Emphasizing Graduate Recruitment

Several departments we’ve worked with recently have told us they want to emphasize graduate recruitment on their sites. eTech can help by building navigation and features that make it easy to access information targeting prospective graduate students, but a robust recruitment effort requires specific — and in many cases new — content. We offer the following recommendations as a starting point for producing that content.

How soon can I do this?

If your department’s website is up for a redesign within the next three months, great! We encourage you to start writing content, collecting alumni data and news, talking to your current grad students about their experiences in your program, and thinking about photo opportunities. Do these things now, so we can incorporate the new content into the site.

If you’ve got at least one recruiting season before your next redesign, look for ways to make meaningful changes to your existing site. While we can’t build new features to accommodate new content, we can still help. When the new content is ready to publish, we’ll be happy to offer suggestions for incorporating it effectively into your existing site.

What can I do right now?

1. Make sure your website is up to date.

Look for places where you’ve mentioned deadlines or used faculty members’ names and contact information. Are those deadlines current? Are those faculty members still around? Has their contact info changed?

Check your links. From the Dashboard, open up the Broken Links tool to see whether any of your links have busted, paying particular attention to links prospective grad students are likely to click (Graduate School pages, financial aid information, catalog sections).

Review your faculty, staff, and grad student listings to make sure everybody’s included.

2. Look for places to expand or improve content.

Review the UA Graduate School’s recommendations, which are provided with tips for implementing them.

If your site doesn’t already have one, create a “Prospective Graduate Students” page.

Think about your graduate program: What’s its appeal? Why should students choose UA over similar programs?

Look at printed materials you’ve used in recruiting. Do they communicate messages that aren’t presented on your website? Could those messages be incorporated into your site?

Start collecting and organizing student and alumni success stories. These make great news posts, but you can also just group them on a page.

Consider adding descriptions of recurring events, professional development opportunities, and other extracurriculars involving grad students. Emphasize department life beyond the classroom or lab, in other words.

Start taking photos of faculty and grad students in action (in labs, in classrooms, in the field), or contact eTech to arrange an appointment with a photographer. Put out a call to your faculty and staff asking for photos they’ve taken in their research, in classes or labs, or at departmental social activities.

Encourage faculty who do not have portraits in their faculty profiles to provide them or have them taken. eTech’s appointment scheduler, Microsoft Bookings, lets faculty schedule photos at convenient times and locations. The Division of Strategic Communications’ photography office offers twice-monthly walk-in portrait sessions; these are advertised on calendar.ua.edu. We can also set up a block of time for an eTech photographer to come to your department (or another location) so faculty can drop in to have their photos taken; this approach works best when a department has several people who want photos taken.

3. Freshen up your news and events.

Keep your site’s events calendar full so that prospective students can get a sense of what’s going on in your department.

Add more news posts to your site. These could come from your department newsletter, press releases written by the A&S Dean’s Office or the UA news bureau, or other sources. If you have several stories, consider staggering their publication dates so they’ll appear on the site over time rather than in one big clump. This will make your news widget or page look fresh until you have time to add more.

Urge your faculty to update their profile pages and, if they have them, their personal/lab websites. Instruct them to pay particular attention to research interests, current research projects, and publications. Prospective grad students are curious about these things.

If your site has a publications feature, ask your faculty to submit items for it.