Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Ideas and Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Groups of Students in Early Intervention Training Programs

Pip Campbell, from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and Brian D. Hurwitz, with New Jersey City University presented Ideas and Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Groups of College Students at the winter 2000 OSEP NECTAS Annual meeting in Washington, DC. Both have been recipients of OSEP-funded personnel preparation grants to recruit, retain and train early intervention personnel from diverse groups.

Providing tuition support is necessary to increase the diversity among students in college and university programs for early intervention training, however tuition support alone is NOT sufficient. Successful programs are ones that provide ongoing, consistent and meaningful support, in addition to tuition assistance.

Key to the success of these programs was that they created Learning communities where the unique strengths of the students are appreciated. Each student feels valued. Equal opportunity for all students means, "going the extra mile" for everyone.

Here are the lessons that the presenters shared with the audience about recruiting and retaining diverse students whoare interested in working in early intervention programs.

Recruiting Lessons:

  • Recruitment is easier than retention!
  • Become part of the college marketing program
  • Communicate with admissions personnel about the students you wish to recruit
  • Get currently enrolled minority students involved as "recruiters" and ask them to speak at high schools and meet with students at " open house" or during campus tours.
  • Contact high school guidance counselors for recommendations
  • Provide opportunities to experience the professions-allow college students to spend a day at work to experience what goes on before they decide if they want to be in the field
  • Pick students based on their interest in the profession rather than GPA or SAT, etc.
  • Focus on recruiting students who have completed their freshman year in college
  • Recruit through community colleges
  • Recruit through established sources such as (university cultural affairs offices)

Lessons learned about retaining students in college programs once they are enrolled:

  • Create a welcoming environment
  • Students always welcomed and greeted with a smile
  • Students provided with an attractive space to wait, study, chat and hold meetings
  • Students have access to coffee maker, microwave and refrigerator
  • Advisement is always prompt and courteous
  • Candy, snacks and gumballs machine available
  • Job announcements are posted
  • Tell the students that you appreciate them
  • Decorations for the department
  • When appropriate, students have access to copy machine
  • Support or "enrichment" meetings provide a time to share concerns about coursework, field experiences, and schedules; discuss topics of interest in special education and to provide administrative information (graduation, internships, etc.)
  • Mentorship by community members and professionals, more experienced and/or former students
  • Emphasizing diversity in Coursework by adding new courses such as " Multicultural issues in special education", "Working with families from diverse backgrounds" or by adding multicultural elements to existing courses
  • Ongoing reinforcement in the form of awards, social gatherings with families and community mentors
  • Advisement and monitoring- student centered monitoring of progress and grades so that opportunities may be provided to alter situations that may not be going well
  • Provide access to resources such as financial aid, writing clinics, counseling, and tutorials
  • Conduct surveys to find out what the students find supportive and determine department's weaknesses.
  • IDEAs that Work: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P170001 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

Project Officer: Julia Martin Eile     © 2012-2018 ECTA Center

  • UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute