Recruiting Prospective High School Students
College communities are largely transient and student-run, which makes it hard from them to do long term or big picture planning on their own. Most of them are preoccupied or overrun with daily issues, and some struggle to stay afloat year after year. What is needed is an outside body to help campuses – on an individual level and a national level – specifically, in the area of recruiting. Recruiting is what ensures efficient distribution of students, the continuity of the campus communities, and a pipeline towards sustainable community growth. That’s where we come in – working with high schools, gap year programs, youth groups, and the universities, and creating a comprehensive and overarching strategy. We will also oversee national trends, data collection and dissemination, directing students to appropriate destinations, and specific assistance for communities with potential for growth and in need of support.
We offer college communities a recruitment strategy that includes: 1) Lists of appropriate high schools to target 2) Plan for prospective student Shabbatons 3) Marketing tools / website template. We are also planning a Recruitment Fellowship, where students from select campuses will be given training and travel stipends to promote their campuses to high school students.
As a side note, recruiting high school students is not the only or the easiest way to grow your religious community. Two other methods which are perhaps easier, more feasible, and more reliable are: getting day school alumni and other Jews with backgrounds to get involved in the community, and recruiting from among the 80% of Jews on your campus who are not Jewishly involved – see Heart to Heart for more details on those ideas
Lists of High Schools
We work directly with individual and networks of high schools and college guidance counselors, to ensure that students are informed of and directed to appropriate college communities. But you should contact the school themselves to make sure they hear from you about Jewish life on your college. To help facilitate that, here is:
- Complete list of every Jewish day school in North America – you can sort by ones which are/have high schools, denominations (ModernOrthodox, CentristOrthodox, Community, SolomonSchechter), and location by city and state. Each listing has the website and phone number for the school.
- Another list (from Tova Reiter) – more limited, although it includes emails for the guidance counselors
Plan for prospective student Shabbatons
- Try to piggyback on an admitted students’ overnight, best just after Regular Decision comes out
- Encourage students to come early (Thursday) and leave early (Saturday night) so you can still get all your homework done
- Make a packed schedule so your kids are always busy and attended to
- Set kids up in classes they’ll enjoy and with students they’ll like
- Make sure there is a clear division of responsibilities among the Orthodox students
- Try to be in touch with the admissions office because they might have resources that they are ready and willing to expend on Orthodox students (meal swipes, promotional materials, meetings, contact info)
- Tisch and/or oneg on Friday night
- Q&A / get to know the communiy session
- Use the lists of high schools above
- Reach out to as many people as you can, preferably through personal connections (not cold-calls)
- Call high schools if you have the time and manpower because school counselors are flooded with email
- Even if you don’t need the money, ask for a deposit when kids sign up. This will make a huge difference in attendance.
- Make a facebook page (like this or this)
You don’t need to start creating a whole infrastructure or figuring out the politics with Hillel/Chabad or what not – but a simple (free) webpage or even facebook page would go a long way. For examples, here is: UChicago, Michigan, Brooklyn, UCLA (fan page for their JLIC – which kinduv is their Orthodox community), and BU (internal group and external page). All of these are free, and don’t take so much time to set up or to update – and simple steps like that would probably make your community more attractive. Groups are also worth investing in, but more for internal organizing purposes; you should (als0) make a site/page for promoting it beyond its current constituents.
In terms of what to put on it, check out the others for ideas but here are some ideas:
- You can talk about resources available – that includes: kosher food, minyan times, learning opportunities, Orthodox rabbis, connection to the local Orthodox community, eruv (is there one?)
- Contact info – is there an official head/gabbai/co-chair? or you can list all the committees’ contacts
- You can list some events you have, and recent or upcoming guests/scholars in residence
- Put up some pictures – those are important! Videos could be great too
- You don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not but people will see that there’s something and what the potential is. And some people I think want a small Orthodox community – maybe you can write up your own list of “Top 10 reasons why we chose [Northwestern]’s Jewish community”