Archive for Monday, October 8, 2012

KU working to recruit legacy students

October 8, 2012


It was a question Kansas University Alumni Association president Kevin Corbett heard from alumni from time to time: Why didn’t KU work harder to recruit my kids?

Now, the association aims to leave fewer alumni with that question. This past summer, it added a new position focused on recruiting the children and grandchildren of alumni, or “legacy students.”

It’s a first for the KU association, Corbett said. And he doesn’t know of another alumni association for a public university anywhere in the country with an effort quite like this, he said.

As the university aims to reverse a trend of falling enrollment that has now stretched to four straight years, Corbett said, the association wants to help out any way it can.

“It’s not lost on anybody that enrollment’s not growing, and that’s not healthy for the university,” Corbett said.

Joy Maxwell, the KUAA’s new director of legacy relations, started on the job in July, coming over to Lawrence from Overland Park where she was organizing alumni activities in the Kansas City area. Before that, she worked in KU’s admissions office.

Her new office still has little on the walls except for her two KU diplomas, for her 2003 degrees in journalism and English. When she started, she saw that in fall 2011 there were about 4,250 “legacy students” — the children and grandchildren of alumni — among the university’s undergraduates. That’s about 22 percent of the undergraduate population, and to her, it seemed low.

“I’m thinking, ‘Well, how is that?’” Maxwell said. “Our legacy students are the easiest ones to sell on KU. Why don’t we have more than just a quarter?”

KU began reaching out to those students in 2009 with the introduction of its Jayhawk Generations scholarships for out-of-state freshmen whose parents or grandparents graduated from KU. The largest of those — for students scoring at least a 28 on the ACT or a 1250 on the SAT with a 3.5 high-school grade-point average —is now the biggest single scholarship KU offers at $11,675 per year for four years, outranking the scholarship for National Merit Finalists.

Maxwell said part of her job was to spread the word about those scholarships to alumni, many of whom still don’t know about it.

Those legacy students are a far better recruitment bet than other out-of-staters, Maxwell said. They know at least something about KU, and they may have been watching KU basketball games all their lives.

“It’s putting your money and your resources where you think you have the best shot,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell combs the association’s records to see which alumni have children nearing the point where they’ll be thinking about college. And she sends them personalized packages with information about the specific programs they’ve indicated interest in.

She also takes tips that the association gets from alumni around the country about youths who might be interested in KU, even if they would not qualify as legacy students, and passes them on to the admissions office. And she passes the word on to alumni, many of whom need little prompting to brag about KU, that they can promote the university to prospective students.

Alumni can make quite effective recruiters, Maxwell said.

“We don’t have to pay alumni,” Maxwell said with a laugh. “They all have their own story. They can all act as salespeople. And we have 300,000.”

Even if the association isn’t successful in recruiting every potential legacy student, she said, it wants to show alumni that it’s doing whatever it can to attract their children to KU.

After all, if their children go unrecruited, they do notice.


Clovis Sangrail 5 years, 7 months ago

That scholarship is about twice what an in-state student can get, even with higher ACT scores and GPAs.

I guess it's more important to take care of out-of-state alumni spawn than our own kids.

Here's what in-state kids can get --

Chancellor scholarship -- requires 32 ACT/1400 SAT and minimum 3.85 GPA, awards $20,000 ($5,000/year)

Traditions scholarship -- requires 31 ACT/1360 SAT and minimum 3.75 GPA, awards $16,000 ($4,000/year)

Crimson & Blue scholarship -- requires 28 ACT/1250 SAT and 3.5 GPA, awards $8,000 ($2,000/year)

So an in-state kid with a 28 ACT and a 3.5 GPA gets 2 grand a year, while an out-of-state with the same ACT score and GPA rakes in more than $11,000 a year.

Phillbert 5 years, 7 months ago

You realize out-of-state tuition is more than twice as much as in-state tuition, right? So the out-of-state alumni students are still paying more even with the scholarships.

Clovis Sangrail 5 years, 7 months ago

I do realize that, but is it really all that important to recruit from this demographic?

What makes the progeny of out-of-state alumni more desirable candidates than in-state kids?

Or is the university simply pandering to the alumni association so alumni kids can be in the same fraternity daddy and grandpa were in?

For less than the cost of one Jayhawk Generations scholarship, KU could award two Chancellor scholarships and get two brighter in-state kids instead of one mediocre out-of-state kid.

Take_a_letter_Maria 5 years, 7 months ago

I guess my legacy kiddo is s-o-l. We live in town, he's top 10% in one of the local schools, has better than a 3.8 GPA, but doesn't do great on the standardized tests and only got a 27.

Hardhawk1 5 years, 7 months ago

What a joke. Clovis is correct. Why doesn't KU offer the in state legacy students (like mine, a 3rd generation legacy) the same money? Instead, he gets the low ball in state offer that was not even correct based on his ACT score and GPA. We kept trying to point out the error but were blown off time after time. Thankfully, the out of state college that offered him a full ride was a lot more interested than my alma mater and my parents' alma mater. I am from a rural Kansas area and for years KU has totally ignored the bright rural Kansas kids. KU has given these kids the shaft and treated them like bumpkins for years. That is why so many of rural Kansas' best and brightest are headed to KSU or out of state. KU needs a total culture change starting with the Chancellor on down that treats Kansas kids from ALL parts of Kansas with the same respect they show the out of state kids. Unless this culture change occurs, the new "legacy" position is just window dressing and the expense of the new position would be better spent on more scholarships for the out of state kids KU seems so concerned about.

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