Alumni Take an Active Role in University Recruitment

Sunday, December 15, 2013

For many alumni, their connection to the University doesn’t end at graduation. They enjoyed their experiences as students, and are grateful for the role that St. John’s continues to play in their lives.

One of the ways in which an ever-increasing number have chosen to show their pride in the University is by sharing it with potential students as members of the St. John’s Alumni Recruitment Team (START).

START is a volunteer-based program that is managed by the Office of Undergraduate Admission. It offers alumni an opportunity to be a part of the University’s future by engaging in the recruitment process of potential students, and also serves to strengthen the connection between the alumni and St. John’s.

“The START program is a way for our alumni to be involved with the University and also to act as reflections of the value of a St. John’s education,” said Samantha Hastler, Senior Associate Director of Admission. “Their presence at recruitment events allows them to share their personal stories as members of the University community, first as students and now as active alumni. It’s a powerful message that really resonates with potential students and their families.”

Alumni can participate as START volunteers in a number of ways. They can serve as St. John’s representatives at off-campus college fairs, either alone or in the company of a professional Admission Counselor, and provide both printed information and personal interaction with high school and transfer students who are considering applying to the University. They can add an alumni component at on-campus recruitment events, such as the Fall Open House and Spring Accepted Students Day.

Alumni from outside the greater New York metropolitan area can connect with incoming students in or near their hometown by attending geographically-based area receptions for accepted students. Although most area receptions are held in local restaurants and hotels, the program is always eager to hear from alumni volunteers who are interested in hosting events in their offices or homes.

In order to assist START volunteers, the Office of Admission has developed a training program to prepare them for the types of questions they can expect to encounter from potential students.

“At least once a semester we provide an opportunity for our alumni participants to come to an on-campus training session,” noted Hastler. “It’s usually in the evening and on weekends to try to make it as convenient as we can. We ask that if at all possible our alumni volunteers either attend the training session or train in person by going to a college fair or other event with an Admission professional. We also provide a START manual that has lots of quick facts and information that would be relevant for them to know in recruiting students. In the future we’re hoping to do several Webinar trainings for out-of-town alumni. It would be the same training that we do on campus, but we would be doing it electronically.”

Alumni have responded to the program with enthusiasm. More than 300 have already volunteered, and from all reports their experiences have been pleasant and satisfying.

Ashley Falzone ’10C enjoyed her time at St. John’s, and decided that becoming a START volunteer would be a good way to share her love for the University with future students who might one day follow in her footsteps. She frequently attends college fairs at high schools on Long Island, offering potential students a glimpse of what St. John’s is like through the eyes of a recent graduate.

Falzone strongly believes that alumni involvement adds a unique dimension to the overall recruitment process.

“I think it's very important for alumni to be involved in admission initiatives,” she said, “since as former students we have a different and more personal perspective on the University because we went there. We can really speak to what being a member of the St. John’s family is all about, and let potential students and their families see that we’re still connected even after we’ve graduated. I really enjoy being able to communicate with high school students about their goals, and tell them why St. John's would be a great choice for their college experience.”

Participating as START volunteer is a way for Geoffrey Sims ’83MBA to show his appreciation for what St. John’s did for him, both personally and professionally. He recognizes that alumni have a valuable perspective to add to the recruitment process, and is happy to do his part by sharing his story with future students.

“START is an excellent program which ultimately benefits both the student and the University,” he said. “I am glad to contribute as I am a huge fan of St. John's, and fully recognize and appreciate how important the school has been to my career success."

To learn more about becoming a START volunteer, contact Samantha Hastler, Senior Associate Director of Admission, at (718) 390-4327 or e-mail hastlers@stjohns.edu