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4 Tips to Build a Solid High School Outreach Program

Most high school students want to go to college. Most financial aid and other higher education officials want to interest students in their programs. If you smell a win-win situation, you’re right!

As a financial aid director or other higher ed institution official, if you play your hand right, you can help everyone get what they want. By partnering with local high schools and reaching out to students in your area, you can educate kids on the skills necessary to successfully apply to college, receive financial aid and attend. Below we’ve outlined some simple steps you can take.

1. Have a Home Base

Start close to home. Set up a page on your website where high school students and their parents can come to find information about your outreach and recruitment efforts, like this one from Pierce College. That way, when students are considering you, they can find contact information, schedules, important application deadlines and more. As a bonus, having a detailed website with lots of information helps you reach students who aren’t in your area, potentially widening your reach and broadening your pool of applicants.

2. Visit Area High Schools

Take a page out of West Valley College’s book and conduct a variety of high school outreach workshops. They visit nearby schools and lead talks about college life, how to plan an academic schedule, how to take college classes as a high school student, and how to sign up for assessment tests and attend orientation. While they are at the school, they also encourage students to set up a time to visit the college and tour it with their parents.

3. Provide Campus Tours

This leads us to campus tours, an important way to introduce students to your university and give them a feel for college life before they arrive. Set up regular tours so high school students have a range of times to choose from, then advertise these tours in your high school workshops and on your website’s high school outreach page. If you want to give out-of-town students a chance to view your institution realistically, consider investing in an interactive photorealistic campus map, which helps kids tour your entire institution without leaving their home town. Isn’t technology great?

4. Get the Word Out About Financial Aid

The Department of Education works hard to provide financial aid resources and outreach advice so educators can prepare students for higher education. Although much of this advice is targeted toward high school officials, you can either use it to tailor a program of your own or you can reach out to high school officials ahead of time to offer to be the college or university presence at their financial aid outreach programs.

If you’ve followed the steps above, chances are you now have a solid presence at high schools in your area. This will increase the number of students who apply, and therefore your enrollment. Perhaps more importantly, providing financial aid and college life information will also increase the caliber of students who attend your school, as they are more likely to stay and be successful.