by Madison Cowman
According to the Human Resources Department at Grace, the food service employees are currently the highest earning student on campus job, making $8.00/hour. Resident Assistants come in second making $7.75/hour. And all other campus jobs make minimum wage at $7.25/hour. Among these campus jobs, are Student Ambassadors. Student Ambassadors are students who work for Grace’s Admissions Department whose main roles include administering campus tours and initiating phone calls with prospective students. However, the merit of Student Ambassadors to Grace College is not reflected in their measly $7.25 an hour. Therefore, Student Ambassadors should be the highest paid job on campus.
Ushering students through the Admissions funnel is no easy feat. In fact, most people are unaware of the lengthy process that it is. Students begin as prospective students, and after initial contact with the school, they become inquiries. As inquiries they apply, and hopefully deposit for the fall. The end goal in admissions is to have as many students in the matriculation stage as they can, and then it is Student Affairs who resolve to retain certain students. And who is the catalyst for this entire process? Student Ambassadors.
I invited Mark Pohl, Dean of Admissions, into the conversation about the worth of Student Ambassadors. According to Pohl, “A Grace College Ambassador is the front line of the Admissions staff, often giving prospective students (and their families) their first impression of Grace College.” An ambassador sets the trajectory for the prospective students they interact with. This year during phone calls alone, Ambassadors started 1158 applications which led to 377 completed applications, preceding 52 deposits. When you multiply those deposits by the cost of tuition and room and board for the 2018/19 school year, ($33,902), it totals $1,762,904 that has been the result of the initiation of Student Ambassadors.
While this figure alone is an impressive return on investment, it does not account for the impact of the campus tours. Countless studies have been done on the impact of a campus visit on a college decision including, “The Significance of Campus Visitations to College Choice and Strategic Enrollment Management,” by Scott Secore, “Campus Visit Drives College Choice,” by the Art and Science Group, and “Identifying Concepts that Influence High School Students During a College Campus Tour,” by Adrea Spoon. All of them concluding the same theme: campus visitation—more specifically, the campus tour—is frequently cited as the single most influential aspect for students in their college choice. Pohl echoed these studies in his interview by stating, “Our campus visitors spend the most time on campus with Student Ambassadors, so it’s vitally important to hire and train Ambassadors that can contribute narrative and information about Grace [College] while enjoying the personalities of our visitors.”
So the question remaining is a matter of value. Does the work of a Student Ambassador warrant higher pay? Is $7.25 an hour indicative of the return on investment? Ultimately, Grace College could not exist without students. Bringing in fresh faces to campus is the lifeblood of the institution. Resident Life and Food Services are important, yes, but they are valuable because of the vehicle that puts heads in the dorms and stomachs at the lunch tables. As college prices rise, the recruitment of prospective students has become increasingly challenging and has pushed many institutions onto their heels, frantically strategizing on how to keep their doors open each year. Pohl asks, “Is the role one of the most crucial leadership roles on campus? Without a doubt. So for that reason, a case could be made for higher pay.” Ultimately, the role of a Student Ambassador is pivotal in the success of a college or university, and so why should they not see a greater reward for their efforts?
Secore, Scott. “The Significance of Campus Visitations to College Choice and Strategic Enrollment Management.” Freshwater Biology, Wiley/Blackwell (10.1111), 3 Jan. 2018, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/sem3.20114.
“Campus Visit Drives College Choice – Squarespace.” Campus Visit Drives College Choice, Art and Science Group, 29 Jan. 2004, www.bing.com/cr?IG=FD6503C118C448CE8469987993396DCD&CID=1F0FC2C90A596EF42B72C9200BF66F20&rd=1&h=_cwpv3VVkQoLAeLnTOQ-APlGOERyCh1E0dNGeC8dJek&v=1&r=https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5810fea5e58c62bd729121cc/t/58bf244db8a79b05f453fb87/1488921678928/studentPOLL_V5.5_Jan.2004.pdf&p=DevEx.LB.1,5069.1.
Spoon, Adrea N. Identifying Concepts That Influence High School Students During A College Campus Tour. Graduate College of Bowling Green, May 2006, etd.ohiolink.edu/!etd.send_file?accession=bgsu1143484472&disposition=inline.