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Integrating Recruiting into the First Year Experience: An Opportunity to Boost Enrollment and Retention

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

First-Year Programs (FPD) Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.779.1 - 23.779.14



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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Anne Stephan Clemson University

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Dr. Elizabeth Stephan is a faculty member in the General Engineering program at Clemson University. She earned B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Akron, and worked as a production engineer at Dow Chemical in Traverse City, Mich. She is the district director for Tau Beta Pi and
Chief Advisor for SC Alpha Chapter of Tau Beta Pi.

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Edward Randolph Collins Jr. P.E. Clemson University

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Dr. Edward "Randy" Collins is an associate dean of the College of Engineering and Science at Clemson University, and a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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Chris Porter Clemson University

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Integrating Recruiting into the First Year Experience: An Opportunity to Boost Enrollment and RetentionAll undergraduate engineering students at a comprehensive southeastern Land-Grant Institutionbegin their studies in the General Engineering (GE) program. The GE Program introducesstudents to engineering from both an academic and a professional prospective. Engineeringstudents are required to complete a first-year curriculum, which includes two engineeringcourses, before moving into their intended engineering major. One key objective of the programis to give students time to decide on a major and provide resources to aid in this decision.The process of career exploration begins during recruiting of prospective students. GE and theOffice of Undergraduate Recruitment (OUR) work closely together to recruit and enroll highcaliber students. GE and OUR present a weekly college tour program for prospective studentsand their families. The program has proven effective, and has aided overall student recruitmentand enrollment. In the past few years, while SAT scores in the United States have remainedstagnant, GE has seen scores rise from an average of 1266 in Fall 2008 to 1287 in Fall 2012.During the same time period, GE enrollment has increased by 54%.In the first semester engineering course, the GE program works closely with all engineeringdepartments to provide students with classroom guest speakers and a small group touropportunity to meet the faculty and upperclassmen and tour the facilities. In Fall 2011, over 100small group tours of the engineering major departments were offered for students. Theparticipation rate was high, with over 74% of the students attended two or more tours and anadditional 18% attended a single tour. Student survey data indicates the departmental tours arethe number one deciding factor students use when choosing a major.The engineering departments are involved in the planning and execution of all tours. Thedepartments are essentially recruiting twice: once, when the student is in high school and again,after the student in enrolled in the GE program. The curriculum of the first year is determinedwith input from the departments to provide a single class to meet the academic needs for allengineering disciplines, and is reviewed annually. The result is a strong, integrated curriculumwhere the skills students learn as freshman are tightly tied to their success at the upper division.The result is an increase in freshman-to-sophomore year retention. The retention of studentsremaining in engineering in the second year has increased from 66% in 2003 to 82% in 2011.The four-year retention rate has increased by 19% between 2003 and 2009. Student choice ofmajor is significantly impacted during the GE program. Data analysis demonstrates only about40% of the students choose the major they initially intended. Further, the change of majors oncethe major is initially declared is quite low. For example, retention in ____ engineering is 90%from sophomore to senior year. This indicates students are making wise choices regarding theirmajor, which has considerable impact on time-to-completion and financial implications.An overview of the recruitment – first-year – major discipline integration process and the directimpact on retention and graduate rates for all engineering disciplines will be discussed. Theimpact of the tours, both recruiting and during the first year, on student choice of major, will behighlighted in the analysis.

Stephan, E. A., & Collins, E. R., & Porter, C. (2013, June), Integrating Recruiting into the First Year Experience: An Opportunity to Boost Enrollment and Retention Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19793

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