Although their retention numbers are declining, recruitment efforts are still an important part of the College of Fine Arts’s (FA) strategy to get more students at USD.
The theater, music and visual art departments work with admissions to get names of students interested in the majors, then send out mail and advertising materials to those students. They also advertise themselves through social media.
Beyond advertising, the departments bring faculty and students to high schools in the region to recruit potential students and get them interested in coming to USD.
The music department recruits students through communication with high school teachers, free lessons to high school students and all-state music conferences and competitions. The department also hosts a summer music camp and Quad-state honor band competition.
David Holdhusen, chair of music, said the department also hosts “music major for a day.”
“We have people come and immerse themselves in the program,” he said. “Our goal in the department is to get students on campus and active so when they visit campus, they’re doing something that they can see themselves doing in college.”
Lilly Purzol, a first-year music education major from Yankton, said she wanted to come to USD because of the faculty and the orchestral program.
“USD has a great orchestral program, so I was really drawn to that,” she said. “Dr. Viquez actually came to my high school and worked with our orchestra. He really helped me out with getting scholarships for music to come to school here. I love chamber orchestra.”
Holdhusen said recruitment is all about finding passionate students. He said although first-year students may change their major more than three times when they begin college, it’s important to get these students at USD.
“We want to get people who are passionate about music,” he said. “We really want to get into as many (schools) as possible and target those students who are passionate about music and want to be involved.”
Visual arts take part National Portfolio Review Day in which junior and senior high school students present their portfolios all at once to a variety of colleges, universities and art schools in cities like Des Moines, Minneapolis and Kansas City.
Cory Knedler, chair of visual art, said the department has gained a lot of students from these trips.
“We’ve gotten some really good students from these portfolio days, (including) students that probably wouldn’t have thought about the University of South Dakota if we weren’t present at those events,” he said.
In the theater department, faculty table and judge one act festivals in the region, attend thespian festivals where high school students apply for talent scholarships as well as partake in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The department also hosts theater and technical workshops in Sioux Falls, Sioux City and occasionally Rapid City.
Theater students also use an online service, “Get Accepted,” where students can upload their portfolios and audition tapes, as well as get in contact with faculty from different universities.
Raimondo Genna, chair of theater, said the recruitment efforts in the FA are all about building relationships.
“When it comes to recruiting… it’s really about building relationships,” Genna said. “That is the most important thing. It’s really about that kind of personal touch, it’s about building relationships so that’s kind of the focus. When it comes to talking to the students, the students who may never have heard of USD before would make contact with them and this is a place they’re going to want to go to.”