Exploring A Digital Campus’s Student Recruitment at an Organizational Level

AIT 722 Final Project by Rafeef Baamer & Ashish Hingle

Group of smiling students standing around a table. A sign in the front of the table says "WELCOME2MASON Fraternity & Sorority Life"

Image courtesy of George Mason University

Campus organizations (run by the students, institution, or the community in general) look to engage students through the classroom and extra-curricular activities to provide a holistic student learning environment. These organizations have many official and unofficial ways to recruit and advertise events, communities, academic opportunities. But recruitment is just one part of the overall student experience; organizations must then both deliver and engage the students, but also retain participation. For many potential college students and their parents, campus engagement is an important consideration toward the value of education at the institution. Does the campus have sports teams and run intermural sports events? Are there student support organizations? How is Greek Life on campus? These are just a few examples of what potential members of the community may be concerned with.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has moved instruction to an online environment, universities have embraced the idea of smartening and digitizing elements of the traditional college experience, and by proxy have changed the landscape of traditional vs online instruction. Where organizations could easily do physical recruitment by tabling at frequently walked pathways, or post flyers in buildings, this is no longer possible, and considered effort needs to be put towards recruitment. And students are feeling the lack of connection to the campus, especially for first year students (freshman, first-year transfer, and graduate students. Below is one of numerous posts on the GMU subreddit (www.reddit.com/r/gmu/).

Student posts in the GMU subreddit about feeling isolated and lonely."

So how do campus organizations recruit in an online setting, and by proxy engage and retain students through their activities and events?

This is a great question, but one that does not have many published results. A well funded campus may have internal metrics on how students do this, but they are rarely shared among those that can actually benefit from this information; those organizing events. Campuses

This project explores how organizations at George Mason University engage with students through online recruitment efforts. We believe that understanding this phenomenon and quantifying the types of activities that already happen, in addition to exploring the diversity of these activities will allow us to create a set of recommendations for organization leaders to better reach their target audience. This will also allow students some transparency in understanding where potential communities recruit and be able to find new ways to participate in activities they think are interesting. As a result, this will motivate more community engagement, and GMU will be able to build on the technological changes from the last year and build a smarter and connected community.

We explore two commonly used media that allow for the bridging of organizer and participant at George Mason University (GMU). The first medium is an official platform designated by GMU to “Discover Events, Meet Patriots, Get Involved, and Access Resources.” The second medium is Twitter, a commonly used social media platform that, although unofficial and unregulated, is widely accepted by students, faculty, and the community in general. This project is split into 2 sections aimed at different audiences:

  1. If you are interested in how the project was handled, data were collected, and analysis completed, please click here: Dataset & Analysis.
  2. If you want to see the recommendations our team outlined based on the analysis, please click here: Recommendations.