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StARs shine light on college life for potential students

August 14, 2008

A group of six students at Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs are using new media in unique and creative ways to recruit students.

The students are in the Student Ambassador for Recruitment program, or StAR, which provides them an unedited student voice as they work in concert with staff recruiters to assist in the recruitment and retention process.

This is the first and only program of its kind at ASU. It’s among only a handful of similar social-media-focused recruitment programs across the nation, including Cornell University.

The StARs each have an interactive blog linked through the college’s Web site, and they frequently answer e-mails from potential students who have concerns and questions about student life at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. The team members also make videos for YouTube to show examples of what they’re learning and how much fun it is to take classes at the college.

“This generation of students has always interacted through new media. The days of recruiting at a table in a high school are done,” says StAR student Samuel Richard.

Since the program began in January 2008, freshman enrollment has increased at units within all three schools at the college. For example, freshman enrollment more than doubled this academic year in the Nonprofit & Leadership Management Program.

Among the team’s biggest successes is the recruitment of a student who was accepted to Harvard and Yale but chose to enroll at ASU in the College of Public Programs based partly on the personal connection she felt with the StARs, who traveled to Tucson to meet her in person before she made her decision.

Some college recruits have merged organically, because they knew friends of friends on the StARs’ Myspace and Facebook pages.

The StARs represent each of the schools within the college: the Schools of Social Work, Public Affairs, and Community Resources & Development. They primarily write about their perspectives on being a College of Public Programs student and voice their opinions on issues they face as students. Topics on their blogs primarily are related to their academic major.

The StARs include Elenia Sotelo and Edward Jensen, Urban & Metropolitan Studies majors; Candi Henriquez and Samuel Richard, Nonprofit Leadership & Management majors; Amarone Thach, Tourism Development & Management major; and Kirsten Martin, Social Work major.

“You’re getting an almost real-time perspective from students who are in the college and in the programs that potential students are interested in,” says Jensen.

Richard is quick to point out that social media is a great vehicle to meet potential students, but is just one step in developing an overall relationship.

“The Internet and social media are one piece of a larger puzzle that leads to a more holistic recruitment experience,” says Richard. “It’s not only about Myspace, and it’s not only about tabling high school campuses. The magic happens somewhere in between.”

The StAR Web site includes a guide for new students, a calendar of events, and a “Downtown 411” section in which the students offer reviews of local restaurants and suggestions of unique places to visit near the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus.

The StAR Web site is located at For information about the StAR program, contact Dena Frei at (602) 496-0411 or