With her passion for Northwestern Ontario and her training in marketing and information systems, Andrea Huillery (HBComm’01) is a vital addition to the Recruitment team at Lakehead University.
“I love talking to students about the experiences I had at Lakehead, and the experiences I know others have had,” she says.
Since 2005, Huillery has been working as part of a creative team to change the way Lakehead reaches out to prospective students. It’s being done by synergizing the use of traditional print publications and advertising with web technology and social media to enhance communication.
“Our job is to introduce students to the idea of Lakehead,” says Robert Perrier (BA/BEd’03), Manager of Undergraduate Recruitment, “and then show students how Lakehead can help them meet their individual goals. We involve faculty in the recruitment process as much as possible. It’s important that students get first-hand knowledge from their future professors; after all, it is the professors they will be spending time with for the next four years – not the Recruitment staff!”
This year, seven recruiters will travel thousands of kilometres, making individual school visits to over 650 schools in Ontario and across Canada. They will make presentations on what Lakehead has to offer, and answer questions on everything from academic program options to whether or not you can have a toaster in your residence hall room.
Robert Perrier BA/BEd'03
A one-week “boot camp” takes place every August so that Lakehead Recruiters may learn what is new in academic programming and student services
The big recruitment push takes place throughout the fall in preparation for the January deadline for accepting high school applications. Within a few short weeks, Lakehead will have reviewed over 11,000 applications – with over 4,000 from high school students, and another 7,000 from professional programs, mature students, internationals students, and transfer students.
Once the applications are reviewed – keeping in mind that prospective students are allowed to apply to up to three programs at each of Ontario’s universities – Lakehead University will extend its Offers of Admission. If all goes well, a good number of those Offers are accepted, and students actually arrive on campus to study, either at the Thunder Bay Campus or the Orillia Campus.
Recently, Lakehead University developed a new client management system that utilizes web technology to better engage prospective students and facilitate email communication.
Working with Lakehead University Webmaster Tove Tronslien, the Recruitment team has fashioned a website designed to capture the interest of everyone including high school students, international students, parents and families, and high school guidance counsellors. It allows staff to do a better job of communicating with students at every stage of their journey toward enrolling.
Lakehead even has an official presence on Facebook, which connects more than 1,018 “fans.” According to Robert Perrier, students have been posting photos, connecting with their future roommates, and arranging to buy used textbooks from each other.
Six years ago, Lakehead began the first of its annual awareness campaigns aimed at raising the profile of Lakehead University and attracting students in Southern Ontario.
“We had to be bold, to cut through all the media clutter and really connect with students and their parents in Southern Ontario,” says Director of Communications Eleanor Abaya. “With the help of a Toronto-based advertising agency, we developed a series of advertising campaigns that ran every fall in the Greater Toronto Area. The campaigns included transit posters and bus shelters, and videos were placed on cable television and in movie theatres.
The 2006 Yale/Shmale campaign that featured a black and white photo of George W. Bush attracted worldwide media attention and lots of feedback from Lakehead alumni – both positive and otherwise! The 2007 Do Something campaign positioned Lakehead as a leader on issues relating to war, poverty, social justice, and pollution.
The 2009 branding campaign showcases Lakehead alumni who are currently in positions of leadership and influence.
One of the ways Lakehead University can extend its reach is by including Lakehead alumni in the student recruitment process. That is just what Richard Longtin, Manager of Alumni Relations, is hoping to do. He and the Recruitment team are developing a program that will encourage alumni living across Canada to connect with prospective students – one-on-one and in groups.
Imagine you live in Saint John, New Brunswick, and are interested in doing graduate work in Forestry at Lakehead University’s Thunder Bay Campus. Through the Alumni Student Recruiter Program, the Recruitment team will soon be able to put you in touch with a Lakehead graduate living in your area.
“It’s a way to involve alumni that is really appealing to many of our grads,” says Richard Longtin (BA/HBA’07), “We’re tapping into the leadership skills, energy, and enthusiasm of those who have fond memories of their time at Lakehead.”
Indeed, Lakehead grads have a lot to offer, says Robert Perrier. “We just need them to self identify and to 'talk proud'’ about their experiences at Lakehead.
“Many people don’t understand what the Office of Recruitment does. At its core, it is about engaging each student in a conversation. We describe accurately and authentically what Lakehead University is and what it offers. Lakehead will not satisfy the needs of every student out there, nor is it expected to. But there are many students who will benefit from studying at Lakehead, and it’s our job to get through to them. After all, student retention is what counts. And retention starts with recruiting the right students."
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