U should expand recruitment

Camille Galles

Think you know Minnesota? Think again. Growth among older populations and a plateau in high school graduation rates are creating dramatic demographic shifts that the state must prepare to accommodate.

As older adults retire and fewer Minnesota high-schoolers graduate, deficits emerge in the University of Minnesota’s in-state recruitment pool and in the state’s skilled labor force.

These might seem like unrelated problems, but the University has a unique opportunity to solve them. Supporting non-traditional pathways to four-year colleges would increase diversity among student populations while creating skilled workers that our economy needs.

As out-of-state tuition rises, it will prove more difficult for the University to build diversity through out-of-state recruitment. Actively recruiting students from community colleges and other two-year institutions would provide diversity from Minnesota’s own backyard.

Many students pursuing degrees at two-year academic institutions often differ from traditional college students in race, age and income. Many of these students are also high-achieving, but studies show that high-achieving community college graduates often don’t even send applications to elite universities.

This recruitment strategy would do more than just fill the University’s diversity quota. More and more jobs require four-year college degrees, and a qualified workforce is the engine that keep Minnesota’s economy running. The state will need to rely on a skilled, younger and more diverse workforce as the baby boomers retire. Recruiting diverse students from community colleges to attend the University (who otherwise wouldn’t be qualified) can help fulfill that need.

The state’s demographics are shifting, but this doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Strategic recruitment tactics can ensure that the state’s education system and economy only changes for the better.