4 Ways Small Colleges Can Attract More Diverse Applicants 1

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While every school strives to have as much enrollment as they reasonably can, that goes double for small colleges. Large universities attract a greater percentage of state and federal funding, forcing many smaller colleges to rely more heavily on tuition and fees to make up the difference. In a perfect world, this would mean a diverse student body with people from all walks of life, but it does exclude people that are socioeconomically disadvantaged by its very nature.

For that reason, it can be difficult to attract applicants to a smaller school that are truly diverse, but far from impossible. Here are four ways small colleges can embrace diversity and create a more eclectic student body.

Offer Scholarships of Different Kinds

As Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it’s stupid.” Everyone has a talent to offer, no matter what background they come from, so by creating scholarships for potential students from all walks of life, you attract students from every background.

You could give a scholarship to people majoring in a very specific field, or offer one to those who have gone through an ESL program, such as those at the Interactive College Of Technology, and passed the TOEFL exam, for starters.

Conduct Community Outreach

For many students, an education at a small college may seem out of reach due to the perception of high fees and strict admission requirements. As a result, some may feel that they simply are not “good enough” to be a member of a smaller school. By creating programs that bring the college to the students, even as young as elementary school, you create an attachment within the child that makes them grow up wanting to attend your college.

Offer Something for Free

When Texas A&M University—Commerce in Commerce, TX wanted to boost enrollment in their graduate courses, they did something that many schools would frown upon: offer free tuition. This wasn’t open to everyone—just those who were primary and secondary teachers—but enough people took them up on it that it shifted the demographics of the classes dramatically, creating a new crop of students from all over the area eager to learn, and many of whom graduated.

Change the Local Culture

With the advent of social media, everyone is becoming more conscious of their reputation, colleges included. Use this to your advantage by creating a distinct culture that appeals to a wide variety of students, such as “going green” or offering unusual extracurricular activities. You may not have the powerhouse football team in a larger school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an identity that attracts people from all over the place.

It’s easy for a smaller school to feel intimidated by the massive enrollment numbers and varied student body of larger, division one colleges, but there’s nothing besides the numbers that a smaller school can’t emulate. By capitalizing on your assets and bringing the experience to students’ doorsteps, you can generate a steady flow of students from every corner of the world that are eager to join your ranks.


Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can follow her on twitter and LinkedIn.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

One comment

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