As a regional university with both professional and liberal arts programs, we strive to be the university of choice for Hawai‘i Island and other state residents.
By Chancellor Don Straney
Last fall, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo missed the target for enrollment for the second year in a row. In a column I wrote last Oct., I noted that we are not alone in this problem; a survey done by The Chronicle of Higher Education of 368 small private colleges and midsize state institutions showed 38 percent did not meet their goals for freshman enrollment.
With much planning and new leadership in the Admissions Office, we are ready this month to begin the season of encouraging new students to come study at UH Hilo.
As a regional university with both professional and liberal arts programs, we strive to be the university of choice for Hawai‘i Island and other state residents. We have a particular responsibility to recruit and graduate Native Hawaiians.
We are reaching out near and far. We are connecting with students who just graduated from public high schools and Hawaiian immersion schools, hoping they see UH Hilo as a natural place to go for college. We’re also increasing our connections with community college students who want to transfer to a four-year university. Further away, we are identifying international locations where we can recruit students who can take advantage of what UH Hilo has to offer.
And what exactly do we have to offer? What makes UH Hilo unique, differentiating us from other campuses throughout the state, the country, and the world?
Here are the top five reasons students should come to UH Hilo.
- We challenge students to learn from many sources and we help them achieve their very best. We don’t limit our students to classroom settings. We inspire learning, discovery and creativity inside and outside the classroom, utilizing our incredible island culture and environment to immerse our students in the real world, preparing them well for careers that will make a difference in their quality of own life and in the life of their own communities.
- Students have direct interaction with faculty who are experts in their fields. In addition to traditional classroom learning, every student has access to observing and conducting field research. It’s not unusual at UH Hilo for our graduates to already have published field work under their belts as they embark on their careers or further education. This is virtually unheard of for undergraduates at other universities.
- We offer applied learning both inside and outside the classroom. We’re moving toward providing an applied learning experience for every student, with real-world learning experiences, ideally within the local community. These include internships, service learning, community based projects, practica, creative activities, and research. Our graduates leave UH Hilo with a diploma and a résumé.
- UH Hilo is the most diverse four-year public university in the country, giving our students a big advantage in preparing for the real world. People learn best from others who are not like themselves, and being a diverse campus means that our students are able to study with people who have different experiences and different ways of thinking than they do, so they learn more. Being the most diverse campus means UH Hilo students are going to have a much better educational experience than if we were at the other end of the spectrum.
- We are located on Hawai‘i Island, where students learn while immersed in our unique island culture and environment. Our students learn and gain experience from the island itself, invaluable knowledge that can be applied elsewhere in their future careers.
So how can we share these points and give prospective students a feel for what it’s like to be at UH Hilo? We’re reaching out online, in print, and in person.
We’ve expanded our online presence. For example, the Admissions Office has fully embraced social media, with an engaging presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It gives prospective students an immediate connection to our current students at work, study, and play.
We also have ambassadors in the form of counselors, deans, faculty, and financial aid officers reaching out personally to prospective students and their families, to make that important connection. UH Hilo is a place that cares enough for our students to send our people to meet with them before they ever reach our campus.
There is a role for everyone to play in growing our enrollment. We appreciate the assistance of faculty and staff in helping our students succeed, and the local community for spreading the word about the value of a UH Hilo education. If you have ideas about recruiting students locally, nationally and internationally to UH Hilo, drop me a note. By working together, we can grow our university and help our island and state move forward into the future.