. Scholarship recipients can also re-apply during their junior year of college. Offering scholarships to students who are still in high school gives an employer a chance to influence students’ choice of major and career path. If you’re looking for ideas on how to actually award scholarships and promote them to future applicants, be sure to check out the videos on KP’s scholarships page.

The next steps:

You’ve read our arguments, you’ve looked at a few examples, and you think it makes sense to pursue scholarships as part of your recruiting strategy. Awesome. So what should you do next?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • See if your company already offers scholarships as part of your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. If so, you may be able to just promote these to students without starting an entirely new scholarship program from scratch.
  • Perform a competitive analysis. Look at other companies in your industry and see what types of scholarships they offer, who they offer them to, and what sort of timeline they work with.
  • Look at a calendar and work backward to come up with your timeline. For example, do you want scholarship application deadlines to coincide with campus visits? If so, you’ll need to spend time planning how long it will take to set up the rules, get a panel of judges, collect application materials, etc.
  • Think about how you’ll get the word out there about your scholarships. Do you have social media accounts, campus brand ambassadors, or connections with faculty or student groups? Be sure to consider and involve all the resources you have.

P.S. If it all feels too overwhelming, don’t worry. AfterCollege can help you promote and administer scholarships. We take care of all the administrative details, but you’ll still be able to do all the fun stuff like review the applications and choose the winners (if you want to). Want to learn more? Visit our Scholarships Info page.


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