Staff can play critical role in student retention

The service a staff member provides for a UCCS student or a potential UCCS student may be the difference in keeping that student here.

“Small things make a big difference,” said Chris Beiswanger, director, Student Recruitment and Admissions Counseling.

He was speaking at the Oct.14 Staff Council meeting to explain some of the university’s recruiting practices and tell staff how they can help.

Faculty members are not the only teachers at the university, Beiswanger said. Staff who work side-by-side with student aides and work-study students make a dramatic impact on them. Many in the group nodded in agreement as he continued. Even casual contact may make the difference, he said. The staffer that untangles a glitch that delayed a payment or caused some other difficulty for a student might become that stressed student’s hero and earn loyalty that lasts to graduation and beyond. By making contact and building relationships, UCCS staff can assist in retention, he said.

Telling the group about the traveling and tasks the recruiters perform, he said retention efforts were more easily blended into staff routines. Attending university events and volunteering for some of the on-campus activities is a way to establish and strengthen relationships with students.

Since not all staff can volunteer time to visit local high schools, participate in college fairs, or take part in other planned events, Beiswanger said, just taking the message out to the community during everyday errand-running or shopping activities can aid the recruitment/retention effort.

Talking to people and knowing what UCCS offers, he said is the key. Being able to tell the grocery clerk, bank teller or coffee shop waitress that UCCS has about 8,500 students or that the College of Business offers one of a handful of Professional Golf Management programs in the world might be of interest.

Someone who knows someone whose son or daughter is in high school might make use of facts like the average class size at UCCS is about 30 students or that the student to professor ratio here is about 22 to one.

Just about anyone from UCCS, including staff, can be ambassadors taking the university’s message off campus, Beiswanger said. With the value of recruitment and retention so vital to the campus these days, every effort counts. He urged all staff to see themselves in the role of representatives or ambassadors for the campus, and talk to members of the Colorado Springs community and beyond at every opportunity. He said information and quick facts may be found on the UCCS web site and that the recruitment office welcomed any staff visitors who have questions about what to say to the public.

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