A couple of years ago in this column, I mentioned the start of a new admissions initiative named “ReCommend Calvin,” designed to encourage alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students to nudge high school juniors and seniors toward our college by telling one’s personal Calvin story.
There’s a website set up to receive your information about the high school students you know—just to make certain the admissions office has the right contact details and has that student on its radar screen. Check it out: calvin.edu/go/recommend.
Since the program’s beginnings, Calvin friends have been “ReCommending” in the hundreds, providing fresh information on potential Knights and, in some cases, alerting the admissions team to young people who otherwise would have heard nothing from the college. Calvin’s enrollment numbers have ticked up slightly in the last few years. Maybe the campaign had a role in that positive result.
But I wonder if it might be time to change the rules of the “ReCommend” game just a bit.
What if every Calvin alumna, alumnus, parent, faculty and staff member, and student zeroed in on just one high school senior whom they believe would benefit from a Calvin education and made that one prospective Knight their personal “encourage-to-Calvin focus” for the entire year?
Perhaps that student is in one’s family. Or it could be someone in your congregation, school community or neighborhood. Maybe it is a young person who God simply guided to cross your life path somehow.
This year, I propose that we alter our admissions assistance program to be “ReCommend ONE.”
It is interesting to note how this “ReCommend ONE” thing can happen. Over the last few years, I’ve experienced this—crossing paths with a prospective student (sometimes in a different state) and then being careful to follow through with that student during the admissions process. I made sure they visited during an official “Fridays at Calvin” weekend, asked college colleagues to contact them about majors or campus activities, checked in regularly to see what questions they had. I found it kind of exciting, as if you are in the college search and decision process with them.
My colleague Jeff Pluymert in the development office is probably the college’s finest “ReCommender.” He is relentless in his efforts to make sure that prospective students get the full picture of the awesome education available here—and he does this every year with dozens of young people. He simply believes that Calvin is an amazing place and can bring God’s world—literally—to the heart and mind of a questing young Christian.
You and I are unlikely to unseat Pluymert as Calvin’s No. 1 admissions advocate. We don’t have to try. What we can do is “ReCommend ONE.”
The Calvin Alumni Board and Calvin Parent Council members will focus on this task in the academic year ahead. We’ll work with our regional alumni network leaders, too. Everyone in the Calvin community should be able to name the high school student who is their “ReCommend ONE” person. Counting just alumni association members alone, that would be more than 60,000 ReCommenders actively promoting Calvin!
If you will do that and let us know at calvin.edu/go/recommend, here’s what we’ll do: send you a Calvin “ReCommend ONE” shirt to help you in the advocacy process. If you’re wearing one, and someone asks you who you are “ReCommending” this year, you’ll be able to give a name, a high school and a hometown—and perhaps inspire them to do the same.
We’ll be sharing “ReCommend ONE” stories in Spark throughout the year. Perhaps one of them will be your story—and the story of a new Calvin Knight.