Recruiting: 5 Tricks For Keeping Teenagers Awake While I Talk About College

It is a known fact that one of the perks of academic advising is that you never, ever get bored!

For instance, for the past couple of years, during our advising lull, we don’t sit around the office catching up nor do we take vacation. No, no…instead we hit the road! We travel to high schools and community colleges, preaching the gospel of a 4-year degree. This year, I changed up my presentation significantly, and so far, it keeps the students awake and engaged for a full hour or more—which, if you have ever worked with high-schoolers, is an epic accomplishment.

#1  Make them do math and vocab (*evil laugh*)

I start my presentation with some general admissions info, like our Transfer Requirements which are that students have to have 30 hours and a GPA of 2.00. Now, I had forgotten what it was like not to know what ’30 hours’ and ‘2.00 GPA’ meant, until I asked a class and one brave junior spoke up and said it was like 30 hours of community service.


Therefore, I now make each class break it down: 3 hours is one class, 4 classes is full time, you generally take 4 classes a semester–so 30 hours takes about 1 year. I also explain semesters, core, and prerequisites very briefly.

#2  Survey your audience.

Just as they start to get a little glassy-eyed, I switch gears.  I survey my audience by asking a simple question, “What is the first thing that pops into your head when I say the word business?” These are the answers I usually get–in order of frequency:

  • Money
  • Owning your own business
  • A job
  • Big Buildings
  • Suits
  • Boring <–This was what I thought about business when I was their age!

#3  Move. Laugh. Learn.

I then tell them that we’re going to do an activity that is going to change what they think of when they hear the word business.  We start by drawing a business from a bag (a bunch of pieces of paper that I printed, cut, and threw into a cute UT Tyler baggie). It could be anything from a comic book store to a salon and day spa. The person who drew the business gets to be the owner and picks classmates to fill the following roles:

  • Accountant
  • Banker/Financial Analyst
  • Marketing Manager
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Industrial Engineer

Then we role-play the steps to getting a loan, making a budget with multiple lines, building equipment (out of LEGOs), creating a marketing campaign, and hiring and training employees. If time permits, we even role-play an unhappy customer scenario, which usually gets everyone—including the teacher—rolling on the floor. It’s a fun way to get them to start connecting the dots between business majors and actual careers.

#4  Give-aways galore!

After the activity, I ask the class questions from my earlier presentation. We don’t have glamorous prizes, but throw candy into a coffee mug, and BAM! We’ve got a prize that will get the sleepiest senior jumping up and down for a chance to win. I usually ask 3-5 questions per class, and I carry extras in case I want to give a prize to someone who was particularly engaged or who is sincerely interested in applying to our institution.

#5  The power of video.

At this point, I have inevitably lost control of the class, but that’s okay, because I have a plan: a video (Here’s a snippet). It is an 8 minute promotional video that one of my colleagues in Admissions let me have, and it is a LIFE SAVER!

So, tell me—what do you do during your down time? As an advisor, do you do any recruiting? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

Thanks for reading, and look for my next post on April 15!