The talented student may not always be the extrovert. Dig deeper to find that special introvert for your school.
At recruitment fairs and campus visits, it’s easy to spot talented extroverts. They’ll raise their hands and tell you about their qualifications. They’re also the ones most likely to post on social media, email your admissions staff, or even talk with someone on campus.
When it comes to finding talented students interested in becoming programmers, engineers, writers, or researchers – fields more suited to introversion – you may find recruitment to be more difficult. Introverts are less likely to attend big events. They may find group settings intimidating, and they might not be as bold posting on social media or chatting with an admissions officer.
However, the qualities that make introverts difficult to recruit are some of the same attributes that make them valuable students. Introverts go on to be some of the most successful students, because they take time to think and process information. They are great listeners and ask insightful questions. They’re self-sufficient, and they get excited by complex projects.
In this post, I want to share the best practices for recruiting talented introverts. Simply by rethinking your admissions process with introverts in mind, you increase the likelihood of introverts (nearly half the population) choosing to enroll at your school.
Research suggests that introverts comprise up to half of the population. Among top high school seniors (with great GPAs and SAT/ACT scores), that percentage could be even higher. Yet, when you think about typical recruitment practices, extroverts are favored. By not catering to introverts, admissions offices are leaving 30-50% of students up for grabs.
Big college fairs with hundreds of people are exhausting and uncomfortable for introverts. Networking and meeting many new people at once seems overwhelming. When asked about making small talk with potential schools, introverts say “I just can’t think of anything to say,” or “I get uncomfortable talking about myself and my accomplishments.” Even social media outreach skews toward students who are more outgoing.
When it comes to recruiting an introvert, a lot of university professionals treat introversion as a disability. However, they would be better served viewing introversion as an asset. It’s time we recognized the advantages of introverts:
- Introverts go deep – They are capable of intense focus. This makes introverts especially capable of any task that requires intense concentration. This depth also means that introverts are often more creative and innovative than extroverts.
- Introverts are better connectors – An introvert would rather spend the evening with one good friend than with 20 acquaintances. This means that introverts can be the hidden backbone of communities, societies, teams, and clubs on campus.
- Introverts tend to be clear communicators – and they are usually great listeners. They take time to organize their thoughts, and they speak only when they feel strongly about what they have to say. This means that what’s often mistaken for “shyness” is actually thoughtfulness and discernment. Introverts tend to be good students.
With these attributes, introverts can make a great addition to any university. So, how can you cater recruitment and admissions counseling to best help introverts choose your school?
The simple guide to recruiting introverts
There are three core steps to recruiting introverts:
1. Make sure your university’s marketing fits introverts’ aspirations. The first step in recruiting an introvert is to make sure they would want to attend your university. To put it bluntly, some universities are not well-positioned to recruit introverts.
Introverts will do a large amount of research on your school before they ever contact you about admissions, much less submit an application or schedule a visit. With the incoming Generation Z, prospective introverted students are most likely to visit your website first. They’ll also research you on third party websites and social media. In order to be attractive to introverts, you’ll want to highlight small class sizes, research and study abroad opportunities, and any unique characteristics of your school that appeal to curiosity and creativity.
2. Offer opportunities for ongoing one-on-one communication. Introverts are interested in deep relationships. One easy way to help an introvert choose your university is to allow them to contact an admissions officer that has a face and a name. When they do, encourage ongoing communication with that same person if they have further questions.
Many smaller universities do this with great success, even assigning an admissions officer to reach out to every prospective student who has started an application. In bigger schools, this may not be feasible. However, you can still encourage interfacing with prospective students to develop longer-term relationships with the applicants. Emails from admissions counselors should be signed with the counselor’s name, and ongoing email threads should be encouraged.
Brazen also has a great eBook on personalizing communication for prospective students.
3. Help them connect with current professors, students, & alumni to seal the deal. This is how you really impress a Gen Z introvert. It’s one thing to have an email exchange with an admissions counselor. It’s quite another for a current student to reach out and offer to answer any questions. Implementing a program like this doesn’t have to be complicated. You’ll find that many current students are happy to talk to prospective students about life on campus. Getting together a group of volunteers to call, chat, text, or email your top prospective students could go a long way toward building a personal connection to your school.
Implementing these small tweaks will put you ahead of the pack in terms of your university’s attractiveness to introverts. That’s no small matter considering introverts make up 40% of college applicants. If you use these tactics, you can expect an uptick in introverts applying and committing to your school.
Bennett Garner runs Comfortable Conversation and is an expert on introverted leadership, recruitment, and networking. For Brazen readers, Bennett is offering a free Introvert Recruitment Checklist with step-by-step instructions to implement the tactics in this post.