Going Where the Future Students Are
Published on November 12, 2009
Bauer College Presence Easy to Find in Houston Area High Schools
In the fall, school spirit runs high at the University of Houston as football games, homecoming and familiar traditions usher in the season’s first cool, crisp nights. With school spirit at its peak, the fall months also mark the busiest undergraduate recruiting season for C. T. Bauer College of Business as Bauer pride makes its way to local Houston-area high schools.
For the first time, the Office of Undergraduate Business Programs at UH Bauer joined the University of Houston to recruit prospective business students at high school college fairs. The outreach is part of a bigger effort to attract the best and the brightest applicants and increase brand name recognition of Bauer College.
Bauer’s Assistant Director for Student Outreach Leslie Thornhill says college fairs play a vital role in shaping a prospective student’s opinion of a university. At the events, she says, students who are interested in business look for schools whose programs are well-recognized – like McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas or Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.
“Reputation is everything,” Thornhill says. “In order to compete on par with McCombs or Mays for these students’ attention, we are amplifying our presence on high school campuses.”
This includes everything from advertising in the hallways of the school to getting involved at a grassroots level with student organizations like Future Business Leaders of America.
Bauer College is one of few business schools in Texas to have its own break-out table at the college fairs. Bauer travels with the University to high-achieving schools including Westside High School, Lamar High School and Bellaire High School in Houston, as well as the outlying districts of Katy ISD, Fort Bend ISD and Spring Branch ISD, to name a few.
When it comes to choosing a college among all the choices, today’s students are smart shoppers. According to Thornhill, many already know where they want to go and what they want to major in by their junior year.
Compared to other business schools in Texas, she says, Bauer has one inimitable advantage – its location. Accessibility to internships is a major benefit for Bauer students.
“Living and going to school in Houston Metro, you have so many opportunities that other students don’t,” Thornhill says. “It’s not uncommon to see a student dressed in a suit for class because he has to be at an internship with Chevron or another Fortune 500 company later that afternoon.”
A major challenge that undergraduate business programs faces is reaching what they call the “stealth applicant” – a student who researches and applies on his or her own without ever having personal contact with the college.
It’s not uncommon in today’s consumer-driven market, and with the proliferation of research available through the internet and social networks, it’s unlikely this type of behavior will change.
Instead, the Office of Undergraduate Business Programs is changing its approach. It recently received an upgraded website for prospective students and is promoting self-guided tours through the concierge desk in Melcher Hall.
Another service available to prospective students is a new class visitation program where professors open their doors to student visitors. Students can access a list of available times online and simply show up for a class of their choice; they don’t even have to make an appointment.
“Students know what they want in a business school, and they want to shop for it on their own terms,” Thornhill says. “If we’re going to attract the best and the brightest, we have to know where they are and be there when they’re ready.”
By Lori Reichardt