Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - A new recruiting team, a strong freshmen mentoring program, numerous scholarship opportunities and new technology to help graduates find employment are paying off for New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences .
The college's combined undergraduate and graduate student enrollment for the spring semester increased 5.1 percent, the largest increase among all NMSU colleges.
"From recruiting to retention efforts and a focus on career placement, we offer a package deal," said Don Lindsey, interim dean of academic programs for the college.
Total enrollment in the college rose to 1,620 -- 78 more than year-ago figures. That increase reflected a 5.9-percent hike in undergraduate enrollment and a 0.4-percent increase in graduate enrollment.
The college's departments of agronomy and horticulture; family and consumer sciences; and agricultural economics and agricultural business boosted spring enrollment with increases of about 23, 20 and 15 percent, respectively.
"We've put a strong effort into recruiting," Lindsey said. Last July, the college announced a new recruiting team that includes a full-time recruiter, Gabe Jacquez, who handles New Mexico high schools and 4-H and FFA groups. Part-time recruiters Cynthia Ramirez and Desaree Whitfield concentrate on southern Doņa Ana County and El Paso County, and community colleges and transfer students, respectively.
Strong financial support also attracts students to the college's eight departments. About $235,000 in scholarships, besides the financial assistance offered by the university, are available to majors in the college annually.
Lindsey said the college's efforts to make students feel at home and to succeed in their studies don't stop once they've been recruited. All students in the college have faculty advisers to help them sort through academic decisions.
In addition, a mentoring program, headed by James Strickland, an assistant professor in the animal and range sciences department, matches new students with faculty members and returning students to provide support during those critical first six to eight weeks in the fall semester. A barbeque picnic serves as a welcome to the college.
Lindsey said the departmental faculty and academic programs staff also help students find good part-time jobs during the academic year and internships and full-time job opportunities during the summer.
Even as students prepare to graduate, the college offers support. Lindsey said this spring the college's graduating seniors are being heavily recruited by large agricultural operations, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Land Management, which are projecting labor shortages in the next five years.
In a pilot project, videotaped interviews of 40 students were put on individual CD-ROMs, along with each student's resume, for potential employers to view. Students responded to a standard set of questions. The project was developed by associate professor Cynda Clary in the agricultural economics and agricultural business department and agricultural communications department staff.
Individual departments concentrate on helping students find jobs, too. For example, the hotel, restaurant and tourism management department's annual job fair contributes to the department's 95 percent placement rate of graduating seniors.
For more information about the college, contact the academic programs office at (505) 646-1807 or toll-free at (800) 400- 1807.
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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