By Rakhi Agrawal (Area 11) and Jeanette Montoya (Area 2)
Like almost any collegiate campus organization, a peer health education group is only as powerful as the peer educators that are involved. Recruitment can be very time-consuming and require a lot of your resources, but once you develop a system, it can become very exciting for your group. Here are some recruitment strategies for you to consider:
Holding a kickoff event and having a presence at campus-wide events. Especially for new students, campus-wide events are the main way to survey and connect with different opportunities available on campus. While your group may not be the main focus of an open, large-scale campus event (orientation, activities fair, basketball game, etc.), it is still crucial that you be involved in some way, so that students are exposed to and become aware of your group. This is also the easiest way to reach a wide array of students as often, after the initial orientation period, students tend to attend these types of events less often. Even a table with a sign and an interest sheet can be sufficient—just as long as you have a plan to follow-up with students afterwards, and they have something to take away from your table—whether that be something physical (a free giveaway or a flyer advertising your next meeting) or just a clear understanding of what purpose your group serves on campus.
Leading with a carrot and incentivizing your group to potential peer educators! No matter how invested students might be in your group’s mission, having a rewards system or offering incentives for involvement can be key to retention of members. These incentives can be big or small, but always have your information attached to it. Incentivizing will create an easy way for students who are interested to contact you for further involvement.
Rakhi (Area 11): At my school, the new student orientation program hosts an activities fair for all incoming students. Our peer education group always has a table, and we draw students to our table by giving away items directly related to our group—free stress balls, sleep masks, etc. This way, students have something to remember us by!
Jeanette (Area 2): Here on my campus, our peer health education group has a variety of incentives ranging from chapsticks, pens, highlighters, hand sanitizers, backpacks and etc. All of our incentives have our contact information embellished on them, so if any students have any questions, they have the information needed and are able to use the incentive at the same time.
Have various types and forms of programming. Know who your target group is. Remember all groups on campus are different and unique, therefore your approach may need to be tailored to each group. When recruiting from different groups, you can emphasize the part of your organization they may be more interested in. For an example: If you’re trying to recruit from the biology or kinesiology club you might emphasize the health and fitness aspect more.
Hold different forms of programming such as social events or educational programs. This will allow potential peers to see your organization in action and get a feel for what your group is really about. Schedule your events or programs on varied times and days. This will give the students the opportunity to become more active and involved.
Create a fan base. Create a place where interested students can find more information about your organization. Use the technology your students use. Who doesn't use Facebook or Twitter? Facebook and Twitter are a great way to advertise and promote your group. Your potential members can go on these websites to learn more about your organization and be able to get information on upcoming events. On Facebook, create an event page for your upcoming program and invite all the students on your friends list. This allows the students to respond whether they plan to attend and you will have a better idea of who will be there. Fan base websites will provide your students with current information and a way to stay updated.
These are just a few ideas. Remember holding a kickoff event can help get the word out about your organization and allow students to come see what your group is all about. Who doesn't like free stuff? Incentives are a good way for students to remember your organization. Programming is an important part. Remember whom you are targeting and emphasize what may interest them. And lastly, create a fan base. This will enable students to get the information they need and be able to stay current on upcoming events. Recruiting can be very time consuming, so manage your time well and set deadlines for your peer group. Have fun and good luck!