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'Consider UNH'
By Rachel M. Collins '81
Alumni across the nation help promote their alma mater to prospective students

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Marianne Gross Gaspary '79 may live 1,000 miles from Durham, but that doesn't deter her from encouraging high school students in her adopted home state to consider UNH as a top choice for continuing their education.

In fact, ever since she was asked several years ago to attend college fairs as a Chicago-area Alumni Association chapter member, she has made it her mission to promote UNH to Midwesterners.

"We have a lot of strong high school students in this area who are willing to travel to go to school," she says. "When they say, 'I want to do something different, I want to ski, I want to travel,' I let them know that there is a really great option at UNH."

Since no one is better positioned to recall their UNH experiences than alumni, the Alumni Association and UNH Admissions have forged a strategic partnership to attract more prospective and admitted students to UNH. Currently, they're targeting six new, specific areas in Colorado, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas and Florida.

"Having alumni participate in the admissions process adds a level of depth and detail, because they're sharing their personal stories about how their college experience allowed them to develop after they graduated, in the job market, in the working world and in their communities," says Robert McGann, director of admissions and assistant vice president for student and academic services. "Alumni also know the communities they live in better than we do—where people gather, what they are looking for."

Alumni represent UNH at college fairs, attend and host receptions for students and parents, and even make telephone calls or send e-mails to prospective students. "They provide us with an expanded reach," McGann says. "They can be places we cannot, while speaking about the value of their university experience."

In Chicago, a member of the admissions staff, along with local UNH alumni, hosted a pizza dinner for high school juniors who were considering UNH, says Maggie Morrison '82, assistant director of alumni programs for the Alumni Association. The alums passed out Class of 2015 baseball caps and talked one-on-one about their academic and social experiences at college. In the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, alumni wrote students notes and mailed UNH baseball caps.

Admissions has been holding "send-offs" for admitted students for a number of years, but recently, admitted students have also been invited to alumni events, Morrison says.

The project has reaped unanticipated benefits. For example, when a Chicago-area high school guidance counselor reconnected with a former student at a reception and heard how happy she was after her first year at UNH, he began suggesting the college to more of his high school advisees.

And alumni are not the only volunteers. Mark Galvin, who has children in the classes of 2011, 2013 and 2014, and is the managing director of the N.H. Innovation and Commercialization Center, wrote a personal letter to all parents in the state whose children had been accepted, praising the school as a "top flight university ... providing an education that every parent wants for a child during the college years."

"There are a great many factors that influence whether students enroll," McGann says. But in the end, he adds, it all comes down to "whether they see themselves being successful here."

Hearing about the success of others can help that happen. ~

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